2021 Festival Guides

Curated Itineraries, Just for You

Wed 19 May

If you're feeling lost, don't fret. We've done the hard yards to chart your course across our festival's districts.

You’re not alone in being overwhelmed by our first festival program—it’s a whopper. Whether you’re a family looking for guidance on how to satisfy both young and old; need hot tips on where to party late; or want a beat-by-beat breakdown of how we’ll be spending our weekends; these quick itineraries are a good place to start.


RISING’s first program isn’t just for adults. There are big ideas, accessible for all ages, embedded throughout the festival. Many of which are free, or cheap, to attend and have been designed to share First Peoples stories and experiences.

Start your evening on the river at dusk by listening to the serene call of The Rivers Sing. Next, take a lantern-making workshop and become part of our 500-metre-long lantern installation Wandering Stars—for prime viewing, jump aboard a river cruise.

Refuel with a bite at our Birrarung kitchens then head over to Hamer Hall and check out the giant eel spirit animating its surface, care of Ancestral Memory. Finally, to finish your journey from ancient knowledge through to contemporary art, keep an eye out for a Melbourne Art Tram running along Swanston and Bourke Streets—for the firs time, each one has been designed by a First Peoples artist.


Begin your night with a show at the Comedy Theatre—our gilded hall of music. Take in otherworldly R&B by Connan Mockasin; The Necks’s improvised majesty; or full-band album launches by Sweet Whirl and Gregor.

Next, follow contributing artist Jason Phu’s recommendations on where to eat in Chinatown, before checking out the district’s free art works: the hearts of the people are measured by the size of the land; Banksia by Atong Atem; and Michael Candy's Persistence of Vision. Or dive into the boundary-pushing contemporary art and cocktails at Golden Square before getting lost in the night’s real-life stories at The Nightline.


Start your night with a two-for-one hit of bold theatre and pioneering music at Back to Back Theatre’s Food Court, scored live by The Necks. Then head over to our supernatural forest of ice, art, food and sound at The Wilds. Head to the back of the Bowl and order a dish whipped-up in our collaborative kitchens, run by Shannon Martinez and Australia’s best chefs.

Sat 29 May

Outside Melbourne Town Hall, start your night with a warming broth at Stock Exhange for lunch or dinner; today’s menu is created by social enterprise Free to Feed. Then take a few steps over to Mission Control to grab some wild merch (have a peak here), before making your way to the roof of Golden Square for a cocktail by travelling bar crew Fancy Free. Then fire-up for party rap with a dose of unflinching commentary at Barkaa’s Max Watts show.

Sun 30 May

It’s been a big weekend, so today’s about taking it easy and treating yourself. Head to the river and learn about the eel’s mysterious migration, and the First Peoples stories embedded in the night sky, at Wandering Stars. Then book a table at our luminous, glasshouse restaurant The Lighthouse: where you’ll dine on an original three-course menu by David Moyle (Franklin, Longsong), with a wine list picked by Blackhearts & Sparrows Co-Founder Jess Ghaie. And to top it off, your booking at The Lighthouse includes a ticket to The Wilds too.

James Tapscott, Arc Zero, 2019

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