A world-première performance

A very special event for 2021 as John O’Donnell gives the first performance of his edition of the original version of Bach’s Art of Fugue. Published in December 2020 by the new European imprint Lyrebird Music, this is the first-ever publication of the first version of this work, of which Bach made a fair copy in 1742. At this stage it was a complete work in twelve movements, lasting a little under an hour. This will be the world première of the original Die Kunst der Fuga. Prior to the concert (at 10am), a free lecture will give a demonstration of the working methods of a musical sleuth and an insight into Bach’s compositional processes as revealed in the fair copy of this work and its subsequent revisions.

Details about the concert here.

Save these dates for upcoming events …

Final touches are being put onto this year’s festival, and we’ve structured it to be a Covid-safe experience.

Our extended dates are:

  • Sunday 9 May;
  • Festival weekend 11-14 June;
  • Sunday 11 July; and
  • Sunday 8 August.

Ensure you are subscribed to our newsletter and watch our social media for release of new events.

Mark the dates for ‘Festival reimagined’

While we’re finalising the events and the capacity and ticketing details in light of recent changes, mark the event dates in your diary.

Ticket sales will be announced by newsletter, social media and in the press. If you’re on our email mailing list, you’ll be first to find out.

The extra dates this year allow us to spread out events in a Covid-safe way, and ensure we have plenty of time in-between events to clean and prepare the event spaces in line with government requirements.

Your patience is appreciated!

2021 – a festival reimagined

Designing an event, let alone a festival with multiple overlapping events, in these ‘Covid-slightly-normal’ times is fraught for organisers. The Woodend Winter Arts Festival committee has been working on the 2021 festival for many months and believe that they have come up with the best solution to balance risk while still providing arts experiences for patrons. “It’s been one of our biggest challenges,” explains Dr Jacky Ogeil, Artistic Director. “We need to combine some flexibility, a cancellation process, potential rescheduling and adding in new events if possible, so we’ve really had to reimagine the festival from the ground up. And we want to honour our promises where possible, to the Victorian artists we booked for the 2020 Festival.” 

Festival 2021 will be ‘WWAF Re-imagined’ and will be spread over several winter months from May to August in Salon style to allow for sudden lockdowns and rescheduling, reduced audience numbers that can be expanded if allowed, and even repeated or additional events depending on the prevailing advice from local and state governments. “We have to ensure the safety of patrons and performers and minimise the risk of a complete festival cancellation if a third wave hits Victoria in winter.” 

Festival events are planned for 2nd Sunday in May, July and August in addition to the festival weekend of 11, 12, 13 June. Daytime events are planned and will comply with all necessary Covid-safe restrictions. All events will be ticketed and require patrons to list the names and contact details of all ticket holders. Subscribe to the Festival newsletter for updates on events and any changes. The festival program will be available on 29/3/21.

Press release: 20/2/2021

An announcement

2020 Woodend Winter Arts Festival postponed

It is with great sadness that the Woodend Winter Arts Festival Committee announces that the 2020 festival will be postponed as a result of the very real practical challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic and the impacts we are currently feeling here in Australia.

The festival was scheduled to take place as usual over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend (5 – 8 June 2020), and the program scheduling was complete. We were planning to announce the line up later this month.

We understand that regular festival attendees and locals will be disappointed, and that this is especially difficult for the artists we have engaged to perform and present; this festival has always been about creating opportunities for artists and performers to be paid for their work.

To that end, we are in the process of working with all those committed to the program to find a new date later in 2020 in the hope that the virus will have been contained and ordinary life has resumed. 

If we can, we will reschedule the festival. If we are not in a position to reschedule, we will cancel for 2020 and be back bigger and stronger in 2021. We hope you will be there for us.

This has been a difficult decision, but we must prioritise the health and well-being of everyone involved and balance the commercial reality that we simply cannot afford to sell tickets at the level we would need to remain sustainable, and expect our sponsors to commit to our program, in this uncertain environment.

We will do everything we can to bring the festival to you in 2020 and thank you for your patience and understanding.

November Fundraising event!

The Woodend Winter Arts Festival Foundation is planning a November fundraising event with a difference! The aim is for 12 (or more) hosts to invite friends to a fundraising dinner at their home/location on Saturday 16 November.

We’re looking for some generous folks who’d like to be a host and help us raise some funds for Festival operations for 2020.

How it works:

  • Register as a dinner host as soon as possible (contact WWAF Foundation chair by email);
  • Invite at least 12 of your friends to dinner (an invitation will be provided to you);
  • Guests will be asked to make a donation (which is tax deductible) to the festival to confirm their attendance (we will email you the link and any updates to forward on to your guests);
  • Plan and prepare your dinner event in whatever manner you’d like to (formal/stand-up/sit-down/informal/shared meal/nibbles/tapas/bbq/picnic/etc);
  • On the night, there will be a silent auction (online) and an online video hook-up so groups can catch up with each other;
  • Plan/facilitate any entertainment that you wish;
  • Any donations for ingredients or wine that you or your friends provide will be acknowledged;
  • The silent auction will be open before the event for any of the confirmed guests to make bids on – we have some fantastic things lined up! Visit the silent auction page here: https://www.32auctions.com/wwaf

For more information, email the chair of the Woodend Winter Arts Festival Foundation.

Thank you

It’s been a week since the festival, and our Committee and Volunteers are busily reporting, gathering data and finalising all the administration that goes into organising the festival.

Thank you for your continued support of the festival. We are delighted to bring you world-class events right here in Woodend.

To continue our work, we invite you to consider making a tax-deductible donation before 30th June. Again, thank you for your support.

Sold Out & Selling Fast


  • Piers Lane, Hommage a Chopin;
  • Viva Voce, Vino;
  • Advance Australia Where?


  • Kreisler & Rachmaninov;
  • Schubert’s Trout Quintet;
  • Poetry Slam;
  • Mozart & Haydn Saturday;
  • The Art of the Oud;
  • Viennese Classicism for Four Strings;
  • Vivaldi L’estro armonico Saturday.

Tickets now available

Welcome to the 2019 Program for our 15th annual Festival. To book your tickets, click PROGRAM in the menu.

2019 Program launch 2nd April

The full 2019 program will be launched on Tuesday 2nd April with tickets available that day. An exciting and eclectic lineup of national and international artists awaits you! Ensure you are signed up for our newsletter to be the first to see the program!