Midsumma Festival is Melbourne's annual LGBTQIA+ event that celebrates culture and local communities. Over the course of the 22-day festival, you can look forward to more than 165 queer events which take place in and around Melbourne. Midsumma Festival first began as a week-long pride in Melbourne, in 1989. From its humble beginnings, the festival has expanded into a three-week event, which attracts roughly over 280,000 people each year.
During Midsumma Festival, a host of queer-related events take place throughout Melbourne, with everything from exhibitions and workshops to readings, sport, and cabaret. The two key events for the annual festival, however, are the Midsumma Carnival and the Midsumma Pride March. The Midsumma Carnival has arguably become the highlight of the annual festival, and usually takes place during one entire day in January, in the Alexandra Gardens. The carnival is the pefect prelude for the rest of Midsumma Festival, offering loads of live music, a T Dance, and the popular Dog Show.
The Pride March is the second key event of Midsumma Festival, and usually takes place in February, along Fitzroy Street, St. Kilda. Welcoming over 45,000 spectators, and more than 7,000 pride marchers, this has become Victoria's largest pride march. The very first pride march in Melbourne took place in 1996, governed by Pride March Victoria, and welcomed an impressive 11,000 people. Today, tributes are still paid to this iconic moment in Melbourne's pride history.
As well as providing an incredible three-week festival each year in Melbourne, Midsumma Festival has evolved into one of Australia's most important queer arts organizations. It continues to nuture queer art and culture, by giving voice to generations of LGBTQ people, as well as discovering new artists and initiating pertinent conversations.
For 2021, Midsumma Festival will be kicking off on April 19, and will welcome a series of live and online events over the course of the three weeks. The jam-packed program will cover many different interest groups including drag, gay, feminist, trans, and older demographics, and come in the form of films, talks, workshops, music, sporting events, and live streams. Unfortunately for 2021, the classic Midsumma Carnival will not be taking place. Alternatively, Midsumma Festival, in partnership with Arts Centre Melbourne, will be offering a great program of live performance, comedy and music hosted at the iconic Sidney Myer Music Bowl on Friday April 30 and Saturday May 1.
The Sidney Myer Music Bowl will be transformed into a socially-distanced, Covid-safe space, and will welcome a maximum of 6000 people. Should you miss out on a ticket, the event will be livestreamed on both nights on the Midsumma Festival Facebook page. The spectacle will be the same each night in order to give as many people the opportunity to experience the diverse mix of LGBTQIA+ artists, performers, and communities.
The second signature event for Midsumma Festival is the incredible Pride March, and for 2021, St. Kilda will come alive on Sunday, May 23. 2021 will mark the 26th anniversary of Melbourne's Pride March in St. Kilda, and all the revelry will kick off on Fitzroy Street at 11am, then eventually finish up at Catani Gardens with post-pride celebrations. As part of the event's Covid-safe plan, post-march afterparty will only be accesible to pre-registered marchers and not the general public. Additionally, those wishing to watch/attend the march are encouraged to do so by either booking a place at one of the restaurants lining Fitzroy Street or watching the livestream from home. The livestream will be available on the Midsumma Festival Facebook page.
Along with these two events, enjoy many different events throughout Melbourne over the course of the three-week festival. Look forward to everything from drag shows, cabaret performances, pertinant discussions, theatre, dance, and even a day of lawn bowls! See details on the program, and get ready to experience your pride down under in Melbourne for Midsumma Festival 2021.