Opening & Closing Celebrations

Opening Celebrations

Date: Friday, 26 April 2019
Time: 6.30pm
Location: Darwin Waterfront

Dance, music, and song will join together in a powerful show, highlighting the vast, culturally diverse communities we have in the Top End.

Directed by Artistic Director Ben Graetz, the show brings cultural groups, artists and performers together for the highly anticipated Arafura Games 2019 Opening Celebrations.

As the sun sets a special Larrakia Welcome will open this special event followed by unique performances by artists and community leaders, featuring NT Dance Company, choreographed by local Larrakia man Gary Lang, and guest artists Shellie Morris and Leah Flanagan.

This incredible showcase of cultural groups from across Darwin will come together to celebrate our neighbours from across the Arafura Sea and to welcome the visiting athletes.

Award-winning hip hop artist, the Fresh Prince of Arnhem Land, Baker Boy will close this extraordinary event with his infectious raps in Yolngu Matha language representing his bloodlines.

The night sky will also come alive with an eruption of fireworks to officially open the Arafura Games 2019.

Program of Events

Arrive from 5pm: Enjoy a bite to eat at one of the restaurants, cafes or food stalls within the Darwin Waterfront precinct.  Sit back and enjoy the wonderful surroundings with some pre-show entertainment including Milula, the 2019 Arafura Games mascot.

Main Event - 6.30pm: Take your seats, then sit back to enjoy the main Opening Celebrations.


Closing Celebrations

Date: Saturday, 4 May 2019
Time:  6.30pm
Location: Darwin Waterfront

Come down to this iconic beauty spot and marvel at a kaleidoscope of colour and movement as the Arafura Games 2019 come to an end.

Directed by Artistic Director Ben Graetz, this magical event will be a distinctive tribute to the Arafura Sea and its people, as well as a breathtaking goodbye for visiting athletes.

Over a period of three months school students have been working with Aly de Groot and the Groote Eylandt Weavers to create a seascape like no other and a woven sea creature to adorn the stage.

Shellie Morris, Leah Flanagan, and Stevie Jean will perform a soulful dedication to the Arafura Sea before the We Is One dance spectacular that showcases local dance schools Rix Kik Arts, Express Studios and Darwin Gymnastics.

Skinnyfish Sound System will then unleash a dance party to remember to close out Arafura Games 2019 with the perfect combination of Aboriginal anthems and party beats.

Program of Events

Arrive from 5pm: Enjoy a bite to eat at one of the restaurants, cafes or food stalls within the Darwin Waterfront precinct.  There will some pre-show entertainment including Milula, the 2019 Arafura Games mascot.

Main Event - 6.30pm: Take your seats and sit back and celebrate the past nine days as the Arafura Games 2019 come to a close.


Northern Territory Artists:

Ben Graetz

Ben Graetz is an Iwaidja/Malak Malak man from Darwin with Torres Strait Islander heritage. He has an extensive career in the performing arts sector, establishing himself as one of Australia's most dynamic and influential arts makers and programmers working as a performer, director, producer, writer and artistic director.

Baker Boy 

Danzal Baker, AKA Baker Boy, is the freshest new Yolngu hip-hop talent from the Top End. Young, strong and proud,  22-year-old Baker Boy raps in Yolngu Matha language representing his Arnhem Land bloodlines. Since the debut of his song Cloud 9 in May 2017, Baker Boy has won more than 21 key awards across the country and played  at a multitude of prime festival slots.

Shellie Morris

Proud Yanyuwa and Wardaman woman Shellie Morris is a multi-award-winning singer and songwriter, performing  in around 17 Australian Aboriginal languages. She has been in the spotlight over the years for her involvement with Black Arm Band, ARIA nominations, Music Australia Award and G.R. Burarrwanga Memorial Award. Shellie also works tirelessly in communities affecting change.

Leah Flanagan

Songwriter, singer and sometime ukulele whisperer, Leah has collaborated with the likes of John Cale, Meshell Ndegeocello and poet Sam Wagan Watson.  She brings a refreshing and unique authenticity to her work; releasing three studio albums (Nirvana Nights - 2010, Saudades - 2016 and Oceanic Sessions - 2017) and one live album (Live at the bella Union - 2017).

Gary Lang (NT Dance Company)

Gary is a Larrakia man who trained at the National Aboriginal and islander dance School (NAISDA). Over the years he has toured nationally and internationally with some of Australia's premier dance companies, including Bangarra, Dance North and Tracks Inc. He is the founder of the NT Dance Company, which has long been an integral part of the Northern Territory’s rich artistic culture.

Skinnyfish Sound System

Skinnyfish Sound System brings together some of the best Australian music producers with some of the best Indigenous performers and the re-imagining of an extensive back catalog of songs from Skinnyfish Music. The didgeridoo, known throughout Arnhem Land as the “Bambu, Yidaki or Mollay”, is placed in the centre of the sound system which gives it a truly modern tribal feel.

Important Information

Arriving at the Venue

We recommend you travel via public transport or park within the Darwin CBD  and then walk to the venue. This is to avoid delays as there will be congestion around the Darwin Waterfront precinct.

Free Buses

There will be free public access to existing public transport services to and from the Opening & Closing Celebrations.

These buses will arrive and depart from the Darwin Bus Interchange on Harry Chan Ave going to/from Palmerston and Casuarina Interchange.

As these celebrations are non-ticketed events, passengers will need to advise the driver they are heading to or from the celebrations to receive free public transport.

                 Bus 14c is currently unavailable



Parking will be limited. Further information will be provided as details are confirmed.

Restaurants, Cafés, and Food Stalls:

There is a host of great food options at Darwin Waterfront. Come early and secure your spot within the spectator seating areas and enjoy a bite to eat. Food stalls details will be updated once confirmed.

For further information on food options please visit the Waterfront Precinct


Toilets are located near the Wave Lagoon Kiosk and behind Il Lido Bar Pizza & Hot Tamale restaurants. Additional portable toilets are located near the glass lifts and near the main entrance on Kitchener Drive.

Spectator Seating:

Please note there is a special Athlete Seating Area which the public cannot access. However, there a plenty of great vantage points for spectators to view the celebrations.  Bring down a picnic rug or camp chair and sit back and enjoy the show.

Prohibited items:

For the safety, health and wellbeing of all visitors, Arafura Games asks that all signs,  including lifeguard, security and staff instructions be observed.  Everyone entering the Darwin Waterfront will pass through a security check point where bags and other items will be checked for prohibited items.

The entire Waterfront precinct is an alcohol-free zone with the exception of the licensed premises. Glass and alcohol is not permitted to be brought into the Darwin Waterfront.


Recreation Lagoon/Sea Wall:

An exclusion zone will be  placed around the sea wall to make way for the fireworks display. The Sea Wall will be closed from 2pm to 11pm. The Outer Recreation Lagoon will be closed from 3pm and the Inner Recreation Lagoon closed from 7pm.

Darwin Waterfront