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Broken Heel Festival opens officially Thursday

Drag and disco makes a welcome return to the desert this week when the Broken Heel Festival hits town.

The annual event, which first kicked off in 2015, has a reputation for being nothing short of fabulous, and after a two year hiatus, organisers are promising extra sparkle, double the drag, bigger productions and more glitter than you can shake a stick at.

From Thursday to Monday, the streets of Broken Hill will say a temporary goodbye to its humble country vibe, transforming into a vibrant hub of comedy, cabaret and wonderful live music performed by cultural personalities from all corners of Australia.

The festival, pays homage to the iconic cult movie and musical Priscilla Queen Of the Desert and showcases this theme throughout its many performances and attractions.

Event organiser and manager of The Palace Hotel, Esther LaRovere, explained how she had ‘incredible support’ from movie writer Stefan Elliot, meeting on several occasions to discuss the potential for the event.

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“He spoke about discovering The Palace Hotel and the use of it as a central set for the film,” said Ms LaRovere.

“To use his words, Broken Hill is the spiritual home of the movie after almost 70% of the production was filmed in and around the town.

“He donated the show bus for the celebration, which is now a big part of the festival’s identity.

Esther brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Broken Heel Festival, with a background in events, and almost a decade of experience on the festival circuit in the UK, which included the iconic Glastonbury Festival, so it’s little wonder the event has been such a great success. There were, however, initial concerns about how the celebrations would be received locally.

“I was confident that once people had experienced it, it was going to be great but there was some reservation and adversity at the start,” Ms LaRovere said.

Despite these reservations, The Broken Heel Festival has gone from strength to strength, the celebrations have gotten bigger and better and the event is now championed by locals and the lgtbqia+ community near and far.

It is endorsed by destination NSW, a regarded event on the Tourism NSW calendar, as well as recently partnering with Tourism Australia to promote the Festival on a domestic and international level.

“Every year we get ticket sales from all over Australia, we sold our ticket quota entirely in 2019 which was really great,” Ms LaRovere said.

There are countless benefits to hosting community events in remote and regional parts of Australia. Socially and economically, towns and their communities can thrive off large scale events such as this. Esther regards it as, “a wonderful thing for humanity”.

The Broken Heel Festival has a set of very clear aims and missions, the promotion of inclusivity amongst sub cultures within the region is one.

“Often in the city, an event is very well marketed at that community and that community only, events are not as much cross sectional,” said Ms LaRovere.

“My customers at The Palace Hotel, are a mixed bag, a drag queen, could be sat next to a miner, who could be next to a lawyer who could be sat next to a pensioner.

“That is the fascinating thing about the country, more often than not sub-cultures have to mingle and join together.”

Esther and her ‘key crew’, which includes her sister and brother in law, are passionate about promoting the queer experience and driving the connection between the lgbtiqa+ community, local first nation and regional groups. They hope to raise the profile of the region and lgbtiqa+ culture for audience and artist whilst enhancing the visibility of lgbtiqa+ artists in regional areas.

Esther says the event is a “fantastic opportunity for people who have never been a queer event or experienced anything of the kind”.

The success of the festival and how it’s been received by the local and wider lgbtiqa+ community is a message to those in the city and surrounding areas who might be dubious about country morals and values.

“Many might think we are being the eight ball with regards to progressive attitudes but this isn’t the case,” Ms LaRovere stated.

“Many locals are now an advocate for our events, and actively contact their queer family members, reaching out and welcoming them back to the country.

This year, the festival has pulled some big cross-sectional acts, who were very keen to partake in such a wonderful bush event, including some proud locals. The productions this year promise to be bigger and glitzier than ever before. Performances from the likes of Joel Creasey and renowned performer Lucy Holmes in her 100% Kylie tribute act, will delight the crowds well into the evening.

“We have some wonderful acts, many of which would be their own stand alone shows,” Ms LaRovere explained.

“There is a lot of bang for your buck and an enormous amount of entertainment that people can enjoy in one place.

“The 100% Kylie show on Friday evening has been circuiting for almost 20 years and is endorsed by Kylie herself, it will be phenomenal night of entertainment.”

If its accommodation you’re after, look into the new glamping grounds, on the Jubilee Oval, 90 Silver Street. Stay for the festival under a beautiful bush night sky, in large bell tents with timber beds, secured grass sites, and daily bus transfers to the festival HQ.

For further information and to purchase tickets, please see the website bhfestival.com. There will be a ticket office on the day but due to the sell out in 2019, there is a push to acquire tickets ahead of the weekend to avoid disappointment.

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