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Five Unmissable Events to Check Out at Rising Festival

Prepare your diary now for supernatural winter forests and once-off food pop-ups.
By Libby Curran
May 13, 2021
By Libby Curran
May 13, 2021


Prepare your diary now for supernatural winter forests and once-off food pop-ups.

UPDATE Thursday, June 17: Rising Festival 2021 has been cancelled due to Melbourne's COVID-19 outbreak and resulting snap lockdown.


Arts and culture festival Rising makes its much-anticipated debut this month, transforming precincts across the city with a program of installations, large-scale artworks, musical offerings and culinary delights. From May 26 to June 6, you'll be able to feast your senses on all sorts of immersive wonders, from a multi-level art carpark packed with specially commissioned works to an otherworldly forest set to reimagine the entire Sidney Myer Music Bowl precinct.

Here, we've rounded up some of the unmissable happenings to dig your teeth into at the inaugural Rising. Grab your tickets and get excited.

  • 5

    You’ve never seen the Sidney Myer Music Bowl quite like this. From May 26 to June 6, the iconic precinct will be transformed into a multi-sensory supernatural forest for The Wilds, inviting punters to immerse themselves in a captivating fusion of ice, art, sound and light.

    Traipse through its bamboo forest, marvel at large-scale sculptures and video works, and trip yourself out through mazes of mirrored illusions. In a nod to winters past, the stage itself will once again become a working ice-skating rink (yes, that really was a thing), where visitors can glide around beneath the giant glowing orb that is Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon installation. Hungry? You’ll find both a fine dining offering in the atrium and a menu of snacks to enjoy fireside, under the stars.

    Image: Museum of the Moon (2017) by Luke Jerram

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  • 4

    From May 26–June 6, the winding inner-city stretch of the Yarra — also known by its traditional name, Birrarung — will play host to a 200-metre-long glowing eel skeleton, undulating atop the water. This large-scale creature is a beauty, created by renowned public art crew The Lantern Company. Titled Wandering Stars, the piece reflects on First People’s connection to the river and nature, crafted from hundreds of community-made floating lanterns and shimmering glass eels, and emitting a mysterious soundscape as it moves.

    Your best views of the artwork are on the water’s edge at Birrarung Marr, where Wandering Stars‘ visual delights will be complemented by riverside pop-up kitchens from Meatsmith, delivering a soul-warming, charcoal-fuelled winter menu. Cosy up to the likes of slow-cooked beef short rib, and fancy hot chocolates with house-made clove and orange marshmallows.

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  • 3

    Rising’s debut will see Chinatown come alive with an eclectic program of giant projections, colourful parades and other immersive artistic delights. And at the precinct’s core is the elaborate Golden Square pop-up, transforming Lonsdale Street’s multi-level carpark into a multi-faceted homage to creativity and big ideas.

    Nightly for the festival’s duration (May 26–June 6) the building’s concrete storeys will be reimagined as a dynamic art gallery space, showcasing new commissioned works by legendary Aussie artists including Reko Rennie, Lucy Bleach and Parallel Park, all speaking to the theme of ‘inland tides’. On the rooftop, expect towering projections, ice sculptures crafted from frozen lake water and other contemporary works, along with top-notch libations from Fancy Free.

    Top image: work by Lucy Bleach

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  • 2

    One of the transformative multi-sensory works set to grace the Rising program invites audiences to (literally) submerge themselves deeper than ever before. The brainchild of sound artists Sara Retallick and Amanda Roff, Flow State takes the form of a sonic bathing experience, set beneath the stars on Herring Island.

    As a guest, you’ll be boated to the island, where you’ll slip into a private heated tub for your sonic bath, letting the curation of soundwaves and vibrations transcend your body and mind. Because of this conduction process, the work’s designed to be enjoyed nude, though you’ll have the option of keeping those togs on if you’d rather. Only a handful of lucky people will be able to partake in Flow State, with a select audience chosen via a raffle, which is being drawn on Monday, May 17.

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  • 1

    Tjanabi is set to be reborn as a once-off dinner event at the Melbourne Town Hall, inviting diners to experience a taste of culinary concepts deeply ingrained in the past and future of First Peoples food culture. The event sees Parbin-ata Dr Carolyn Briggs — a Boon Wurrung senior elder, and chairperson and founder of the Boon Wurrung Foundation — reimagine her popular Federation Square eatery from over a decade ago.

    Guests will be invited to listen to the stories behind culinary traditions, while tucking into a menu centred around Indigenous cooking techniques and flavours native to the region. Across a sumptuous four-course feast on Friday, June 4, guests will traverse through clay baking, native raw seafood and pre-domesticated superfoods. Expect plenty of tactile demonstrations throughout the night.

    Images: Eugene Hyland

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