The Woodford Folk Festival will return to 500-acre festival site Woodfordia between 27 December and 1 January. The six-day festival, which attracts audiences of 132,000, is one of Australia’s largest gatherings of performers.

The environment, Indigenous issues, humanitarian response, the future of science, and the unexpected pains and pleasures of ageing are some of the topics that will be discussed at this year’s Woodford Folk Festival.

A first for the long-running event, organisers of the festival are releasing the Speakers Programme ahead of the launch of the full programme on 14 October 2017.

More than 70 speakers will appear at the event, lending a thought-provoking element to a programme otherwise filled with music, arts, circus, cabaret, forums, film, workshops, and children’s activities.

In conjunction with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, the programme will present a feature in The Reef Think Tank Series.

It will host some of the world’s leading researchers of marine health including UNESCO’s Dr Fanny Douvere (FRA) and Dr Brian Von Herzen from the Climate Foundation (USA). They will join Dr Karl Kruszelnicki at the festival as he hosts a panel on the State of the Reef.

Community leader and lawyer Noel Pearson will deliver a keynote address and participate in a series of talks addressing the road to Indigenous constitutional recognition.

Adding to the focus on First Nations heritage, Indigenous activist and performer Albert Wiggin, singer-songwriter John Butler, and archaeologist and rock art expert Peter Veth will contribute to a discussion about understanding the importance of The Kimberley.

The Humanitarian Lecture Series will focus on humanitarian issues, risk reduction, and climate change. Emergency shelter experts will share insights into humanitarian response and discuss why shelter is such a complex and largely misunderstood field.

The author of a best-selling novel and well-known journalist Tracey Spicer will share her journey into smashing the ‘good girl’ syndrome.

102-year-old dancer and Archibald sensation Eileen Kramer will discuss the links between the arts and good health. She will also appear in the wider programme as a performer.

Festival Director Bill Hauritz stated it is more important than ever to inspire conversation around some of the defining issues of these times.

“Woodfordia not only brings people together through joy and celebration, but also through ideas, issues and our shared aspirations for the future,” said Hauritz.

“To have thought leaders of this international standing all here at the same time is a coup for Queensland and one of the hidden treasures of the Woodford Folk Festival programme. We’re hoping this early release of our Speakers Programme ensures these leading lights aren’t lost within the thousands of performances showcased in the upcoming programme launch.”

Other contributors to the Speakers Programme will deliver talks on a wide range of subjects including Australian history, folk medicine, magical mycelium, the sacred art of India, bird song, and beer.

Read about last year’s festival here.


Banner Image: Dr Brian Von Herzen