Yaluk-ut Weelam Ngargee festival is back for 2021, expanding to an epic four-day event

Yaluk-ut Weelam Ngargee festival is back for 2021, expanding to an epic four-day event

Words by Arielle Richards

Boasting a mix of live and virtual events.

This year, the 16th Yaluk-ut Weelam Ngargee festival (YWN) has been transformed from its historic one-day format to a four-day event.

The festival, running from Thursday March 25 to Sunday March 28, will incorporate a mix of live and virtual events, enhancing accessibility for members of the community unable to attend in person whilst making the most out of the restrictions proposed by COVID-safe requirements.

What you need to know

  • Yaluk-ut Weelam Ngargee festival has been reimagined into a four-day festival, and will be held from Thursday March 25 to Sunday March 28
  • The festival will feature various events, celebrating First Nations arts, culture and community, including an all-women opening night, and a special performance by Archie Roach
  • In line with COVID-safe requirements, the festival will showcase both live and online events and workshops

Keep up with the latest festival news here.

The festival will open at Memo Music Hall in St Kilda on the Thursday, with a night of song, ceremony, immersive art and dance, featuring an all-women lineup including Bumpy, Alice Skye and Monica Jasmine Karo.

The event, titled Gareeal, is named after the current season, ‘summer rains’, as identified by the Boonwurrung people. The event will celebrate both the collective and individual path taken by all living things, and their connection to the land. Co-curated by Allara Briggs Pattison, the evening will see Skye, Bumpy and Karo joined by Ensemble Dutala and friends, who will be providing string arrangements for the show.

A monumental performance by Archie Roach will take place at The Espy on Saturday March 27, who will be performing his protest album Koorie 1988.

Roach’s landmark gig has been curated specially for the festival, and will see the beloved artist revisit his little-known connection to St Kilda, playing the songs he wrote while living behind the suburb’s Village Belle Hotel in the ’80s. Special guests will join the intimate show, to sing, talk and celebrate Roach’s early protest works.

“It’s impossible to think about St Kilda’s music history without thinking of Archie Roach,” City of Port Phillip Mayor Louise Crawford says.

“This event is a fantastic opportunity to experience an intimate performance from Archie in St Kilda and hear about the powerful experiences behind the songs.”

Elsewhere for Yaluk-ut Weelam Ngargee festival, there will be performances from Ngiyampaa man and First Nations singer-songwriter Pirritu as part of the festival’s Acland Street Pop-Up Series on Friday March 26, as well as appearances from Amos Roach at South Melbourne Market on Sunday March 28, and Lauren Sheree at St Kilda Esplanade Market on the same day. And that’s just the start.


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The 2021 Yaluk-ut Weelam Ngargee festival takes place across four days from Thursday March 25 to Sunday March 28. Grab tickets via the festival website.