Artists and art-lovers alike descended upon Melbourne’s regal Regent Theatre tonight for the  Festival’s official opening night featuring the Australian premiere performance of After Life, the universally acclaimed and utterly exceptional cross-genre masterwork from Michel van der Aa, followed by a lively after party in the Plaza Ballroom; but not before the subversive and political Santiago Sierra got hundreds of Melburnians fired up on the ACCA Forecourt last night to complete the final destruction of his global art phenomenon DESTROYED WORD, a project spanning two years, ten countries and numerous demolitions.

Early openings this week included Force Majeure’s Never Did Me Any Harm, a distinctly humorous collision of dance and theatre from one of our nation’s most compelling and innovative dance theatre companies; I don’t believe in outer space, the unmissable event for anyone with an interest in the past, present or future of contemporary dance from legendary choreographer William Forsythe; Fault Lines, a remarkable international collaboration between China, Australia and New Zealand, choreographed by Christchurch born Sara Brodie and China’s renowned Leshan Song & Dance Troupe; and one-woman tour de force Nilaja Sun was welcomed to Melbourne with an impromptu standing ovation for her powerhouse performance in No Child.

The godfather of contemporary photographic art Gregory Crewdson made a guest appearance at the private viewing of his exclusive to Melbourne exhibition, In a Lonely Place on Tuesday night to talk about the special retrospect which sees him bring together three renowned bodies of work – exemplifying his  elaborately staged, hyper‐real photographs that have become iconic investigations of the anxieties underpinning the everyday; whilst hundreds turned out for the in conversation at the Festival Hub this afternoon, the first event on the Hub calendar.

The highly anticipated Foxtel Festival Hub opened its doors to the adoring public for the first of 17 days of delirious fun tonight for what is going to be an ever-changing party each night on The banks of the Yarra. The vibe was electric from the get-go as pop songstress Sophia Brous made her long awaited return home with a mesmerising set crowned by her powerhouse voice; whilst Los Angeles DJ and celeb fashionista Rashida brought an exclusive edge to the night.

The Festival is opening with strong ticket sales, with a number of shows already sold out including An Evening with Billy Bragg, Billy Bragg Celebrates Woody Guthrie, Bermuda Float, How High the Sky, Hold, Impasse, Pierrot Lunaire, Shellac, Swanlights (Antony and the Johnsons), THEESatisfaction, Big Freedia & the Divas and The Minotaur Trilogy. Festival goers are urged to buy quickly for fast selling shows including An Enemy of the People, Before Your Very Eyes, Cynical Ballads, DESH, Freeway‐The Chet Baker Journey, Lanie Lane and more, see for the most up to date details.

More shows taking place over the weekend include Conversations with Ghosts, Capsis October Show, Blood and Bone by Antony Hamilton, The Renovators, La Soiree, Membra Jesu Nostri, Orlando; and arriving at the Festival next week is DESH, a mesmerising one-man show from dance phenomenon Akram Khan; grobak Padi, a multimedia fusion of food, film and dance, this delicious cross‐cultural performance is a little piece of Java manifested in the heart of Melbourne; and New York’s Sxip Shirey makes his Australian debut with extended possibilities of found sounds, human beat boxing and a curious array of instrumentation.

In a program featuring 77 events, 18 world premieres, 34 Australian premieres, 207 performances, 33 film screenings, 1013 artists, 414 international artists and 599 local artists, Artistic Director Brett Sheehy presents his fourth and final, no holds barred Festival on a scale this city has never seen before.