That’s a wrap on Creative October

02 November 2023

A huge month of creative events has drawn to a close, with thousands of Victorians and visitors taking part in an action-packed season of creative festivals.

man in blue jacket singing into a microphone in front of a wall of records
The Eighty-Six Festival, Super Saturday. Image: Maclay Heriot

Throughout October there was a creative festival or event to enjoy every single day of the month. We celebrated independent arts, digital games, fashion, jazz, photography, craft and plenty of live music, exhibitions and theatre.

Creative October’s massive line-up not only provided Victorians of all ages with plenty of entertainment, these events employed thousands of local artists, performers and creative workers, brought visitors to the city and regions, stimulated local businesses and brought communities together.

Creative October kicked off with Melbourne International Games Week presenting its biggest ever program of more than 70 events.

This included the first-ever Big Games Night Out, a free public event at Fed Square which attracted 6,000 people of all ages and from all walks of life who gathered, played games, paraded in cosplay, and danced in what was a games wonderland from twilight until late into the night.

Over at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, the 10th anniversary edition of PAX Aus capped off Games Week and proved to be the biggest yet with more than 82,000 games fans attending.

The Wheeler Centre’s Spring Fling program of talks and performances saw 4,000 people attend 24 events, featuring more than 80 local and international writers, thinkers and speakers.

Melbourne Fringe delivered a record-breaking program of 461 events and more than 3000 performances at 148 venues. This year’s Fringe showcased more than 2600 artists and took over the CBD, Melbourne’s west and beyond.

Melbourne Fashion Week kicked off with an innovative event that brought Melbourne’s fashion and artistic community together. Fashion X Theatre paired local designers with performers and creatives working in theatre, spoken word and music including performers from Moulin Rouge! The Musical (the return season of which wowed audiences throughout the month)

Melbourne International Jazz Festival also staged its biggest ever event, with 53,000 people attending 140 performances and events. This year’s program shone a light on 565 artists from 17 countries.. This included the hugely successful Jazz at the Bowl event, featuring international superstars Chaka Khan and Nile Rogers & CHIC performing for almost 10,000 music lovers, supported by local acts Kaiit, Horns of Leroy and Mz Rizk.

Creative October also celebrated Victoria’s incredible grass roots live music scene with the first ever Eighty-Six festival, along the 86 tram line in Melbourne’s northern suburbs – across Northcote, Thornbury, Preston and Reservoir.

The festival’s marquee event, Super Saturday, saw more than 220 acts perform at more than 60 venues – including on a tram – all free of charge. Thousands of people of all ages attended this unique celebration of our live music culture.

Live music was also celebrated in regional Victoria with the sold-out Sound Tracks. The team from Ok Motels! took hundreds of music fans on a vintage steam train from Melbourne to Charlton for a music experience like no other.

Delivered by Music Victoria on behalf of the Victorian Government, the Live Music for Flood Recovery program presented 11 events in October in flood impacted communities across the state, including Rochella, at Rochester, which attracted more than 1500 people.

Almost 300 of these tickets were donated through the ‘Shout A Local’ campaign which saw people from across the state, and beyond, donate $10 to sponsor a free ticket for a local community member.

The Ballarat International Foto Biennale, which wrapped its two-month exhibition in late October, attracted more than 30,000 people and Craft Contemporary held more than 150 events across the state.

Capping off the month was the 2023 Music Victoria awards, which honour and celebrate our state’s incredible music industry. Cash Savage and the Last Drinks took out the Best Album award, while Jen Cloher won Best Solo Artist and Julia Jacklin won Best Song.

While Creative October is over, there’s plenty more to look forward to in November and over the summer months, including the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues’ Last Hurrah, Melbourne Queer Film Festival and the opening of ACMI’s major summer exhibition Marshmallow Laser Feast: Works of Nature.

December will mark the start of the NGV Triennial, a major, free exhibition of contemporary art and design which will take over NGV International from 3 December, while Melbourne Museum will welcome Titanic: The Artefact Exhibition, the most extensive and authentic Titanic exhibition in the world, opening on 16 December.