The Melbourne International Arts Festival officially opened last night with a traditional welcome ceremony, TANDERRUM, which saw thousands of people flock to Federation Square in a celebration of the five clans of the Kulin nation. This morning the first of eight Art Trams hit the tracks wrapped in a beautiful design by Gunditjmara artist Hayley Millar-Baker.

Featuring a feast of the arts with sensational circus displays, thrilling theatre, the coolest in contemporary music, divine dance and special events filled with fire, theatrics and thousands of doors, the Melbourne International Arts Festival is now on.

From tonight, Festival-goers can experience 1000 DOORS, post-punk royalty THE THE, the Go-Betweens in 16 LOVERS LANE, Barry McGovern in Samuel Beckett’s WATT, Jimi Bani in MY NAME IS JIMI, FLIGHT based on Caroline Brothers’ novel Hinterland, Belarus Free Theatre’s TRUSTEES, NoFit State Circus’ LEXICON all in the first week.

Melbourne Festival Artistic Director, Jonathan Holloway said: ‘Last night was an incredible opening that celebrated Melbourne as an arts capital. I cannot wait to see Melbourne come alive with people enjoying the many Festival events taking place in some of the city’s favourite spaces and places.’

Next week, the sold-out FIRE GARDENS special event will run across four popular nights attracting thousands to the Royal Botanic Gardens, electronic artist NILS FRAHM arrives in to Melbourne for two performances, and Japanese sound artist Asuna performs in 100 KEYBOARDS. The Festival’s theatre program kicks into full gear with Mark Morris Dance Company’s LAYLA AND MAJNUN, Rawcus Theatre’s SONG FOR A WEARY THROAT, Future D.Fidel’s PRIZE FIGHTER and the intriguing virtual reality performance of FROGMAN all opening in the second week.

In the final week of the Festival, the curious will be encouraged to visit the final days of 1000 DOORS and LEXICON, William Forsythe’s A Quiet Evening of Dance will make its Australian premiere, Gabrielle Wang’s popular novel is recreated in A GHOST IN MY SUITCASE, lip-sync legend Dicky Beau arrives for RE-MEMBER ME, and electronic duo ALVA NOTO and RYUICHI SAKAMOTO call Melbourne their home for one night only.

Between 4-21 October audiences are invited to experience a spectacular line-up of dance, theatre, visual arts, contemporary and classical music, and a variety of free events including exhibitions by RONNIE VAN HOUT, STEVEN RHALL, ALICIA FRANKOVICH, LILI REYNAUD DEWAR, MIKE PARR, JOHN STEZAKER, TARRAWARRA BIENNIAL, EVA ROTHSCHILD, and POLLY BORLAND; music by Portuguese Fado singer ANA MOURA, Tan Dun conducting the MSO in BUDDHA PASSION, Los Angeles Master Chorale’s LAGRIME DI SAN PIETRO, Van Diemen’s Band in CELLO NAPOLETANO and so much more.

The Melbourne International Arts Festival is on until 21 October 2018. Tickets at // #melbfest