THE second annual Midwinta Festival will kick off this weekend with a line up of arts and social events, celebrating Victoria’s diverse gender and sexuality communities.

Organised by Midsumma, Midwinta runs over two weeks and forms part of the beginning of Victoria’s arts, culture and festival calendar.

[showads ad=MREC]Midsumma chair Aaron Hockly said Midwinta is a chance to continue the success of Midsumma and to showcase local LGBTI arts and events.

“[Midwinta] gives us an opportunity to bring people together, and continue to showcase talented artists from diverse gender and sexuality communities all year round,” he said.

“Our first Midwinta Festival was very well-received and we aim to continue to grow it each year.”

This year the festival program features a number of comedy and cabaret shows, along with speaking events that will look at the issues facing the LGBTI community, such as HIV stigma and ethnic stereotypes.

Midsumma festival director Tennille Moisel promised a range of social events, as well.

“We will once again be hosting the Pride March Bakeoff (on Saturday at DT’s), which raises much-needed funds for the annual Pride March,” she said.

Another highlight of the program will be the second annual Midwinta Gala Ball in Melbourne, an event that aims to raise more than $20,000.

The night will feature a red carpet, performances and a live auction, with all proceeds going towards next year’s Midsumma Festival in January.

Hockly said this year’s ball sold out in less than a day.

“There are a number of significant people in our community that have the means to contribute to the ongoing financial viability of Midsumma and this event provides that opportunity,” he said.

“Every single performer has agreed to participate in the gala free of charge which is incredibly generous.

“The response to last year’s ball was incredibly positive and our job is to make sure the second Midwinta Gala Ball is just as successful.”

There will also be a Winterdaze dance party as part of the festival, with a line-up that will include Mardi Gras favourite DJ Alex Taylor.

Midsumma attracts over 200,000 attendees each year, bringing people form regional Victoria, interstate, and around the world.

According to organisers nearly half of those attending Midsumma events identify as heterosexual, highlighting the festival’s inclusive nature.

“Midwinta is our major fundraiser each year and it provides a range of options to connect, learn and to be entertained,” Hockly said.

Midwinta runs from July 25 to August 9. For details and bookings, visit midsumma.org.au

RELATED: View Star Observer’s photo galleries from the 2014 Midwinta Ball: Gallery 1 | Gallery 2

Main image credit: Matto Lucas (website)

The Star Observer is a proud media partner of Midsumma

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