Festival Fever at Noosa Alive!

Image source: Contributed

Ten days of sheer delight mixed with a cacophony of laughter and a riot of colour, contributed to the resounding success of Noosa Alive, enthuses Helen Flanagan. 

The stars aligned for the 20th year of Noosa Alive, originally called Noosa Long Weekend. A multiplicity of stages in restaurants, theatres, Hastings Street, the Junction precinct, and on Noosa Main Beach, played host to a plethora of genres, celebrities, literati and hot topics from opera, comedy, movies, food, books, plays, music, song, dance, and even a lighting spectacle.

Opening night was an absolute blast when genius James Morrison, who works with the cream of the world’s best performers, nearly blew the roof off The J Theatre with an evening of swinging jazz standards, sublime ballads, haunting Latin numbers, and inspiring stories along the way. 

To call Paul Kelly and Paul Grabowsky Australian music royalty is no exaggeration when they bring that voice and that piano (and the occasional harmonica) to the stage. Performing works from their ARIA-award-winning album Please Leave Your Light On, pairing Kelly’s songs with Grabowsky’s talent to reimagine them, was astonishing albeit emotional. 

Noosa Arts Theatre presented the very funny Money & Friends, a classic David Williamson comedy set in the beach resort town of Crystal Inlet, about four highly-strung couples who regularly meet to escape, dissect their big city lives and the true cost of priceless friendships. New faces and old favourites made up the outstanding cast.

The Multicultural Comedy Gala with the star-studded line-up of Akmal, Georgie Caroll, Ting Lim and Steph Tisdell had the audience spinning with giggles and mirth whilst celebrating cultural diversity.

It was a spectacular French-style cirque, cabaret, magic and burlesque performance by the extraordinary showgirl ‘Porcelain Alice’ in Paris Underground. 

The Grigoryan Brothers’ music is based on Australian historic objects/stories from the National Museum of Australia, such as a box of trial lenses and frames Fred Hollows carried from town to town in 1970, and a Song For The Road about the first prototype of the Holden Sedan 1946.

At breakfast, local Lisa Millar presented Daring to Fly, about conquering her fear of flying, also finding joy in her successful journalist career at the ABC, while author Geraldine Brooks told of her late-in-life horse riding passion which lead to her latest novel, Horse. 

It was double dipping with deliciousness at Noosa Springs Golf & Spa Resort when Slow Food Noosa presented a favourite event, Film With Food. Delicious, set in the 18th century just prior to the Revolution, is a French comedy/drama – aka an airy trifle about rich meals and serving up one’s passion – provided it is not a form of servitude. Inspired by the film, three chefs led by the celebrated Matt Golinski, created three indulgent courses. 

Thanks for the Memories, a sell-out lunch at Noosa Waterfront, starred the effervescent Al Rossi who was joined on stage by son Damien Anthony Rossi aka Hollywood in Oz for a nostalgic walk down memory lane peppered with hilarity, wit and charm. And just a few tears.

Noosa Main Beach and Hastings Street formed a stunning event space for First Light, a contemporary video art and photography installation presented by Natures Mortes and Nguthuru-Nur in conjunction with the Noosa Regional Gallery. 

Hastings Street, bathed in warm winter sunshine and looking its sartorial best with tables from Rococo, Locale, Aromas, Bistro C, Sails and Season dressed to the nines, and appetites satiated at the notoriously fun-filled Long Lunch. 

Once again opera aficionados declared Moonlight Serenade under the stars in the EVIE marquee on Noosa Main Beach, one of the best events on the program delighting audiences with fabulous, food and glorious performances. Also on Noosa Main Beach, Seaside Vibes a 2-day mini music festival, had everyone dancing in the sand at sunset. Sunday’s Jazz n’ Blues was a fitting finale to the festival with a big very appreciative crowd enjoying the best jazz and blues vocalists, and musicians from around Australia. Buoyed by liquid refreshments from The Ohana Group, Ryan Fitzpatrick also pumped out delectable well-priced dishes before flicking across to late afternoon grazing plates. A well-drilled band of volunteers kept tables cleared and the area spotless. 

Twelve finalists were selected for the inaugural Noosa Stars Alive, the brainchild of Festival Director Ian MacKellar, designed to showcase local rising stars aged 8-18 years. Host was the effusive Damien Anthony Rossi, who introduced bands Ampersand and Staple, four dance performances from soloists to ensemble ballet works, a contortionist, violinist and exceptional vocalists and duets. Singer/songwriter Sari Abbott won over the judges with her original song Too Much Space. 

The 20th anniversary of Noosa Alive! 2022 crossed the finishing line triumphantly, with an overwhelming thumbs up from capacity audiences everywhere for a mighty colourful, diverse and entertaining program, much to the delight of the Festival Director Ian MacKellar, Festival President Andrew Stafford and the board.

Noosa Alive! returns in 2023 from Friday 21 July to Sunday 30 July, with another inspirational program, new relationships, sponsors and clever collaborations such as curating events with Michael Brennan and the Noosa Regional Gallery. 

About the Author /


Noosa’s sophisticated charm, vibrant food culture and the magnetism of a subtropical paradise surrounded by national parks, inveigled Helen’s manic world and flipped it on its side. She pursues the good life with gusto, instinctively understanding the joys of travel, the art of story-telling, a candid review and surviving another reno whilst thriving on the motto Live Laugh Love!

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