After 12 months of unnerving quiet, Melbourne is dusting itself off, creaking the doors back open, and today the program for the big new winter festival, RISING, has landed. Featuring events like a full-nude disco club, multi-level choose-your-own-adventure theatre, live gigs from Aussie and NZ artists, and an ice rink in Sidney Myer Music Bowl, the new festival features and celebrates over 750 Victorian artists across 12 nights at the start of winter.

Taking on the space that Melbourne’s White Night and Melbourne International Arts Festival once occupied, RISING is going to take over and transform the city and surrounds from the evening of the lunar eclipse on May 26th until June 6.

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Obviously, there’s a real smorgasbord of things happening across the 12 nights of the festival, but a select few have caught my eye and I’m already checking my calendar to see how much I can squeeze in.

The Rivers Sing is on at the dusk and dawn of each night – essentially bookending each night of RISING – where First Nations voices will echo across the city and the Yarra from Birrarung Marr, in a huge sonic artwork from Deborah Cheetham AO.

Speaking of music, special, one-off live gigs are set to hit the Comedy Theatre across the festival. Meredith Music Festival and Golden Plains legend Woody McDonald is the festival’s music curator, and has lined up shows from Julia JacklinMarlon Williams, Connan Mockasin, and more will hit the theatre, while Augie March will perform their classic album Sunset Sounds at Melbourne Recital Hall.

Over at Max Watts – which is set to be the musical hub for the festival – Yorta Yorta/DjaDja Wurrung/Ngurai Illum Wurrung hip-hop artist and staunch advocate for change, DRMNGNOW is teaming up with Gamilaroi MC Kobie Dee and Kenyan-born MC Pookie for a very special full-band performance, among heaps of other shows throughout RISING.

The city will also play host to walls and stacks of speaker booming out bass-heavy dub, drum & bass, techno, hip-hop and more for Heavy Congress, or you can literally go and lie in a warm sound bath on the Yarra’s only island for a 2am mineral bath and aural soak with Flow State.

Sidney Myer Music Bowl is set to transform into a labyrinth of mirrors, large-scale sculpture, and illuminated works as part of The Wilds, and the Bowl itself is being taken back to its old winter traditions by being converted into a big ice skating rink for the festival so you can rug up and go for a glide on one of Melbourne’s most iconic music venues.

It’s the complete opposite at Club Purple over at the Queen Victoria Women’s Trust Club though, where an “alcohol-free naturist disco and non-sexual shedding of inhibitions” is on the cards with a big nudie boogie is happening from Aussie artist Stuart Ringholt. Think the Meredith Gift or Dark Mofo’s Solstice Swim, but it’s half an hour writhing around in the nud in the Chinatown precinct. You can go it alone or take some mates and just go absolutely boonta for 30 mins sans-dacks.

This is literally barely scratching the surface, too. There are shitloads of food, theatre, performances, music, art, culture, installations, and just about everything Melbourne’s been aching for over the last 12 months coming, so wrangle your mates and figure out how you wanna dive into the depths of the winter nights.

Tickets for all the events across RISING Festival are on sale from the website from 9am on March 31, with a presale also happening on March 29.

Image: RISING / Wandering Stars / The Lantern Company