While Midsumma Festival takes over Melbourne’s queer landscape for three weeks, Carnival is the event that kicks it all off. And this year, it’s back in the Alexandra Gardens, after a couple of years across the river at Birrarung Marr. Midsumma’s Festival Manager, Monique Thorpe, is pretty excited by that. “It’s a nicer, more aesthetically pleasing space, and so many of us have fond memories of it there, so returning to Alexandra Gardens is a natural fit, and everyone is a lot happier about it,” she says. “You can sit on the grass, and the whole site is in eyeshot.”
There’ll be over 130 stalls, live entertainment showcasing Midsumma shows on two stages, the Main Stage and the VAC Community Stage, the popular and traditional dog show, and a new Sporting Precinct. “It’s the first time we’ve had this, it’s called the BeyondBlue Sporting Precinct, run in conjunction with Team Melbourne, and it’s going to be an interactive sports demonstration place to get the energy levels up, make it a little less watching, and a little more to do. And it’s also in line with our push towards a healthy lifestyle for the queer community.”
Carnival is the one day that the whole queer community comes together, and Thorpe loves that. “We tend to live our lives in little segregated area, and Carnival is the one day that everybody celebrates the fact that we are one big family. It’s about coming together, all in a lovely atmosphere. It’s nice to be in the City Of Melbourne and feel that security. And it’s the reason I work for Midsumma; I fell in love with Carnival the first time I went.”
Once the Carnival is over, T-Dance continues the frivolity well into the night from 6pm, and it’s a free event this year. “There’ll be a local line-up of live acts to celebrate the diversity of talent, and it will also be encouraging people to continue to frequent queer establishments, so we’ll be using DJs from these venues. It’s a way of keeping the queer scene, and the event alive, and we’re making it more inclusive. So we’ve stripped it right back, and made it free.”
Top 5 Essential Carnival Accessories
Carnival is all about having a fun day being seen, and seeing other people, so it’s a good idea to be well prepared for the day. Here are five Carnival essentials.
Yes, it may sound obvious, but if you’re planning on spending a whole day outside in the middle of a Melbourne summer, you need to protect your skin. Lobster Red is not a fashionable or safe colour to wear.
While there will be food stalls around the Gardens, there’s something much more stylish and civilised about taking your own rug and picnic hamper filled with tasty snacky bits, sandwiches and other treats, or buy a disposable picnic pack there. Set up under the palm trees as a central meeting spot for your friends, and make new friends while you’re at it.
A good picnic needs a good bottle of wine or two… or three as you recline in the shade enjoying everything around you. It also means you don’t have to worry about fighting through the crowds to get to the bar areas. Rochford Wines with picnic wine glasses will be available to buy at Carnival too.
Again, a must-have for a day out in the sun, but put a bit more thought into it, and leave the baseball cap at home. There are much more stylish summer hat options available these days. And you do want to look your best.
A Sexy Ensemble
While you are putting yourself out there, make sure that you choose comfortable but stylish clothes to wear. Singlets, shorts and frocks should be classy and sexy, but not cheap or slutty. That means no Bintang singlets and no Stubbies. Heels are not recommended either.