The Melbourne Festival has just started its 18-day program, and if you haven’t had a chance to look yet, it’s not too late. This year’s line-up of dance, circus, theatre, music and visual arts officially ends on October 23 and while some events are sold out, there are still plenty left to see.

This is the first festival under the artistic direction of Jonathan Holloway, who has continued in the festival’s tradition of presenting a program that spans a wide spectrum of events: from the intimate to the exaggerated, the familiar to the boundary-pushing, with a line-up of local and international performers.

Here are some highlights worth checking out, before it’s too late:

Les Tambours de Feu – Deabru Beltzak
This week the city streets will be overrun by extravagant costumes, explosive pyrotechnics and the rhythmic sound of drums. Each night from October 6 to 8 Basque company Deabru Beltzak will bring the tradition of correfoc (fire runs) to the CBD in a dazzling display of colour, noise, and – of course – fire. Expect to go to bed with your ears ringing.

Haircuts by Children – Mammalian Diving Reflex
Haircuts by Children is exactly what it says it is. For two weekends during the festival Canadian theatre company Mammalian Diving Reflex invites you to participate in its gleefully deconstructed piece of performance art, and to put your hair in the hands of 10-year-olds with scissors.

War and Peace – Gob Squad
The popular Berlin performance outfit Gob Squad has taken it upon itself to tackle one of literature’s most famously unread novels. Gob Squad transforms the problems of Tolstoy’s times into a more modern suite of concerns. Using live video throughout, the performance blurs the lines between fiction and reality. The script is shorter than the original novel, but it might have a higher body count.

Lady Eats Apple – Back to Back Theatre
One of the most anticipated shows of the festival is by this Geelong theatre company. Taking place on a huge inflatable stage at Hamer Hall, the company’s most ambitious production to date explores death and power in a surreal plane between the mythic and mundane.

Vertical Influences – Le Patin Libre
In Vertical Influences, Canadian dance troupe Le Patin Libre takes what you think you know about ice skating and turns it on its head. Less spandex and more subversive street style, Le Patin Libre shakes off the traditionally rigid choreography of the sport in favour of a more modern interpretation. Namely, gravity-defying athletics and routine-decrying imagination.

Public Art Melbourne Biennial Lab: What Happens Now?
The Queen Victoria Market will be reimagined by a group of artists. Their elaborate and sometimes evocative temporary installations will encourage you to rethink the meaning of the market, and to uncover new layers of its Indigenous, colonial and migrant history.

Festival Lates
This year The Toff in Town will host the festival’s nightly afterparty. Open “very late” each night of the Melbourne Festival, The Toff gives priority access to festival ticket holders and is a place where you can digest the events of the day over cocktails and DJ sets, and party on alongside fellow festival-goers and artists.

Melbourne Festival 2016 will run from October 6–23 in a variety of locations around the city. Program information and further details here.