Midsumma Festival

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Midsumma Festival
Carnival crowd at Alexandra Garden
Carnival crowd at Alexandra Garden 2010
GenreLGBT festival
Location(s)Melbourne, Australia

Midsumma Festival is an annual celebration of LGBTQIA+ arts and cultures, held annually for 22 days across January and February in Melbourne, Australia. The festival began as a one-week celebration of gay pride in 1989. The festival has expanded over the years to a three-week event that attracts over 280,000 people each year. The festival is now one of the top five gay and lesbian arts and cultural celebrations, along with New York, San Francisco, Vancouver and Sydney.

Although the primary festival is held in summer each year, Midsumma works year-round to provide artists, social changers and cultural makers with support and tools to create, present and promote their work. Midsumma is an open-access festival. Each year over 5000 culture makers, artists and performers present their shows or works in over 100 Melbourne venues over the 22-day Festival. The two main categories are Performing Arts and Visual Arts.

Midsumma's visual arts program features exhibitions in and around Melbourne from local, national and international gay artists. Yarra Arts and Queer City play home to many of the exhibitions.

The festival's performing arts program includes musicals, theatre, cabaret, film, spoken word, music events and dance parties. These performing arts events are largely produced by the community.

Midsumma Carnival[edit]

Midsumma Carnival is a signature event of the Festival curated to be safe and fun for EVERYBODY. Held on the opening weekend and traditionally held in Alexandra Gardens with stalls, food, and entertainment from 11am to 11pm. The main stage includes entertainment from the coming festival program to showcase and promote the coming events.

Each year, Midsumma Carnival brings back the audience favourites (yes and the dog show) and adding a pinch of lip-syncing, drag dazzling, stellar acts, fine food and a pop-up bar. You can peek at the Festival program with bite sized performances, relax in the chill-out zone, meet friends in the family domain, tackle the sports precinct and stay cool in the under 18s area. The full day of activities leads into the evening of T Dance, featuring a fantastic line-up of sassy sounds and DJs.

Midsumma Carnival Dog Show: The iconic Midsumma Dog Show is a crowd favourite. A fun day out in the park with your pooch where you and your pet can win prizes, judged by a panel and celebrated by the audiences. Categories include: Cutest Bitch; Sexiest Stud; Best Trick; Best Dressed; Best Owner/Dog Combo; and then the ultimate Best Dog Overall.

Stages: Main Stage and Picnic Stage

Precincts: Sports, Youth, Family, Tea Tent (for older audiences) and a Chill Out Zone

*No Glass Allowed!

T Dance[edit]

The day is brought to a close with the T Dance, Midsumma's dance party under the stars. Artists who have performed at T Dance include Slinkee Minx, Trevor Ashley, Ricki-Lee, Paul Heron, Inaya Day, and the Divine Knights.

Queer City[edit]

Queer City was a collaboration between City of Melbourne, Arts Victoria, Midsumma, and local galleries and artists from the gay community. In 2012 the Queer City was focussed around 1000 Pound Bend Gallery and performance venue, in Little Lonsdale St, Melbourne along with City Library and a new exhibition space known as Mailbox 141, which is the old glass and wooden mailboxes of 141 Flinders Lane, that have been converted into a small art exhibition space.

There is an exhibition of Vivien St James’ work, a celebration of fluid or ‘unstable’ gender at Platform Space, as well as exhibitions at Guilford Lane Gallery and fortyfive downstairs.

Re/Gendered brings together international and Australian artists in a group exhibition that celebrates the notion of fluid or 'unstable' gender, striving to transgress and blur the boundaries of gender performance.

Yarra Arts[edit]

Yarra Arts is the collaboration between the City of Yarra, Arts Victoria, Midsumma, local galleries and artists from the gay community.

In 2009 this exhibition series featured a premier event from T.J. Bateson, a group show, TransMasculinities, which explored aspects of gender, as well as a range of work at the artist run gallery initiative 69 Smith Street on the street of the same name, in Melbourne's Fitzroy. T.J.Bateson’s new body of work, Veiled In Plain Sight, was created specifically for Midsumma celebrating the relaunch of Tacit Contemporary Art in Abbotsford. It was off the back of the exhibition series, Transmen Translated in 2008, that artist and curator Jesslyn Moss brought together TransMasculinities, a Midsumma group show featuring photography, painting, drawing and video by eight Female to Male artists from Australia, the UK and the United States. The exhibition explored new ideas of masculinity and offered an insight into the physical and psychological aspects of transgender butch, gender queer and transmasculine experiences, and was shown at Red Gallery. 69 Smith Street featured work from Benja, Mark Bareald, Gary Campbell, J. Kristensen, Piepke, Mel Simpson and Rat Simpson and explored concepts ranging from identity, relationship and material assumptions through photography, and even playful work which portraying women's relationships with each other and the open road. The 2009 Yarra Arts Exhibition was launched on Wednesday 20 January at 69 Smith Street Gallery.

In 2012, Ross Watson presented his 25th Anniversary exhibition series entitle Cycles & Sequences which explored cycles of life, notions of time and endurance, change and transition in today's disposable society. Cycles & Sequences included the first ever paintings of the Bel Ami stars, Lukas Ridgeston, Kris Evan and Dolph Lambert. Celebrating positive gay role models in his art has been an important aspect of Watson's work, and this exhibition featured Lance Corporal James Wharton II, who appeared on the front cover of the U.K.'s Armed Forces magazine in 2009, as a soldier who is openly gay. Of the exhibition Professor Martin Comte OAM, PhD said 'In his latest series of works, Ross Watson displays a maturity that clearly stamps him as one of Australia's outstanding artists.'

Registered events[edit]

The majority of Midsumma Festival events are within the umbrella events program. That is, they are created, produced and funded by independent third parties who pay fees for inclusion in the Midsumma Festival each year. In 2012 there were approximately 160 events.

Midsumma Boards and Management[edit]

  • Midsumma Festival Inc. is an incorporated association.
  • The Chair of Midsumma Festival is John Caldwell
  • The Board of Midsumma Festival includes Dr. Jane Daniels, Rodney George, Dean Hamood (Treasurer), Aaron Hockly, Rachel "Rat" Simpson, Kate Wickett. Mark Latchford resigned in March 2012.
  • The Festival Manager is Monique Thorpe.



  • Chair: Lisa Watts, Board:
  • General Manager: Adam J Lowe


  • Chair: Lisa Watts, Board:
  • General Manager: Adam J Lowe



  • General Manager: Jarrod Hughes
  • Festival Administrator: Molly Whelan


  • Chief Executive: Karen Bryant
  • Programming Manager: Daniel Santangeli
  • Finance & Office Manager: Angus Li
  • Marketing Manager: Felicity McIntosh
  • Administrator: Matt Hirst
  • Communications & Website: Alan Drummond
  • Midsumma Board

See also[edit]


External links[edit]