As organisers put together the finishing touches for the Noosa Long Weekend Festival next month, festival director Ian Mackellar and festival president Johanne Wright provide a sneak preview at what audiences can expect from the standout cultural and artistic spectacular.
Magical, celebratory and fun. These are the three words Noosa Long Weekend Festival director Ian Mackellar uses to sum up the spectacular he has planned for when the annual event returns for its 15th anniversary from 15 to 24 July.
I’m talking to Ian and Noosa Long Weekend Festival’s president Johanne Wright about what audiences can expect during the 10 days of the 2016 festival, and based on their reactions – Ian’s eyes glowing with an uncontainable passion and Johanne’s fervent smile each time she mentions a new act – it’s going to be an incredible event that’s not to be missed.
Boasting in excess of 80 ticketed and non-ticketed events ranging from music, dance, theatre and film acts through to literature forums, thought-provoking discussions, food events, comedy performances and workshops across all genres, there’s certainly plenty to see and do.
Add to that a variety of free events targeted at capturing the hearts of audiences young and old, and it’s easy to see the recipe behind Australia’s foremost regional community arts and cultural festival’s success.
What’s unique about our festival is the opportunity to see a show that’s world-class, but also the opportunity after the show to meet the performers and perhaps have a drink with them.”
“As cliched as it sounds, part of our mission here at Noosa Long Weekend Festival is to ensure there is something to suit everyone – to suit all tastes, all ages and all budgets as well,” says Ian.
“One of the major things about this festival is that we are trying to ensure there are plenty of things for our community. We want to bring the best of the best into Noosa so people don’t have to go to Melbourne or Sydney to enjoy them,” adds Johanne.
“We have a range of wonderful national and international performers coming out. We go from opera at one level to smokey jazz and blues at the other and everything in between.”
This year’s event is headlined by international cabaret diva Meow Meow, who is flying in from London especially for a one night appearance at the festival. Her much anticipated performance is set to follow on from the Hastings Street carnivale parade, which will see the festival opened in a flurry of colour, sequins and feathers that will culminate on the beach with a night-time skydiving spectacular.
What will ensue throughout the 10 days of the festival is a who’s who of the art, performance and cultural world. Crowd favourites Queensland Ballet will perform an incredible array of awe-inspiring works. Concert pianist Julian Gargiulo will leave audiences enamoured with his spine-tingling performance. Plus, in a magical combination that will connect audiences to the earth through the power of music, Didgeridoo player William Barton will team up with classical outfit, Southern Cross Soloists.
The list goes on, with audiences also getting the opportunity to meet these breath-taking performers both during workshops and in a once-in-a-lifetime experience thanks to the festival’s newest addition, Locale after Dark.
“What’s unique about our festival is the opportunity to see a show that’s world-class, but also the opportunity after the show to meet the performers and perhaps have a drink with them at the bar. It makes for an up close and personal experience,” says Ian of the pop-up performances set to take place at Locale Restaurant each night from 8pm.
“One of my greatest joys is to see people leaving an event and you know when they’ve got that smile on their face that they’ve just experienced something special. I’m like a kid then, because that to me is what it’s all about.”
He adds that the workshops take it one step further and urges art lovers to take advantage of the opportunity they offer.
“You have these amazing once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to work with these nationally and internationally renowned people in a masterclass, so why wouldn’t you?” he asks.
“What I love is that with these events, Mum and Dad will come along, but they’ll bring along their little proteges, and I get so much joy when I see youth coming to this festival because they’re the audiences of the future, and if they’re inspired now I believe we are contributing to the ongoing wellbeing of arts and culture in this community.”
With their food events selling out fast and spaces quickly filling for the many fantastic performances, forums and workshops, those who wish to participate in this incredible artistic and cultural experience will need to hurry if they want to avoid missing out.
“To me, the uniqueness of the location, the intimacy of the performances, and the wonderful injection of the community spirit that is evident over the 10 days of the festival, that is what makes the Noosa Long Weekend Festival so very special,” says Ian.
For more information or to purchase tickets to one of the many fantastic events at the 2016 Noosa Long Weekend Festival, call 5329 6560, visit www.noosalongweekendfestival.com, or call into The J Theatre at Noosa Junction.