Your guide to the Yirramboi festival

A city-wide ‘Blak out’ is set to take over Melbourne’s streets, public spaces and laneways from Friday 5 May. Running until Sunday 14 May, the new Yirramboi festival is a celebration of local and international Indigenous-led arts and culture. An exciting program of dance, music, theatre,  visual art, workshops and events will be on offer.

A man balancing on his hands looking at the camera. He is wearing a hat with tattoos on his arms.

Blakflip/Circus Oz are performing at Meat Market as part of the Weelam Ngalut (Our Place) program at the Yirramboi festival.

Yirramboi features works created, choreographed, produced, directed and performed by Indigenous artists from across the globe. The festival is supported by Yirramboi’s Elders Council of Kulin Nations people, celebrating more than 60,000 years of artistic and cultural practice.

Yirramboi Creative Director, Jacob Boehme, says the festival will change expectations of an Indigenous event. ‘Erase all the language you’ve developed, or heard in the media, around Indigenous arts and culture.’ he says. ‘Those old ways of talking don’t apply to Yirramboi. Open your mind. Walls are being built around the world, so we need to be braver than ever.’

Taking place over 10 days, Yirrmaboi features a total of 60 events and 370 artists. Here are five things you need to see.

Recenter at City Gallery

Curated by Kimberley Moulton, Recentre; sisters presents the work of eight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women artists. The exhibition showcases new and existing work that voice Aboriginal women’s roles in activism, healthy communities and cultural maintenance. It also celebrates matriarchal narratives and sisterhood. Opens Friday 5 May at City Gallery.

A big group of women wearing bright colours and bright makeup

Curated by Kimberley Moulton, ‘Recentre; sisters’ presents the work of eight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women artists.

Ngarrga Bullarto Mirnian: Dance to the Big Moon

Get your glitter on and head to this heart-racing, foot-stomping electronica dance party which kicks off the festival. Tongbernag’i Ngargga boyz will rule the decks with Kulin star stories told by Taungurung Elder Uncle Larry Walsh. Runs Thursday 11 May at Federation Square.

Weelam Ngalut (Our Place) at Meat Market

The historic Meat Market arts venue will transform into the festival hub and the home of its performing arts program. Weelam Ngalut (Our Place) will be a dynamic mix of contemporary dance, circus, experimental and participatory theatre. See artists from around Australia as well as New Zealand, Canada, Wales and Zimbabwe. Runs from Friday 5 to Sunday 14 May.

An old man surrounded by mist and looking down with his etes closed.

Uncle Wes Marne, 95 year old Bigambul man and community elder is appearing in Fire Bucket, as part of Weelam Ngalut (Our Place) at Meat Market.

Barring Yanabul

This day-long city-wide treasure hunt of fun, provocative and interactive arts experiences will explore the blak heart of Melbourne. Grab a map and discover First Nations artists filling the streets, laneways, hidden places and secret spaces of the city. Kicking off with rapper Briggs at Flagstaff Gardens in the morning, it will also feature craft walks, Dreamtime storytelling and more. Runs Saturday 13 May.

Mission Songs at Melbourne Town Hall

Mission Songs revives contemporary Indigenous folk songs from the 20th century, presenting a musical journey of missions, settlements and reserves across Australia. It references the famous Palm Island strike, when seven men lead a strike for human rights on Palm Island, off the coast of North Queensland. Performers include Joe Geia (Gugu Yimithirr/Kaurareg), Jessie Lloyd (Gugu Yimithirr/Kaurareg) and Emma Donovan(Gumbainggir/Danggali & Naaguji/Yamitji). At Melbourne Town Hall, Sunday 7 May.

And for the kids…

Painting Movement at ArtPlay

Painting Movement is a special two-day dance and painting workshop for kids aged 9 to 12. On day one, children will create and rehearse dance sequences in pairs. On day two, parents and friends will be invited to watch as they share the giant collaborative live artwork with them.

A pair of feat with white paint and dirt on them

Painting Movement is a two-day workshop for children (9-12 years) at ArtPlay