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RISING Melbourne 2023

Brighten your winter with nearly two weeks of art, culture, music, performance and culinary goodness.
By Concrete Playground
May 16, 2023
By Concrete Playground
May 16, 2023

in partnership with


If the waning temperatures have got you feeling frosty about the cooler months to come, here's something that'll warm up your outlook: Naarm's (Melbourne's) major citywide arts festival RISING is back. As always, it promises to be the bright spark in Victoria's winter. From Wednesday, June 7 till Sunday, June 18, a blockbuster 185-event program is transforming the city streets — and it's set to be a monumental affair. More than 400 artists are assembling for almost two jam-packed weeks of art, culture, music, performance and culinary goodness.

There are 35 works commissioned exclusively for the festival and an impressive 12 world premieres set to happen. Alongside the already-announced Euphoria, which will take over Melbourne Town Hall with an immersive multi-screen film installation starring Cate Blanchett (as a tiger on the hunt, no less), the program is filled with a hefty and diverse array of happenings. Large-scale events abound, not least of which is Shadow Spirit — a showcase of First Peoples-led projects across the realms of art, performance, music, food and more — which takes over abandoned rooms in Flinders Street Station.

Another large-scale offering is The Rink, which fantastically will be sticking around for longer than RISING's residency. From Thursday, June 1 till Saturday, July 8, it's the place for carving icy laps in Birrarung Marr on the banks of the Yarra. There's warming snacks (like pizza courtesy of Fugazi) and even more bevs (like boozy Mörk hot choccies and mulled wine). The Rink's precinct is free to enter and is kept toasty by fireplaces, so even if you're not lacing your skates, it's a magical spot to hang.

Then on Saturday, June 10, a mass participatory work by composer Ciaran Frame will hit Federation Square. The free experience will see 10,000 biodegradable kazoos played simultaneously by eager locals (like you). While Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde's SPARK takes the form of a wondrous floating light show, animating thousands of 'fireflies' crafted from biodegradable materials from Wednesday, June 7 till Saturday, June 10.

On the music front, there's a bunch of shows with tickets still available (you're too late for Ethel Cain or Thundercat, sadly). Catch Flying Lotus on Saturday, June 17; Paul Kelly on Tuesday, June 6 and Wednesday, June 7; and many more. Gigs are hitting the Forum, Max Watt's and the Melbourne Recital Centre for the duration of the festival.

RISING's free festival hub Night Trade is taking over the grounds of St Paul's Cathedral for the duration of the spectacular fest. It comes to life with super-sized surrealist art from Poncili Creción, live performances, hawker-style dining by Free to Feed, patio bars with bevs and sans-booze sips aplenty, and even a smattering of drag karaoke. Gather here with your group, get fed and plan the rest of your festival explorations.

RISING will take over Melbourne from Wednesday, June 7 till Sunday, June 18. To plan your visit, head to the website.

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