WinterWild: Victoria’s answer to Dark Mofo announces 2021 return, reveals huge lineup

WinterWild: Victoria’s answer to Dark Mofo announces 2021 return, reveals huge lineup

Words by Talia Rinaldo

The Apollo Bay festival makes its return in August.

Far from your average festival, WinterWild is returning to Apollo Bay this August, igniting the Otways with an immersive, boundary-pushing program for the fourth time.

The festival – wrapped in the darkness and elemental power of the Victorian winter – will take place over two wintery weekends, August 13-15 and August 27-29, with the festivities kicking off around large ocean-side bonfires before moving in to explore the town of Apollo Bay that’ll be transformed with roving performers and projection art.

What you need to know

  • WinterWild is back over two weekends, August 13-15 and August 27-29
  • The festival will feature a program of music, performance, feasting in a celebration of dark winter energy centred around Apollo Bay
  • The full program is available online now

Keep up with all the festival news, reviews and interviews here.

A thoughtfully curated program, WinterWild focuses on the idea of peering into the darkness for inspiration, revelations and surprises.

The first weekend is about music and comedy. Keeping Apollo Bay’s live music tradition running, WinterWild boasts a program of powerful, unfettered live music in the much-loved oldest venue in Apollo Bay, The Mech Hall, headlined by a reunion of Apollo Bay hometown heroes The Vasco Era, returning after ten years on Saturday night.

Afrobeat rhythm kings Bananagun will also be performing, alongside female psych queens Parsnip, Melbourne-based garage quartet Bad Bangs and homegrown heavy hitters The Refuge.

Coastal psych-blues quintet The Murlocs head up another night with the dark-psych of ORB. Support sets come from lo-fi garage rockers Sledgehammer, local favourites The Fillmores and a rare solo set from Sid O’Neil (The Vasco Era).

For the first time, WinterWild will feature comedy across the weekend, with rising stars of Melbourne stand-up, including Charlie Zangel, winner of Best Newcomer at the 2021 Melbourne International Comedy Festival.


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The second weekend is worth braving the cold for, celebrating food, theatre and surf.

Revel in the beauty of surfing in the Southern Ocean with Whispers from the Sea for an evening of art, live music performances and local films, or grab your dancing shoes and your friends as Moira Finucane performs both Diva Dive, a heady cocktail of low-cut, high art, gothic queens, butoh tea and burlesque, all to a soundtrack to die for, and Salon de Danse, a show with torch singers and fan twirlers, bottle walkers and chair balancers.

Leading the food program is a gluttonous Wild Feast on Saturday August 28. Here you’ll find roaring fire-pits and char-grills, bubbling cauldrons and giant smokehouse barbeque cooking up local seafood bouillabaisse, smokehouse style meats, fresh-caught char-grilled seafood, and seasonal local veggies buried in the coals.

Warm your hearts and hands further with a mug of mulled wine, a range of Prickly Moses dark ales, and an Apollo Bay Distillery whisky or gin.

There will also be a week-long, experimental field trip exploring and amplifying the hidden, microscopic and mycorrhizal aspects of The Quarry and its surrounds via large-format projection, an outdoor cinema and a series of intimate audio-visual installations; as well as a food trail, community dinners, Qigong, yoga and other workshops.

Both weekends will give punters the opportunity to walk among the dead with the Apollo Bay cemetery tours, where you’ll learn about the lives, shipwrecks and trials of these pioneers with a world-class view.

Of course, at the throbbing heart of WinterWild is fire. And nothing embraces, sculpts, worships and glorifies fire quite like the festival’s centrepiece DogWatch. Guided by the mythical theme of the Sirens, DogWatch features free outdoor performances leading up to the lighting of a huge bonfire on the foreshore. Going down each Saturday night, this is the event that the festival begins and ends with – that defines it, energises it, enflames it.

Lighting a fire under winter with a multi-artform fusillade to rip through the darkness, WinterWild is Victoria’s answer to Dark Mofo, and it’s well worth travelling down the Great Ocean Road for.

WinterWild will run across two weekends, from August 13–15 and from August 27–29. To see the full lineup and to purchase tickets, head here.