With so many free events on during festival season in Perth, the only difficult part is fitting everything into the diary! Immerse yourself in world class art and music, hear big ideas and bedtime stories, celebrate Chinese culture and discover the tiniest zines on the planet – all without spending a dime. We’ve rounded up some highlights so you can spend more time and less money living the festival life.
FREE PERTH FESTIVAL EVENTS
Siren Song – Image by Toni Wilkinson
We’ve included Siren Song in past festival articles, but it is really going to be a standout of this year’s Perth Festival program and an unparalleled sonic spectacle. We love that it will be a new way to experience sunrise and sunset each day from 9 to 18 February, and we highly recommend bringing the family to Gnark-ba Karla Waarnginy (Speaking Fires of Our Mother), a cleansing and clearing ceremony in St Georges Terrace on Friday 9 February to welcome in the 2018 Festival.
At Fremantle Arts Centre is a radically different museum that showcases our connection to the world’s most essential life source. Museum of Water has seen UK artist Amy Sharrocks travel around WA for the past year, and now her collection of over 500 bottles of water and their stories is on view until 23 March. Festival weekends see a free program of boat-building workshops, conversations and youth-led tours. Be transported to Reunion Island, Ghana, South Africa and Kenya at the Sunday Music: Oceanic Sessions.
Boy, does the Perth Festival Visual Arts Program look fantastic! In past years we have enjoyed the festival exhibitions on display at John Curtin Gallery, and in 2018 it will once again be one to visit, with Lisa Reihana (NZ) an artist to watch on the global art scene right now. The best day to experience the visual arts program is Saturday 17 February as part of the Visual Arts Adventure, when you can rub shoulders with many of the artists and curators.
The Chevron Gardens Gardens Stage returns full of live and local musical delights every night for free. Koi Child DJs kick off the fun on 9 February, and on Valentines Day Carla Geneve’s robust vocals will set the stage for love; while 8–piece pop powerhouse The Brow will start the party on 21 February. Other acts to look out for include Soukouss Internationale, Elli Schoen and Boom Bap Pow!. On Happy Mondays, the M.O.V.E Foundation promote better living through the power of music.
Festival Conversations present an opportunity to hear directly from the creative minds behind the Perth Festival program about some of the big issues of our time. Be sure to keep some weekend afternoons free for topics from ‘Our past, present & future through the prism of water’ (10 Feb) and ‘Personal narratives in a shifting world’ (18 Feb) to ‘The sacred and the profane’ (3 Mar) and ‘Front and Centre – Celebrating Difference’ (4 Mar).
This year’s Writers Week stretches out into small bars, galleries, libraries and the streets themselves. Spend some time at Strange Company hearing about making dreams come true, joining words and lives or the secrets of authors. Discover the links between food and Alzheimers (waitlist only) and hear the poets speak. And be sure to plan your weekend (24-25 February) at the University Club of Western Australia.
In The Sound of Picture Books, author Danny Parker and illustrator/composer Matt Ottley join WASO’s string quintet and Yamaha’s Alf Demasi in this unique performance featuring narration, music, imagery, drama and demonstrations of composition and illustration. This event, on 25 February, will be something special for all ages.
FREE FRINGE WORLD 2018 EVENTS
The Pleasure Craft is a quirky wooden boat with a thousand stories to tell. Salvaged from the bottom of the Swan River, she’s been given a second chance at life. Nights on the Pleasure Craft is a series of free pop-up performances at The Pleasure Garden. Check the blackboard at the Gage Roads Container Bar to see what’s on each week.
LeedyPalooza includes Un-Fair Day on 11 February, “the best-worst family street fair you’re most unwelcome to attend. Unlucky dips, bad family portraits, misfortune cookies and weirdly wonderful creations. Unfair Day will be regrettably unforgettable”. Brought to you by Leederville Connect with Gelo and Stranger Danger Dinners (!), this sounds like a fun day out for families. If you wish your life was a music video, head over to Dancin’ in the Street on 18 February.
The 2018 Perth Chinese New Year Fair also comes to Northbridge on Sunday 18 February. With a colourful parade, stalls, cultural activities, lion and dragon dancing, multicultural concert, games and rides, if last year’s event is anything to go by, it’s going to be huge. Pack the suncream for this one, and be sure to pop over to William St for a sneaky Chicho gelato.
Over at Scarborough Beach as part of the Summerset Arts Festival, you can enjoy Under the Sky Sessions (Winner: Best Free Community Event, Fringe World 2017) this weekend. Spend your Saturday and Sunday evenings enjoying free local and live acoustic music. Another great way to experience the sunset this festival season!
And it looks like we’ve come full circle… happy festival season!