Spanning 11 days, Yirramboi Festival is Melbourne’s biggest celebration of First Nations culture

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Spanning 11 days, Yirramboi Festival is Melbourne’s biggest celebration of First Nations culture

Melbourne artists
'Considerable Sexual Licence' - image by Pier Carthew
Words by Tom Parker

The festival will take over Melbourne from Thursday May 6 until Sunday May 16.

Yirramboi Festival makes its return in 2021, with more than 150 events set to decorate Melbourne, celebrating the magnificence of First Nations culture.

Across 11 days from Thursday May 6 until Sunday May 16, Yirramboi will presents events from all across the arts spectrum – whether it be live music, theatre, comedy, dance, film and beyond.

What you need to know

  • Yirramboi Festival has announced its program for 2021
  • The program features more than 150 events celebrating First Nations culture
  • The festival will take place in Melbourne from from Thursday May 6 until Sunday May 16

Keep up with the latest festival news here.

Some of the highlights of the program include Arterial – a show-stopping acrobatic performance by Harley Mann (Wakka Wakka) and performed by the Na Djinang Circus, exploring the ancient connections tying First Nations people together.

Then there’s A Fight For Survival – a political cabaret that focuses on the fight to save Victoria’s treasured Northland College from a government-planned shutdown. Performed by the Northlands Collective Mob, this performance explores the story of Muthama Sinnapan and Bruce Foley, who in 1992, made the bold move of claiming to the Equal Opportunity Board that the closure was an act of systemic racial discrimination.

Elsewhere, Soul of Possum draws on the stories handed down from emerging playwright Brodie Murray’s (Wamba Wamba) grandfather and father. The play set to gripping historical thriller themes explores the contrasting relationships settlers and Bla(c)k peoples have with Country, leadership, ecology and spirituality.


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Coconut Woman, written by Maryanne Sam (Meriam Mer), is a funny and touching fish out of water story exploring what it means to belong, while there will also be comedy via the Deadly Funny Showcase, which will see comics such as Ben Moodie (Gamillaroi), Constantina Bush (Gurindji), Dane Simpson (Gamilaraay) and Kimmie Lovegrove (Ngarrindjeri) perform.

Capping off festival highlights are BARRING YANABUL – a free all-day, city-wide festival bringing art, music, dance, theatre and fashion to more than 40 pop up locations across the CBD, and performances from Ziggy Ramo – performing his debut album, Black Thoughts, at Melbourne Recital Centre – and James Henry.

Henry will take on Melbourne Town Hall’s Grand Organ with the world premiere of Madhanbaa Mayrraa – a blend of traditional style songs in language, infused with techno rhythms and rich sonic textures.

The aforementioned events are just the tip of the iceberg – Yirramboi will literally consume Melbourne when it hits the city in May. And aren’t we so privileged for that!

Yirramboi Festival hits Melbourne from Thursday May 6 until Sunday May 16. Find out more here.