Perth Festival closes with a massive street party

Design / Life


Perth Festival’s summer celebration of place and people culminated in an epic finale last night when tens of thousands of people reclaimed Canning Highway as a massive community carnival ground.

After the Highway to Hell trucks rock ’n’ rolled into the Fremantle sunset in tribute to favourite son Bon Scott, American gospel sensation Mavis Staples lit up the Chevron Lighthouse to bring three weeks of extraordinary Perth Festival performances to a rapturous close.

Celebrating 67 years as Australia’s longest-running curated arts event, Perth Festival’s success in tandem with Fringe World proudly confirms Perth as one of the world’s great festival cities.

Audiences, artists and the media acclaimed Perth Festival 2020 as an outstanding platform for Indigenous culture, exciting international world-premieres and collaborations – and as a destination event for locals and tourists alike.

Ticket sales were strong across all program areas, led by intense audience demand for the Indigenous performance program of the opening week – a first for any major Australian international arts festival and a celebration of Australia’s unique voice in the world.

‘I am thrilled with how audiences from near and far have responded to the power, breadth and quality of the Indigenous presentations in our first week – these works form our cultural bedrock, and audiences revelled in that sense of connection,’ Festival Artistic Director Iain Grandage says.

An estimated 150,000 people – plus more than 1000 artists and nearly 1000 event staff and volunteers – turned Canning Highway into a 10km-long celebration of Perth and the 40th anniversary of AC/DC frontman Bon Scott’s final rest.

Highway to Hell followed in the enormous footsteps of past Perth Festival outdoor spectacles like The Giants in the Perth CBD in 2015 and Boorna Waanginy in Kings Park in 2017 and last year.

And we are proud to say Perth now holds the World Record for the Biggest Air Guitar Ensemble; beating the previous record of 2377 with 3722 people shredding the air at Tompkins Park yesterday.

Highway to Hell has been a resounding international success, attracting Bon Scott devotees from across the globe and tapping into that little bit of Bon in all of us,’ Grandage says. ‘This crazy idea was turned into amazing reality with the immense backing of the State Government, local councils and other supporters.

‘This is a city that celebrates like few others. The happiness on Canning Highway during Highway to Hell was unmistakable, unmissable. This was our city, our story, our Bon Scott, and the music helped us dance into the sunset.’

More than 230 free and ticketed Festival events were held across theatre, music, dance, opera, film, visual arts and literature.

The 2020 Perth Festival is on track to meet its overall box-office target of $5.5 million for a program that champions our unique place and stories. Venue capacities were up 21 % in dance, 7% in theatre and the film program is on track to be the most successful since 2016. Full Festival attendances won’t be known for some time with several weeks of the 2020 film and visual arts program still to run.

The Black Swan State Theatre Company of WA/Malthouse Theatre hit production of Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet is playing at His Majesty’s Theatre until 15 March and our extensive Lotterywest Films program runs through until 5 April.

‘We were proud to present a series of collaborations between international artists and local performers. Colossus, Leviathan, Hofesh in the Yard, Fidelio and Ancient Voices all featured extraordinary local performers matching skills alongside international superstars,’ Artistic Director Iain Grandage says. ‘They made my heart sing.

‘A Festival like this is simply not possible without significant investment from other organisations. Our success is owned by many people and we look forward to many more Festivals alongside them.

‘I am thrilled with how people from near and far have responded so enthusiastically to the 2020 Festival. We have had audiences and artists from around the world join us here in Perth for three glorious weeks to revel in our culture, creativity and connections with one another.

‘Like me, people have such pride in our wonderful city and I am delighted that the Festival has been able to help bring to life the stories that make life here on Noongar Boodjar so special.’

For details about continuing Perth Festival events, visit: