The Festival That Changed Everything

For over two decades Townsville Cultural Festival has offered a platform for expression and a safe space for sharing culture, creativity and knowledge. The festival has facilitated new and extraordinary experiences for hundreds of thousands of people in its 22 years, and we have no intention of resting on our laurels.


From local performers and musicians, to community and cultural groups, from early career artists to glorious rising stars of the Australian music scene, the event has from its inception been about offering a stage and a loving audience to those wishing to share their culture, their art, their music, their dance, their voice, no matter how large or small their profile.


It’s astounding the number of dancers, musicians, and performers who were given their very first festival spot at Townsville Cultural Festival. The number of local acts, buskers, and garage bands who had their first ever appearance in front of an audience of 1000 or even 10,000 people, the creative and social capital that this event has created for the region, the number of careers it has spurred, the sheer number of performers young and old who were accepted, supported and honoured through those nervous first moments in front of such immense crowds; it is these things that matter to us.


It’s these things that spur the event team on to dedicate so much of their time, their energy and their life to this event. It’s seeing the faces of performers as they hear the applause of a few thousand people, it’s seeing buskers who we hand-picked from outside the Flinders Street night clubs and put on main stage, going on to book international tours and sell out shows at Adelaide and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals, it’s seeing children and teenagers who were made to feel ashamed of their difference, their ‘ethnicity’ or culture, stepping up onto a stage with their families, proud as punch, to showcase to the world the beauty and glory of each of their cultures.


People often ask why we do this, year in / year out, despite the challenges faced by so many festivals around the country, despite the lack of support from local or federal government, considering the number of hours required of us, the sleepless nights and thankless days, irrespective of what obstacles have been put in our path, we keep on keeping on. Why?


Not only does the event continue to exist, it continues to grow, it continues to develop the depth of its line-up, the quality of its production, the details of the set and site design. The event continues to push the boundaries of what is possible with a meagre $15 ticket price. How and why do we do this?  


The answer is simple: love. 

Our love for what we do, our love for justice and equal opportunity, our love for humanity; our love for you. Each and every individual who has ever attended the event, stepped onto our stage or shared their arts, crafts and wares, every child who has ever been awestruck by an act or inspired by a piece of music, every workshop attendee who has accepted the call to action and learnt something new, every person who has had their heart opened or their mind altered by this event; we do what we do out of our love for you.


And when your WHY is strong enough, nothing on Earth can stop you from achieving what you want to achieve. It’s never the ‘what’ nor the ‘how’ nor the ‘when’ nor the ‘who’, that matters, it’s always the WHY.


It is no secret that this event has changed the face of this city and this region. The number of performers who have been inspired to make a career from their art form, the tourism generated, the number of friendships and connections made, the funds that local cultural and artistic groups have been able to raise for their groups, from the Mundingburra-Pimlico Scouts and the Food Rescue Initiative, to local businesses and community fundraising food stalls, the boundaries that have been torn down, the misconceptions that have been addressed and the sense of fellowship and unity that this event has created is something that will reverberate through the region for decades to come.


No other single initiative in the North Queensland region can claim to have had such an immense impact on the region. This is what inspires, motivates and powers us. We spend 12 months preparing for those famous 5 days in August, and in every moment, on every one of those days, we remind ourselves of why we do what we do, and it’s that thought that carries us through.

This year, we have poured everything we have into the event, every ounce of energy we could muster up, every waking minute of the day we have dedicated to you, because we want your experience to be as perfect and as beautiful and as awe-inspiring as possible.


We have moved to a larger and more suitable venue at James Cook University, we have booked more local acts than we ever have, we have more performance, entertainment and co-creation spaces than ever before, we have drawn acts from almost every state in the country and from as far off as Europe, the UK and the Middle East, we have included a full-time workshop and lecture space, we’ve booked everything from circus and theatre, to burlesque, drag and traditional dancers, DJ’s, folk music, drum circles, fire shows, interactive art mazes, and a full scale festival game that will run for the duration of the event.


Why? Because we love you.


We look forward to sharing another glorious week with you from Wednesday 17th – Sunday 21st of August at James Cook University, and would like to thank each and every one of you and all of the staff, volunteers, contractors, media partners, and performers who make this event possible. See you at Cultural Fest.