Travel

10 Perth Festival International Acts Worth Flying West For In 2024

By Maddie Wallman

There’s no better time to experience Perth’s magic than in summer. Endless blue skies, impossibly blue waters and squeaky white sands—we could go on, but we don’t need to make a case for the coast. It’s the endless cultural experiences, arts events and live music gigs happening in Western Australia's sundrenched city that we want to shine the light on. 

Each and every year, Perth ups the ante with new social shindigs and returning firm favourites, including the annual Perth Festival. From February 9 to March 3 2024, Australia’s longest-running arts festival will be bringing a jam-packed program spanning music, theatre, dance and film events to the west coast capital, with a slew of world-class international acts joining the scores of local talent putting on a show in Perth. 

So, clear your calendar, book that flight and prepare to end your summer with a bang on the shores of the Indian Ocean. Here are 10 Perth Festival acts that are not to be missed. 

Theatre and Dance

Jungle Book reimagined 

Without being dramatic, this one is a bare necessity. At once moving, entertaining and cautionary, celebrated international choreographer Akram Khan has taken Rudyard Kipling’s much-loved classic The Jungle Book and transformed it into a powerful contemporary dance-theatre piece complete with animations that will have you laughing, crying and learning. In Khan’s version, the story is told through the eyes of a refugee caught in a world devastated by the impact of climate change. After hitting the stage in Edinburgh, London and Toronto, it's now your chance to catch this awesome show for yourself from February 9-17.

Person standing on stage with black backdrop.

FOOD

This isn't your standard dinner and a show. For a beautifully absurd night to remember, secure your seat at the table of Geoff Sobelle’s FOOD, an intimate and immersive dinner party performance that asks the question: why do we eat what we eat? Ridiculous, crude and exceptionally funny, FOOD will be performed around a colossal dining table on the stage of His Majesty’s Theatre with the audience sitting on all sides. Rousing and multisensorial, the event will use smell, taste and touch to feed a meditation about the ways and whys of eating. It had the hardest tickets to get a hold of at the 2023 Edinburgh International Festival and we predict a similar situation in Perth this summer. Get in quick to experience this theatrical spectacle before the reservations are closed.

Are we not drawn onward to new erA

For a hint of what’s in store in this Ontroerend Goed masterpiece: read the title, and now read it backwards. The powerful performance, like its title, is told as a palindrome. Belgian’s pioneering theatre company tackle the very big and very relevant issue of climate change, asking the question of exactly what happens when we can no longer reverse the damage humanity has caused the Earth? Technically impressive, visually striking and emotionally moving, this ingenious eco-play highlights our universal eco-problem. Check it out in the Heath Ledger Theatre from February  21-25. 

Person performing on stage with smoke.

Music

Under The Same Sun 

Closing Perth Festival on March 2 is Under the Same Sun, a free concert which promises to be a joyous celebration to share with the people you love. Some of Australia’s top Aboriginal musicians will share the stage with local and international artists, singing songs of nature and nurture, mothers and the sun. There’ll be an appearance from African superstar Angélique Kidjo plus Australia’s very own Stephen Pigram, Emma Donovan, Paul Kelly, Flewnt and more. Backed by the West Australian Symphony Orchestra conducted by Festival Artistic Director Iain Grandage, this is going to be an incredible way to end a mighty month in Perth.

Sampha

Mercury Prize-winning British singer-songwriter and producer Sampha will hit the stage on Perth Festival's closing weekend showcasing his intoxicating blend of pop, R&B, soul, jazz and west African music. Having collaborated with a bunch of our favourite artists—think Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Solange and Frank Ocean—and hot off the release of his second album LAHAI, Sampha will bring the festival to a close in epic fashion on Sunday 3 March.

Musician on grey backdrop.

Sampa the Great with Kaiit

Zambian-born, Melbourne-based artist Sampa the Great is rap royalty.  Having burst onto the Australian music scene with her debut single FEMALE in 2015, the MC-singer-songwriter has been making waves ever since thanks to her turbo-charged beats that blend music, art and poetry. She’s opened shows for some of the world’s biggest stars including Kendrick Lamar, Thundercat and Billie Eilish, and is now teaming up with Melbourne-via-Papua New Guinea talent Kaiit for Perth Festival's closing weekend. Be sure to pack your dancing shoes, these two are guaranteed to get you moving on Friday 1 March.

The Rechabite Takeover

Northbridge's epic entertainment venue will be transformed into a three-week-long music hub during Perth Festival, bringing an epic lineup of gigs from household names to your future faves. Among the swathe of musicians from Australia and abroad are indie-rock artist Courtney Barnett, Norwegian indie-pop band Kings of Convenience, psychedelic RnB singer Greentea Peng and Zambia's biggest rock band WITCH. Keep your eyes peeled for more on Flewnt's Boorloo Block Party too, a popular celebration of First Nations hip hop music and culture. 

People dancing in theatre.

Ludovico Einaudi

You’ll likely already be familiar with the work of acclaimed Italian pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi from TikTok. Having started his career composing for the ballet in the '80s, Einaudi then went on to create multi-million-selling albums and, more recently, TikToks with views in the billions. His genre-defying music draws upon neo-classical, pop, ambient, rock and experimental styles, earning him fans across generations. Performing live at Perth Concert Hall on February 9 and 10, do not miss your chance to marvel at this globally loved classical composer. 

Keen to check out more fine music? Catch the world premiere of a Noongar opera in Wundig wer Wilura and an evening with Brooklyn Rider, a quartet from—you guessed it, Brooklyn, New York.

Angélique Kidjo

Performing during Perth Festival with Noongar band Maatakitj is Angélique Kidjo—proud Benin woman, five-time Grammy winner, and African music icon. Possessing an incredibly powerful voice and an unmatched energy, Kidjo—affectionately known as ‘Mama Africa’—radiates joy both on and off stage. She’s collaborated with some of the world’s biggest musical stars, and is bringing her powerhouse voice to Perth for one night only on February 29. 

Film

Lotterywest Films

Complete your trip to Perth with a balmy nighttime movie sesh and picnic. Running prior to the official festival with an early start date of November 20, Lotterywest Films will bring new and award-winning cinema from Cannes and Venice to one of the world’s best outdoor cinemas at UWA Somerville all summer long. BYO wine, pack a picnic and catch some of the familiar faces you love on screen—Julianne Moore, Natalie Portman, Michelle Williams and Mads Mikkelsen—under the stars, with a different film to see every week until March 31.

Editor’s note: this article was produced in partnership with Perth Festival. Thank you for supporting the partners who make Urban List possible. To read our editorial policy, click here.
 
Images: Perth Festival

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