On the Horizon: Horizon Festival

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Deb Caruso previews what’s on the horizon for the Sunshine Coast’s leading Arts and Cultural Festival

Horizon Festival returns to full force in 2021 with a mind-blowing program that promises to be nothing short of spectacular!

In its sixth year, the Festival will build on its reputation as the premier Arts and Cultural Festival on the Sunshine Coast with a 10-day celebration of the arts, where local and national artists come together to offer vibrant, immersive and entertaining experiences for all ages, from 27 August to 5 September.

Visual art, music, theatre, dance, film and creative workshops, some world-premieres and Sunshine Coast-firsts with a few cheeky surprises add up to a world-class Festival designed to honour and celebrate the local community with performances at existing event venues,  beaches, parks and hinterland spaces.

Venues will range from existing event spaces to pop-up performances and open environment immersions including a mix of from Stumer’s Creek, Coolum to Happy Valley and Dicky Beach in Caloundra; and everywhere in between such as Chambers Island, Maroochy Bushland Botanic Gardens, Cotton Tree Park; Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve in Maleny; and Baroon Lake, Montville.

The festival will take absolute delight in the natural beauty of the region and pay deep respect to the Traditional Custodians of this country; the Kabi Kabi and Jinibara Peoples of the coastal plains and hinterlands of the Sunshine Coast, who are the original storytellers and artists of these lands. A First Nations Advisory Group headed by Curator Lydia Fairhall will deliver heartfelt connections to place and engage the community to honour and understand the First Nations People through emotive and stirring presentations.

Kids will delight with shows, activities and workshops to play, make, dance, sing, laugh and learn. Rehearsals are well underway for the Common People Dance Eisteddfod which will result in a storm of sequins, sweat and spandex; and I’ve Been Meaning To Ask You will be a riotous theatrical experience full of questions asked by young people, and answered by adults, such as: Why do you have to go to work? How come adults drink to have fun? What was life like before the Internet?

The Open Air music program will be a beautiful collision of music, people and place. From sweeping hilltops to hidden lakes and spectacular ocean-scapes, some of Australia’s most loved musicians will deliver intimate concerts in spectacular natural environments. Highlights include Yirinda at Lake Baroon that will blend ancient Aboriginal language and sublime improvisation; rock-goddess Sarah McLeod (of The Superjesus) will be accompanied by a baby-grand piano and the crashing waves of the ocean at Dicky Beach; an afternoon of dreamy music inspired by the fog rolling over eucalypt-laden mountains of Montville will be delivered by Louise King on cello and Monika Koerner on flute; and as the sun sets over Mount Tibrogargan, Ensemble Beyond Borders will present the World Premiere of Songs of GAIA (a twilight gathering), a poignant cross-cultural music performance that celebrates the rich cultural diversity of our people and the majesty of Gaia (Mother Earth).

The Visual Arts program will immerse people in art and the environment in which it has been purposefully placed. Final Call will present new works by six leading visual artists as their response to Climate Change. Installed in the Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Garden, an innovative digital experience will also inclulde a 360 degree view of each work, artist interviews and insights. Don’t miss the official opening and tour and Final Call Kids program.

Keith Hamlyn’s mesmerising I SEA U ocean portraits captures people’s connection to the sea and will be appropriately installed in Happy Valley.

Celebrate the Queens of comedy with LOL: Ladies of Laughter featuring Australia’s boldest female comedians with no topic off limit. Daring and bold, these women are fierce, fabulous and hilariously funny.

How To Spell Love at Eumundi’s The Store Gallery will combine evocative poetry, dance and a powerful percussive soundtrack in a multi-screen video installation that navigates relationships, identity, culture and place. Mingle with the makers of this triumphant act of personal storytelling on opening night.

For Homegrown talent, Country is Calling curated by Jason Murphy will explore the intricate connection between people and place through the stories of emerging and established Jinibara artists. The culturally-significant Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve with views to the ancestral Glasshouse Mountains plays host for this as well as Mimburi Ninyangurra, capturing the essence of ‘Dreamtime Travellers’ with sculptural installations that explore the flow of cultural knowledge. The ceremonial opening with is not-to-be-missed.

Lung Water by Ruby Donohoe will see a collision of theatre, dance, audio and sculpture at Maroochydore’s Chambers Island. Hold your breath for this mesmerising performance about a disappearing sea and a disappearing self; and Poetical Inhabitants is an innovative dance-theatre work that considers what makes a house a home.

The centrepiece of the Festival will no doubt be the Wonderland Spiegeltent overlooking the water at Cotton Tree Park. This Sunshine Coast-first will transport audiences to an era of cheek and charm, sass and sophistication within its decadent art-deco walls. The Spiegeltent Garden will be Live & Local with food, drinks and live music while inside another world awaits with everything from the cabaret hooligans of Club Briefs to the heart-stopping acrobatics and aerials of Circus Wonderland – A Mermaid’s Tale; comedy led by Steph Tisdell’s Black Out; the Common People Dance Eisteddfod; hands-on workshops; and littlies will dazzle at the Disco Rainbow Sparkle Dance Party.

Dawn Awakening at Stumers Creek, Coolum will connect us to country and culture through stories, songs, visual art projections, spoken word and dance. Directed by Gubbi Gubbi Songman Lyndon Davis with the Gubbi Gubbi Dance Troupe and First Voices Choir, alongside guest artists Songwoman Maroochy Barambah and Joe Geia. What a fitting end to a fabulous Festival!

About the Author /


Deb has 25+ years' experience providing strategic communications and brand reputation advice to clients in the government, business and not-for-profit clients. She is passionate about Noosa and is an active member of her community, providing PR to Slow Food Noosa and other clients. Her passion lies in working with small businesses to help them succeed. She is planning to release the Tastes of Noosa cookbook with Matt Golinski in 2019.

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