Hot festival

• Lucy Peach (performer), Ofa Fotu (Karla-k Koorling co-producer), Destry Puia (Fremantle council arts manager), Karla Hart (Wardarnji coordinator).

THIS year’s Fremantle Festival will literally set the city on fire, with events centered around fire-pits on Bathers Beach and at Fremantle Art Centre.

The historic festival has been cut to three days over two weekends, and from next year it will be held in the depths of winter, but Freo mayor Brad Pettitt says the changes will make the event punchier and more memorable.

“This is a taste of what’s to come – a 10-day immersive experience of wild art and hidden treasures,” he says.

“Intimate spaces, port history and cosy corners make Fremantle an ideal place for a winter festival.

“As our city continues to evolve, we thought it was time to offer the people of Fremantle and beyond something that’s unique.”

Karla-k Koorling, Come to the Fire (November 3) is a celebration of community as people gather around fires at the Maritime Tafe car park on Fleet Street for singing, storytelling, puppetry and dance.

“Each spot is designed with a different experience taking place,” says Destry Puia, the city’s new arts and culture manager.

He’s been in the job 10 weeks and previously worked as a creative infrastructure lead at Melbourne council.

“A very Melbourne title,” he says wryly.

The streamlined festival was organised before Mr Puia arrived, but he reckons it was time for a fresh approach as the event has been held for the last 113 years.

He says he’ll be going down to Bathers Beach to check out the Kraken, a firey performance based on the Blazing Swan Festival, which is held in Kulin in the wheatbelt every year.

On Friday October 26, Wardarnji will showcase local Nyoongar culture with song, dance and storytelling as fires burn long into the evening at the Fremantle Art Centre.

And fireworks will celebrate the port city’s fishing heritage when the annual Blessing of the Fleet takes place on Sunday October 28.  

by JENNY D’ANGER

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