If you’ve ever wanted to juggle rubber chickens, walk a tightrope or swing dance then Viva la Gong 2013 provides the perfect opportunity.
There’s always plenty to see at the region’s premier cultural festival, but this year organisers are encouraging participants to not only watch but take part too.
Wollongong City Council cultural development co-ordinator Megan McKell said as well as a wide range of performances, the November 9 festival at Wollongong’s MacCabe Park offered plenty of hands-on activities.
‘‘Viva la Gong is an arts and cultural festival where we get to see what our community has to offer, where we can celebrate our diversity and our uniqueness,’’ she said.
‘‘We can see homegrown, national and international musical performances; we can see artists and artisans at work and we can be entertained by roaming artists and surprise performances.
‘‘We also want community members to have a real cultural experience and maybe try something new and that’s why we have a creative hub that’s dedicated to people trying things out such as stilt walking, musical instrument making or lantern painting.’’
Ms McKell said there had been a ‘‘dramatic increase’’ in community interest in the festival in recent years, with crowd numbers growing from 4000 in 2009 to around 25,000 in 2012, and a similar number is expected this year.
‘‘Viva is now in its 12th year and I think we’ve now really got the format right,’’ she said.
‘‘In previous years we concentrated in bringing in a lot of big performers from outside the area, but in the last few years we have just had a few international or national performers and the rest of the performers have been homegrown.’’
Illawarra artists featured in the 2013 line-up include The Merchants, Justin Frew and the Steel City Muthafunkas while Triple J unearthed artists Ngaiire, Steve Smyth and Kira Puru & the Bruise are travelling to the city to put on a show.
Circus fun also returns to Viva in 2013 with performances from Circus Monoxide and Circus Wow, and in the La Petite Grand circus tent there’ll be a range of acts by performers including The Great Heidini.
The street parade is back this year and will kick things off at 11am at the city’s arts precinct before winding its way up Crown Street Mall, down Globe Lane and into MacCabe Park.
Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said this year’s program had something to suit everyone.
‘‘That’s what I love about this day. It’s open to everyone and is all about getting involved in our city’s diverse culture, discovering something new or getting out of your comfort zone and finding a new hobby or passion,’’ he said.
A range of activities and events will be occurring in conjunction with the festival, ranging from art exhibitions to music and theatre performances.
Pick up a copy of this year’s program at council’s administration building, contact 42277111 or visit vivalagongfestival.org or Viva la Gong’s Facebook page.