Melbourne Festival is set to launch with over 70 events and activities, including contemporary and classical music, dance, theatre, visual arts, film, forums, conversations and encounters. Occupying some of the city’s most iconic buildings and sites.

Commencing on Friday 11 October with Tanderrum, a Welcome to Country directed by Rachel Maza from Ilbijerri Theatre, plus a free concert featuring Archie Roach, and continuing for 17 days, program highlights include Gurrumul accompanied by an orchestra at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl; a dedicated Kids Weekend for children and families using spaces in and around Fed Square, featuring Melbourne’s Polyglot Theatre with Trailblazer and The Listies with Earworms; and a weekend of Brahms vs Wagner and Haydn For Everyone, featuring the MSO, Flinders Quartet, Shanghai Quartet, Sir Nicholas Kenyon, Richard Tognetti, and Asher Fisch.

This is Melbourne Festival Creative Director, Josephine Ridge’s first Festival program and she is extremely proud of the wealth, talent and diversity of the festival on offer for Melburnians. "Melbourne Festival at its heart is a celebration of this city," says Ridge. " With this Festival program, we wanted to really explore the city and see it through different eyes; to appreciate the depth of its creative history and how this is woven into the fabric of the urban landscape."

“If the Festival can be seen as a room with many doors, then our hope is that audiences enter through one, but once inside they discover a wealth of extraordinary experiences.”

In the film program, the Festival presents a John Landis Retrospective, with Landis himself in attendance to introduce many of the screenings. Spanning such cinematic touchstones as The Blues Brothers, An American Werewolf in London and Michael Jackson’s Thriller video, Landis’s outlandishly entertaining films defined the feel of an era.

Director Michael Kantor’s film debut, The Boy Castaways also features in the program, starring Tim Rogers, Paul Capsis and Megan Washington – coupled with a live concert (Songs of Wreck and Ruin) performed by the film’s cast.

Highlights of the theatre program include Nature Theater of Oklahoma’s epic masterpiece Life and Times: Episode 1-4 (seen in separate parts or as a 10 hour marathon complete with ice-cream); contemporary issues speak loud and clear in The Shadow King, an unmissable Indigenous adaptation of King Lear – a co-commission with Malthouse Theatre; and Belarus Free Theatre, an inspiring theatre company making its Melbourne debut with Minsk, 2011: A Reply to Kathy Acker.

One of Britain's most exciting touring theatre companies, Kneehigh Theatre's adaptation of Noël Coward's classic romantic drama Brief Encounter, will perform nightly at the Athenaeum Theatre. The Festival hosts the Australian premiere of Ontroerend Goerd’s Teenage Riot and All That Is Wrong – parts two and three of the trilogy that began with Once And For All We’re Going to Tell You What we think so Shut Up and Listen.

And we’re excited to be working with local, independent companies to co-present with Theatre Works the world premieres of The Rabble’s Room of Regret (a reimagining of Dorian Gray) and Daniel Schlusser Ensemble’s M+M (inspired by The Master and Margarita). The Festival will also host the world premiere of Eddie Perfect’s The Beast with MTC.

In contemporary dance, two events feature one of the world’s most admired ballet dancers, Sylvie Guillem. 6000 miles away is a triple bill described as ‘a love letter to Sylvie’ by choreographers William Forsythe, Mats Ek and Jirí Kylián, and the Melbourne exclusive event PUSH, stars Sylvie and choreographer/dancer Russell Maliphant.

Melbourne favourite, Israeli-UK choreographer, Hofesh Schechter holds the world premiere of his new work, Sun at the Festival, and award-winning local choreographer, Stephanie Lake has another dance world premiere with A Small Prometheus at Arts House.

In the visual arts program, Disarm by Mexican artist Pedro Reyes uses parts from thousands of guns confiscated by the Mexican government in the war on drugs, to fashion an ensemble of 47 ingenious instruments. Melbourne Festival has also invited our city’s diverse and talented musicians to improvise live as part of the exhibition.

Multi-award winning US photographer Wendy Ewald’s work will be seen for the first time in Australia – an astounding suite of photographs depicting far-flung communities around the world. Tacita Dean’s FILM at ACCA is a sumptuous, mesmerising reflection on the physical artistry of filmmaking.

Living Architectures is series of seven films by Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine, examining great works of contemporary architecture – from Rem Koolhaas's Bordeaux villa to Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. The Films of Wang Bing is a suite of works from a revolutionary filmmaker: a man whose epic works define the political courage, tenacity and artistic sophistication of a new breed of Chinese artists.

French artist, Cyprien Gaillard’s Artefacts is a poignant study on the myth of Babylon, explored in a montage of fleeting scenes from post-conflict Iraq. Renowned global design critic Alice Rawsthorn presents an illuminating talk on the pervasive power of design at RMIT Design Hub. Melbourne artist Royce Ng presents a remarkable chronicle of The Somali Peace Band, a musical collaboration that reaches across the Indian Ocean, bridging continents and cultures.

Along with the Brahms versus Wagner and Haydn for Everyone curated events, the classical music program includes piano prodigies, Katia and Marielle Labeque, plus the world premiere of Bruchlandung, a bold and experimental post-apocalyptic chamber opera project by wild child sonic artist/composer James Hullick.

The Crowd is an astounding concert by the Australian Chamber Orchestra, led by Artistic Director, Richard Tognetti, and featuring breath-taking footage by cinematographer Jon Frank. Musical prodigy Ben Walsh presents an exhilarating musical and cinematic celebration of a silent-era goddess – the Australian-born star of Indian cinema known as Fearless Nadia (also playing the Riverside Theatre Parramatta in October)

In the contemporary music program, legendary song man Archie Roach performs a very special show Into the Bloodstream; New Jersey’s untouchable three piece, Yo La Tengo perform an exclusive Australian show in the acoustic rapture of Hamer Hall; blind Malian husband-and-wife duo Amadou & Mariam perform Eclipse at Melbourne Recital Centre, staged entirely in the dark; The Cinematic Orchestra brings their impeccably constructed, grandiose jazz-electronica hybrid to Hamer Hall.

Ireland’s legendary folk heroes, Clannad return to Australian shores; hailed as the new saviour of soul, Active Child, the cerebral pop project of Los Angeles native Pat Grossi performs at Melbourne Recital Centre; Albuquerque duo Brett and Rennie Sparks have won adoration as The Handsome Family and appear at the Hi-Fi with Ireland’s soulful crooner Foy Vance.

After a hugely successful debut in 2012, the Foxtel Festival Hub returns to the banks of the Yarra as a new, custom-designed bar, club and hub – a performance space and festive destination. The Hub music program features The Polyphonic Spree, part euphoric church choir, part Day-Glo rock musical supergroup, over three nights; Steve Mason (lead singer of The Beta Band) makes his Australian debut; Icelandic multi-instrumentalist Ólafur Arnalds also tours Australia for the first time; two acclaimed musicians who share an abiding love of the melancholy sounds of neo-country take to the stage for An Evening with Caitlin Rose and Henry Wagons. Cody ChesnuTT returns to Australia for the first time since 2006, backed by a blistering ten-piece band; and a celebration of three golden eras of local ska featuring ska pioneers The Caribs, 80s mainstays Strange Tenants and The Ska Vendors.

Other artists featured are 2011 Triple J Unearthed winners Husky, versatile Aussie indie electro DJ duo, Flight Facilities, controversial Brooklyn-based sister duo Prince Rama, mercurial Melbourne-based soulsters Hiatus Kaiyote, defiantly joyous, Bristol electronic two-piece Fuck Buttons, charismatic Chilean reggae roots veteran Quique Neira, and Dexter, of The Avalanches and Grrilla Step Collective fame.

2013 Melbourne Festival runs from 11 – 27 October, with tickets going on sale on Friday 16 August. See for details.