The third largest queer festival in all of Australia, Feast — the Queer Arts & Cultural Festival of Adelaide — returns this fall for its 21st year celebrating and honoring the LGBTQ community of South Australia. From Nov. 11–26, Feast will bring film screenings, live performances, a Pride march, panel discussions and numerous parties to the masses, and it’s the perfect time to head down under and join in the fun.
Twenty-one is a milestone year for the festival, and it’s one that holds special significance for Aussies. As the festival’s producer Margie Fischer tells us, “In Australian culture, 21 is coming of age, reaching full adulthood. It’s a time of refection on the past, celebrating the present and looking towards the future. So of course there will be a big party.”
The audience for a massive event like Feast Festival spans all sorts of queer people and allies — “young people, community elders and everyone in between,” says Fischer. “Many straight people come to Feast due to our inclusive atmosphere and stunning program of arts and cultural events.” And far from being all-Aussie, the festival attracts both out-of-state and international visitors, all of whom are fond of Adelaide’s natural beauty (and the fact that all of its venues are within walking distance).
The fact that Australia is currently embroiled in a postal survey on same-sex marriage makes this year’s Feast Festival particularly of note. “The queer community are weary of the survey and the length of time it’s taking. And having to justify who we are and who we love can be hurtful and exhausting,” says Fischer. Results of the postal survey are slated to come out on Nov. 15, which happens to be half-way through the festival. Fischer calls that “great timing,” since whatever the results, Australia’s queer community will be able to celebrate (or mourn) in solidarity.
Past Feast Festivals have attracted a wide range of big-name talent, from 2014 Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst to trans porn star Buck Angel and pop star Dannii Minogue. The focus of this year’s festival is on Australia’s ‘home-grown artists,’ and that’s reflected in its two weeks of programming.
Here are 10 great reasons to attend this year’s Feast Festival in Adelaide:
1. The Pride March (Saturday, Nov. 11)
As queer festivals tend to do, Feast Festival kicks off its festivities with an annual Pride March that attracts more than 4,000 people.
This year’s march will be one for the record books indeed, featuring more LGBTQ community groups, supportive businesses, activists and allies than ever before, all in one magnificent parade.
Starting at Light Square, the parade will march through the streets of Adelaide to Victoria Square, which is only a short stroll to our number two reason.
2. The Opening Night Party (Saturday, Nov. 11)
All great queer events are kicked off with a party, right? As we mentioned, this year’s Fest Festival places a special emphasis on homegrown artists, and the Opening Night Party, taking place right on the street, is a great example of that.
Among the Aussie artists taking part are up-and-comers Electric Fields, whose work often features vocalist Zaachariaha Fielding’s traditional language of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara people. Their music is best described as a mix of pop and electronica, in the format of intimate story-songs.
Also set to perform is Aussie singer/songwriter Joanne, who burst onto the scene back in 1998 and has since won an ARIA (Australia Recording Industry Association) award and toured with the likes of Destiny’s Child, RuPaul, Crystal Waters and Nelly Furtado.
Also performing are The Janes, Burning Bush (dance-rap-soul) and local drag performers. Near the party’s end, DJ MumDad will play all your favorite queer songs on vinyl — a mix of disco, soul and rock.
3. Diamonds Are For Trevor (Friday, Nov. 10 & Saturday, Nov. 11)
Trevor Ashley is a world-renowned drag queen who will celebrate the 80th birthday of the one and only Shirley Bassey with an acclaimed two-act show at Her Majesty’s Theatre.
Ashley will be accompanied by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and will perform all of Bassey’s classic hits while decked out in sequins, jewels, big gowns and even bigger hair. Among the songs you should expect to hear: “Big Spender,” “Goldfinger,” “History Repeating” and, of course, “Diamonds Are Forever.”
4. Business Unfinished (Tuesday, Nov. 14 – Saturday, Nov. 18)
Tom Christophersen’s latest work is queer theater like you’ve never seen, as the show interweaves audio interviews with Australians who have experienced paranormal phenomena in their homes. He creates a spooky space where audiences witness the appearance of unexplained supernatural forces … and lip-sync disco.
5. Body Map (Saturday, Nov. 18)
Let Australia’s most celebrated queer performance artist, Glitta Supernova, guide you on an intimate, fleshy foray through the parallel universes of ’90s club culture. It’s been called “a 60-minute physical freeway that won’t be tarred for convenience.”
Body Map was the 2017 Winner of “Best in Fringe,” “Best Cabaret” and “Most Outstanding Performer.”
6. Tackling Diversity in the AFL (Sunday, Nov. 12)
If you know anything about Australia, you might know the nation loves its Aussie Rules Football, and the league is taking steps to stamp out homophobia in sports culture. This panel discussion will cover the evolution of women and LGBTQ people in the Australian Football League, the inception of female team the Adelaide Crows and ‘coming out’ as a male player.
This panel is a great example of the fact that while Feast Festival features a ton drag and musical performances, it also tackles serious topics affecting the queer community.
7. Picnic in the Park (Sunday, Nov. 26)
Fischer describes the closing event of Feast Festival as “a time to bring friends, family and your dog.” The annual community picnic will feature great food (courtesy of food stalls) and drink, people-watching and plenty of shade. There will be DJs spinning the hits, novelty races and a Kids Zone.
All of these reasons and more are sure to make for an amazing 21st annual Feast Festival. As a celebration of the diversity of Australia’s — and the world’s — queer people, it’s a great opportunity for the community to come together.
“Being part of the Pride March, Opening Night Party and Picnic in the Park is the queer community being the majority, feeling safe and proud,” says Fischer. “It’s especially good for young vulnerable people who are often fragile about their sexuality and gender. Also, those of us with families. Feast 2017 will be more joyful and out than ever.”