Music, food, art and culture are all on the menu for the 2015 Surfers Paradise Festival which runs 3 – 18 April.
It’s the sixth annual Festival, run by Surfers Paradise Alliance and incorporates a bunch of significant events: the Australian Street Entertainment Championships, Shorts In Paradise Film Festival (SIPFest) and SeaFire – one of the country’s biggest and best fireworks challenges.
The Festival this year will run over four beachfront zones along the Surfers foreshore.
The Australian Street Entertainment Championships will run over the Easter long weekend and will see Australian and International street performers take to the streets to compete in delighting enthusiastic crowds.
Rhett Morrow is one of those competing in the championships. He’s 22 years old but he’s been busking since he was 12. He lives at Burleigh and says his shtick is part comedy, part juggling, part acrobatics.
“I get kids up and do handstands over them, flip over them,” he said. “It’s a bit slapstick.”
Many 22 year olds are still finding their feet when it comes to career and education, but Rhett works as a performer full-time and has been involved in circus ever since he was a kid. He’s even spent eight months in Beijing honing his craft.
“At the International Circus School in Beijing I worked with Chinese poles, pot juggling and acrobatics,” Rhett told me. I know from his bio that he first took to the stage when he was five – moving through dancing and gymnastics before settling on circus arts, but I’m curious how someone so young becomes so focussed on this style of performance.
“I was born in Adelaide and started circus classes and youth circus. Then when we moved uphere I tried other things and we found Flipside Circus. I started in their performance troupe but branched away and did birthday parties and then got along with some agents who gave me corporate events,” Rhett said.
And this was all while Rhett was at school. The Championships Rhett’s competing in see invited street performers battle it out for cash prizes. Music, dance, magic and comedy are on the menu, but there will also be youth, semi-professional and amateur performers.
It’s not Rhett’s first time competing. He and his sister have done this before, but he tells me she’s more focussed on aerial acrobatics now.
Rhett says events like this are important for career development. “We don’t know who’s out in the audience,” he said. “You’re basically spruiking yourself.”
“I have to say, with street performance, it’s good to test out new skills and new lines and patter and scripts. If you can make it good on the street, you can pretty much put it into theatre or a birthday party. Street is a really good foundation to practice your skills,” Rhett said.
The Australian Street Entertainment Championship is just one event on the program of activities for the Surfers Paradise Festival which runs 3 – 18 April. Taking place throughout the Surfers Paradise precinct, including the iconic foreshore, the Festival is expected to attract more than 135,000 people over two weeks and three weekends.
A full schedule of events for the 2015 Surfers Paradise Festival is available at surfersparadise.com.
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Friday 3 – 6 April: Australian Street Entertainment Championships will see street performers competing for cash prizes. There will be music, circus, acrobatics, juggling, dance, magic and more.
Thursday 9 – 18 April: Festival Pavilion serves up ten days of entertainment including comedy, dance, the Chefs of Surfers Paradise, theatre, fashion parades, acrobatics, kids’ shows and workshops. It’s located at the beach volleyball courts.
Sunday 12 April: Shorts in Paradise, or SIPFest as it’s otherwise known will showcase some of the most talented filmmakers in the country. Ten films of not more than ten minutes each will compete for cash prizes and submissions close Friday 17 March.
Saturday 18 April: Seafire will offer a night of hypnotic fire performance and fireworks about Surfers Paradise Beach with teams of Australia’s greatest pyrotechnicians going head-to-head in the skies above the foreshore.