Every January for three decades, Midsumma Festival has transformed Melbourne into a spectacular explosion of colour and culture, celebrating the diversity, resilience and talent bursting from within its LGBTIQA+ communities.

Midsumma Festival cultivates queer perspectives and creates experiences that flip the status quo – all made possible through the annual open access Festival program. Three fabulous weeks of culture will be punctuated by no less than three signature free outdoor events.

Midsumma Carnival kicks off the first weekend, Midsumma Pride March solidifies the solidarity mid-weekend, and for the first time, a new-art party Midsumma Horizon, promises a finishing weekend not to forget at Testing Grounds tucked away in Melbourne’s arts precinct near Southbank.

High-octane theatre, burlesque to brusque cabaret, music, dance, film, talks, sports, Hubs and social events – the program comprises more than 130 events created, installed or performed by over 1200 culture-makers, in more than 70 venues and outdoor spaces in 2017.

The robust 2017 visual arts program once again includes the Midsumma Australia Post Art Prize. There is plenty of pure entertainment on offer, a myriad of events designed to push and provoke, as well as a broad range of social, free and/or family events.

“From small beginnings as GayDay in the 80s, Midsumma Festival has evolved into a highlight of the Melbourne arts and cultural scene,” said Midsumma Chair, John Caldwell. “In 2017 we aim to provide a stronger platform for all of Melbourne’s queer communities to have a voice, and to celebrate that expression together.”

Midsumma will help you navigate your Festival with a great list of signature, premier and featured events happening right across Melbourne and surrounds. Or choose from the series’ of events to be staged at Midsumma Hub venues: the iconic Arts Centre Melbourne; brazen, bright-spark space Gasworks; and LGBTQIA+ favourite, The Hare Hole at Hares & Hyenas. The adventurous should just dive right in, to create a summer plan from the magnificent range of open access events.

Internationally regarded street artist, Vexta breathes life into the vibrant new artwork, Love is Love – The Seahorses for the 2017 Midsumma Festival Guide. “Seahorses are known for their mating dance: a celebration of love and connections,” says Vexta. “With their unique beauty and unparalleled gender fluidity in the animal kingdom, they represent free love in a complicated world.”

Printed festival guides are now available from a network of cafes, cultural hotspots and venues, as well as online. Tickets to paid performances have been specifically set to be as accessible and inclusive as possible, and are now on sale.

The 2017 Midsumma Festival runs 15 January to 5 February. For more information, visit: www.midsumma.org.au for details.

Image: Midsumma Pride March (supplied)