Since last year, Melburnians have been able to see the Royal Exhibition Building from a new vantage point, with the dome promenade opening for the first time in 100 years. Now there’s another chance to see the World Heritage-listed building in a new light, with a brand new electronic music festival bringing large-scale live performances to the venue for the first time in more than two decades.

It’s part of a major new festival being put together by the City of Melbourne, with events taking place in nightlife spots, historic buildings, city streets and more. Called Now or Never, the event brings together art, ideas, music and technology; around 200,000 people are expected to attend over 17 days.

The full program will be announced later this month, but the first events have already been unveiled. The centrepiece is four nights of live music and performances at the Royal Exhibition Building, with both international and Australian headliners.

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On Thursday August 24, Orchestra Victoria is performing composer Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians, a genre-defining work by the minimalist pioneer, alongside a newly commissioned video piece by Kiwi multimedia artist Jesse Woolston. The next day, Friday August 25, English electronic duo Autechre is heading up “a journey of sonic exploration” played in total darkness, with 3D audio-visuals by artist Max Cooper and sets by British techno experimentalists Actress and Giant Swan.

The iconic structure is then taken over by Untitled Group, the producers behind Pitch Music & Arts, Beyond the Valley and Sun Cycle, for a club night featuring German house and techno duo Âme, Swedish house DJ Axel Boman, local club favourites CC:Disco, Ayebatonye and Dameeeela – it’s happening on Saturday August 25. And finally, Sunday August 26 will see an Australian exclusive performance by America’s Kelela, supported by fellow avant-garde R’n’B performer serpentwithfeet.

The southern hemisphere's biggest and longest-running design festival, Semi Permanent, is also returning to Melbourne for a one-day conference called Never Permanent, exploring tech, design and creativity.

More events and program announcements will be made in late June.