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Surfing is always the answer: Flotsam Festival aims to wipe out Gold Coast blues


Surf films and photographs by internationally renowned surf and ocean snappers will form the core of a new Flotsam Festival opening in May that aims to invigorate southern Gold Coast regions still reeling from the dual hits of pandemic financial ruin and devastating flooding.

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The inaugural Flotsam Festival will open on 1 May, becoming the first locally grown Gold Coast festival to open since pandemic restrictions have lifted for the city.

The week-long festival explores the creative side of surf culture, with a mix of short pop-up film installations, photography exhibitions, movie screenings, workshops and photo meets.

Festival Director, Carolyn Ridings Emge, said the Flotsam Festival aimed to help the southern Gold Coast bounce back while showcasing the area’s unique surf culture.

“In the lead up to Brisbane 2032, we’re aiming to build a platform that communicates our enviable coastal lifestyle through imagery and film that allows us to showcase our authentic, inimitable surf roots while highlighting the destination’s wealth of creative talent,” Emge said.

Flotsam will feature one of surf photography’s most recognised figures Peter ‘Joli’ Wilson and ocean photographer Trent Mitchell, along with more than 30 artists.

As well as ticketed events, Flotsam will include a free photo tour taking in reproductions of iconic surf images positioned at the locations they were captured along the Gold Coast Oceanway between Kirra and Point Danger.

Major Events Gold Coast CEO Jan McCormick said the festival had the potential to attract national and international visitors.

“The Gold Coast is quickly building a reputation as a cultural events destination with a host of fantastic art, music and film festivals, and the Flotsam Festival is an exciting addition to our calendar of events,” McCormick said.

The festival has echoes of the early days of Bleach Festival, which is now one of the Gold Coast’s biggest annual cultural festivals.

Bleach started as a small creative fringe event alongside the World Championship Tour Quiksilver Pro surfing event, held on the Southern Gold Coast in 2012.

Bleach has since grown to one of Australia’s most recognised site-specific contemporary arts festivals, attracting close to one million people since its kick-off event.

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