Jonathan Holloway’s first Festival program as Artistic Director will encompass artists from around the world who have been invited to rediscover the city, in what he describes as his “love letter to Melbourne.”

The Festival celebrated 18 days of what’s to come on Wednesday night with Tanderrum, the now-traditional opening welcome from the five clans of the Kulin nation.

For the opening last night, a crowd of thousands took to the CBD streets to see the Festival get off to a fiery start with the major, free, outdoor spectacle of pyrotechnics and percussion from one of the world’s most renowned street theatre companies Basque company, Deabru Beltzak’s exclusive performance of Les Tambours de Feu. Running for three nights until Saturday, the dizzy parade brought Federation Square and laneways to a standstill.

Opening celebrations carried on elsewhere with a huge line-up of world-class performances, from an astonishing production for just one person at a time, The Echo of the Shadow from Barcelona’s Teatro de los Sentidos; to a darkly humorous record-breaking show in Mandarin, Two Dogs from National Theatre of China; plus musical theatre with a twist from the National Theatre of Scotland with Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour; circus and dance collided in Triptyque from Montreal’s Les 7 Doigts de la Main; one of New York’s most talked about choreographers, Faye Driscoll’s Thank You for Coming; memorable conversations were had in Prahran Town Hall with The Money from UK’s Kaleider; and an Australian show for families You and Me and the Space Between from Terrapin Puppet Theatre.

The Melbourne Festival takes place from 6-23 October 2016. / #melbfest