Kicking off the dry season in the Top End, Garrmalang Festival is back for 2021 over the weekend of May 29 and 30.

A celebration of culture in the Territory, the festival brings music and art to the heart of Darwin on Larrakia Country.

Garrmalang, the traditional name for the Country where Darwin sits, will take place at Darwin Entertainment Centre (DEC) and will see headlining talent in Electric Fields.

The multi-award-winning band welds together the voice of Zaachariaha Fielding and producer Michael Ross.

“We love performing up here! And we have friends who live up here, so we feel like we’re a part of the community,” said the duo.

“It’s such an honour [to be part of Garrmalang]! We can’t wait to perform and also to see the other stunning art being presented.”

After moving through COVID-19, the duo is excited to be back performing live.

“There is absolutely no substitute for the live feedback loop of energy between the audience and musicians on stage … we can’t wait to be a part of that again.”

“We’ve been working on a bunch of collaborations with some exciting new talent and commissions for some major events.

“One of these is composing the music in collaboration with the Martumili community for the lighting of the sails of the Sydney Opera House for Vivid 2021.”

Garrmalang will spill out from the DEC and onto Darwin’s iconic forecourt which will host food and drink stalls along with a pop-up store from social enterprise fashion brand, House of Darwin.

The event will begin on Saturday with Darriba Narri Minanggurrgwa Yabarrag, Elders Morning Tea. At 7pm a Welcome to Country will kick off the live entertainment and afterwards the Garrmalang Festival Club will be open for those over 18 wanting to hear the Territory’s deadliest DJs.

Saturday will also see the Numanggwa-Gum | Blak Talk panel discussions, the first panel sitting will discuss First Nations youth and future leaders and the second talks to Treaty and issues facing First Nations communities nationally.

Through Daranigi Damara | Through Our Eyes, a photo exhibition from First Nations photographers, will also be on display at the festival. Curated by Garrmalang co-creative director Nina Fitzgerald, the exhibition captures the Northern Territory through the eyes of First Peoples.

On Sunday evening, the Guligi Numanggwa | Big Blak Dot Comedy Spectacular will bring together some of the country’s best Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stand-up comedians.

“After what was quite a challenging year last year, we are so thrilled to be able to bring Garrmalang Festival back as a live event for everyone to enjoy,” said Ben Graetz, Garrmalang co-creative director.

“With something for everyone, Garrmalang showcases the very best Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and performers the Northern Territory and Australia has to offer. This festival also shows that as First Peoples of this country, we are a surviving, thriving and an extraordinarily diverse group of people.”

The Territory’s Minister for Major Events Natasha Fyles said the NT Government is proud to support the festival.

“This event provides development opportunities for Aboriginal Territorians, and sees them perform alongside world-class acts such as Electric Fields,” she said.

“It’s also an opportunity for audiences to listen and learn more about the thousands of years of culture that surround us.”

By Rachael Knowles