Wednesday, June 19, 2024


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Festival Kicks Off With Fine Wine, Laughs And Mysterious Stories

Merrick Watts has cracked the code when it comes to ensuring his audiences have a great time.

It’s a straightforward formula – ply your audience with wine, tell them hilarious stories relating to the wine, rinse and repeat.  

It’s simple, it works and it’s the reason why Merrick Watts – An Idiot’s Guide to Wine has been selling out shows all over the world.

Local audiences can catch the show at the MECC Plenary Halls during the Mackay Festival of Arts from Friday, July 5 to Sunday, July 7.

Mayor Greg Williamson said that the well-known comedian had a qualification in wine appreciation so audiences could expect to be educated and entertained.

“While Watts calls himself an idiot, you only have to listen to him talk about wine for a short time to realise he is actually a bit of an expert with qualifications as a sommelier,” Mayor Williamson said.

The Mayor said that each audience member would taste six wines during the show, but said that you didn’t have to be a wine connoisseur to have a great time.

“You’ll expand your palate, learn some fun facts about various wines and have plenty of laughs,” he said.

Also featured in the Mackay Festival of Arts opening weeks is Unlock the City, a production by Crossroad Arts that bestows audiences with the “keys of the city” and allows them to unlock secrets and mysterious Mackay stories.

Unlock the City performer and Crossroad Arts Ambassador Charlee Presland believes Unlock the City offers audiences a singularly unique theatre experience.

"I would say come and see the show because you will see things that you have never seen before and different people with different disabilities working together,” Ms Presland said.

“Some of us are deaf, some of us move differently – it is an experience you never get to see in mainstream theatre,” she said.

Artistic Director Autumn Skuthorpe said the Crossroad Arts team was excited to reactivate some hidden and long forgotten areas of the Mackay CBD.

“It’ll be exciting to revive memories of shopfronts and arcades through stories by our artists with disability,” Ms Skuthorpe said.

Unlock the City runs 7pm to 9pm, nightly, from Thursday, June 27, to Saturday, June 29, 2024.  Find out more info and grab tickets at

Also running over the first week of the Mackay Festival of Arts is:
   • From June 22 to August 10, 'The Brae' in Netherdale will be home to a number of events including an extraordinary exhibition featuring local artists and a series of hands-on workshops for all ages.
   • On July 3 at the MECC is From Campfire to Stage Light – an epic journey toward self-determination and Indigenous pride, as told through the life experience of David Bindi Hudson.
   • On July 6 and 7 is Between the Tides, a world-first concert series spanning two enchanting evenings, promising an intimate performance by Christine Anu and Josh Pyke, with each artist supported by Tia Gostelow.
   • On July 7, at the Australian South Sea Islander Hut, Hina: Under the Same Moon will welcome audiences to the world of traditional storytelling, where magic is woven into words and stories come alive.

For more details on any Mackay Festival of Arts event, visit

Merrick Watts (pictured) has cracked the code for perfectly blending wine appreciation with side-splitting comedy

Between the Tides spans two enchanting evenings, promising an intimate performance by Christine Anu on Saturday evening, followed by Josh Pyke on Sunday evening, with each artist supported by Tia Gostelow

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