THE Castlemaine State Festival has revealed an all-new relationship with Bendigo, as it releases its 2021 program featuring several performances in the city.
Running from March to April, the event is set to be among the state's first major cultural events to run after COVID-19 hit.
A Bendigo act is among the highlights, as well as musicians the Maes, Josh Teskey and Ash Grunwald, and Jess Hitchcock.
Every venue, space and event has been set up flexibly so the festival can mould itself to change if any new restrictions are introduced.
Artists include The Bendigo South Sudanese Women's Ensemble accompanying Ajak Kwai, performing on the festival's opening night.
Festival director Glyn Roberts said the new, close relationship in the festival with Bendigo was exciting to see.
It includes a link-up with the Bendigo Art Gallery's Mary Quant exhibition, which Mr Roberts said he hoped would capture the fashion display's audience for the festival as well.
Mr Roberts said the festival was also working heavily with Bendigo Venues and Events, to present acts such as Archie Roach at the Ulumbarra.
Among the festival's musical highlights are Cathy-Di Zhang, Dave Bridie, Liz Stringer, Lior, Allara, the Teeny Tiny Stevies, Richard Narroway and Josh Cohen.
Ensembles including the Melbourne Mandolin Orchestra, Omega Ensemble, the Goldner String Quartet, the Inventi Ensemble and artists from the Australian National Academy of Music will also feature.
The festival's Dialogues program will include authors Helen Garner, Don Watson, chefs Rosa Mitchell and Carlo Grossi, ABC presenter Michael Rowland, former politician Gareth Evans, activist the Reverend Tim Costello and musician Archie Roach.
Mr Roberts said the festival line-up was mainly Victorian-based, a practical response to pandemic parameters.
But its captured a few Sydneysiders and even managed to feature an international act.
Spanish group the Marala Trio will broadcast an event from Europe, using a binaural microphone and video-link straight into listeners' headphones.
Mr Roberts said it was a great point of pride that Castlemaine could lead the state into a - hopefully - post-COVID-19 2021.
"It's really an a amazing thing to be able to put this program out there, basically the first of its kind for 2021 in Victoria, and it's all happening here," he said.
Find out more about the Castlemaine State Festival at: castlemainefestival.com.au/
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.