The biennial Next Wave Festival takes over Melbourne this Saturday. The nine-day event, which celebrates and promotes the work of emerging artists, will take up residency in various venues across the city until May 27. Featuring 38 projects from over 600 artists, the festival supports and challenges young artists to create risky and ambitious art.

Artists aged between 16 and 30 will present interdisciplinary work across dance, literature, visual art, new media and performance. You can attend a shotgun wedding in East Melbourne, get a manicure in Richmond and discuss the role of women in the 21st century over dinner in Footscray.

While you are able to pick and choose individual events to attend, guests are encouraged to buy day passes. “We created these day-long journeys through the festival,” explains artistic director Emily Sexton. “You start with the Breakfast Club at the Wheeler Centre and then you have a posse of people that you venture throughout the city with and visit all the different works. It’s a bit like a music festival in a sense; you might think you are coming for one act but it is actually the other – someone you have never heard of before – that really knocks your socks off.”

What separates Next Wave from other festivals is that it is invested in artists’ entire creative process – from their work’s conception to its presentation. “Our biennial cycle means that we spend about 18 months in development and then we present that work in a festival every two years,” Sexton says. “I guess we are just as much a company that produces art as we are a festival that presents it.”

Such a model is unique in Australia, while internationally it is almost unheard. “It’s quite an exciting thing to have in Melbourne,” adds Sexton. “I don’t think there is any other festival in Australia that could lay claim to that environment of risk and brand new ideas.”

With so many interesting events taking place throughout the festival, it’s hard to narrow down which ones we are most excited to attend. Here are a few that we are particularly looking forward to:

Drums Between the Bells
Exploring the realm between the physical and the spiritual, artist Tiffany Singh invites audience members to take a bell on a pilgrimage and reinstall it in their sacred place in Melbourne.

Bone Library
For five days during the festival, performance artist Sarah-Jane Norman will be at Melbourne City Library engraving Indigenous Australian languages onto sheep and cattle bones. On the final day of the festival, audiences are able to take a single bone with them.

Talon Salon
Pop into Paradise Nails in Richmond and explore the culture of Vietnamese-run nail salons while listening to a fictional audio piece and having a nail treatment of your choice.

The Hull
The Mission to Seafarers provides a temporary home to 60,000 seafarers who dock in Melbourne’s ports each year. Visual artists Laura Delaney and Danae Valenza have created an installation within the historic building that explores the Mission’s deep history.

Next Wave runs from Saturday May 19 to Sunday May 27. Check the website to view the entire program and purchase tickets.