The Sugar Mountain Festival line-up in 2016 includes Hot Chip, the Dirty Three, Royal Headache and Courtney Barnett.

Now in its fifth year, the Melbourne festival expanded last year from The Forum Theatre to the generous indoor-outdoor sprawl of the Victorian College of the Arts. It returns to the VCA on Saturday January 23 with a top selection of cutting-edge international acts including hyped pop/R’n’B outsiders Kelela and Empress Of – both recent recipients of Best New Music ratings from Pitchfork. They join dance powerhouse Hot Chip, mood-swinging rapper Le1f, boogie-funk figurehead Dām-Funk, UK house producer Julio Bashmore, Beats in Space radio show veteran Tim Sweeney and Canada’s soon-to-be-renamed Viet Cong.

Even if you don’t know a lot of those overseas names, the local contingent has more than enough draw. Courtney Barnett is finishing up one of the best years on record for a breakout Australian act, while long-running instrumental trio Dirty Three is still one of the country’s most powerful live bands. Other Aussie acts include City Calm Down’s throwback synth-pop; Alpine’s self-aware confection; Pearls’ glam-riddled indie rock; and dance-driven acts such as Total Giovanni, Roland Tings and Harvey Sutherland & Bermuda.

Heading the art line-up is Paris-based duo, Nonotak (you might remember this light-and-sound trip from last year) which will present a world premiere. Also exhibiting is Sydney filmmaker Daniel Askill (behind many of Sia’s video clips, including for Chandelier and Elastic Heart), Melbourne architecture studio SIBLING and more.

The festival adds a new twist this time with the “immersive restaurant experiment”, Sensory. It combines top talent from Melbourne’s food (Bomba owner-chef Jesser Gerner), music (live-dance outfit Cut Copy) and art scenes (designers Tin & Ed).

Full line-up:

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Hot Chip
Dirty Three
Courtney Barnett
Julio Bashmore
Royal Headache
Viet Cong
Empress Of
Tim Sweeney
Tom Trago
Kate Tempest
Roland Tings
Harvey Sutherland & Bermuda
Total Giovanni
City Calm Down
Sampa the Great
Kate Miller
Laila Sakini
Research & Development

Daniel Askill
Nic Hamilton
Yahna Fookes x Martha Zakarya
Prue Stent x Honey Long x Clare Longley

Sugar Mountain returns January 23, 2016 at Victoria College of the Arts in Melbourne. Tickets go on sale at 12pm on Monday October 19.

Broadsheet is a media partner of Sugar Mountain.