Dive into art and culture at Upstream Festival

Words by Penny Cordner 
Images supplied

Four days, two cities, one festival. Immerse yourself in some of the best local and national art and cultural experiences this March at Albury-Wodonga’s ‘Upstream – Festival of Art + Culture’ (March 6-9). 

This family-friendly festival is a celebration of collaboration and connection, with Wodonga Council and AlburyCity coming together to celebrate their shared diversity and creativity. With everything from jazz music and one-of-a-kind dance troupes to art installations and circus performers, these four days promise to surprise and delight at every turn.  

Wodonga Mayor Cr Anna Speedie is excited for the wider community to embrace all the festival has to offer.

“The great thing about this festival is that it is for everyone – families, art lovers, visitors, locals. Everyone will find something to enjoy,” says Speedie. 

The festival opens at Noreuil Park foreshore on Friday night (March 6). Catch a set from the energetic Shirazz Jazz Band, be awed by the twists and tumbles of the Flying Fruit Fly Circus and keep an eye out for the laser show along the banks of the Murray River. Take part in a giant game of chess, and then head to one of the food trucks or dessert stations to refuel. 

“Kicking off the festival on our beautiful foreshore with music, acrobatic feats, food trucks and an amazing laser show over the river will truly set the scene for the four days,” says Albury City Mayor Cr Kevin Mack.

Kicking off the festival on our beautiful foreshore with music, acrobatic feats, food trucks and an amazing laser show over the river will truly set the scene for the four days.

Another not-to-be-missed event is the family-friendly Messy Arty Party (Saturday 7 March). This action-packed session will tire kids of all ages. Join in the Colour Run – where you’ll be covered in a rainbow of chalk from head to toe as you complete various challenges, or keep cool at Water Works – a mobile water structure. Embrace your inner musician by signing up to make your very own percussion instruments, get creative and take part in Clay Play, or challenge someone at Waterbomb Volleyball. Whichever way you go, there is fun for the whole family. 

In the afternoon, head to the Cube Chill-out Session where you will enjoy a range of local performers including resident company PROJECTion Dance. There will also be complimentary nibbles, giant games and you can grab a drink at the pop-up bar.

In the evening, it’s all about the Upstream Street Party with many performances to choose from. Make sure you catch one of three shows from The Three Belles – a whirlwind of dance perched atop five-metre sway poles in Richardson Park (Saturday 5.15pm, 6.40pm and 8.05pm). 

Art-lovers should immerse themselves in the swirling droplets of Flow States – an installation inspired by the Murray River, which has been made from hundreds of droplets of tissue paper, or enter the Neon Forest and navigate through a kaleidoscope of treetops to uncover hidden objects. 

There’s even an eight-minute puppet experience, ‘Nightmare,’ which is performed inside a horse float to an audience of just eight.

Sunday, March 8 brings a Market of Curious Things, with beautiful handmade trinkets and keepsakes, as well as performances of Mexican and Latin American music and the local Murray Riverina Jazz Orchestra. 

“We have a fantastic arts and cultural industry here on the border and this will be a great opportunity for local and visitors alike to experience it all including our public art trails and galleries,” says Mack. 

The festival name is inspired by the natural landmark of the Murray River (the meeting point of the two cities) and the idea that to ‘go upstream’ is to go against the current, encouraging you to try new and unexpected experiences. 



WHAT: Upstream – Festival of Art + Culture
WHERE: Albury/Wodonga
WHEN: 6th – 9th March