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Fresh Air 2015!

Fresh-Air-15-Postcard-FinalMelbourne’s International Games Festival, Fresh Air, is back for 2015, hosted by Pop Up Playground and commissioned and presented by Federation Square’s Creative Program.

Headlining Fresh Air this year are Fire Hazard Games from the UK, who are running the enormously popular street game City Dash and a brand new story telling game Flashpoint Fairytale. Escape Room Melbourne, Australia’s leading escape room designers, premiering a brand new boutique work on site. And for one night only, Folly, a new city wide urban role playing game by the team who bring you Woodfordia, the woodford folk festival game.

We’ll also be showcasing new works by local designers Christy Dena, Georgia Symons, Kilkenny Games and Snapstone games, alongside some old favourites and some new games by Pop Up Playground and by our old friends at Coney, Hide and Seek and Slingshot.

We’ll be playing street games in St Pauls Court and the Amphitheatre at Federation Square from 11 am to 4pm friday to monday. The Night time program starts at 6 – and runs til 9.00.

Tickets for head line games are essential and can only be booked online.

citydashCity Dash (Firehazard Games, UK)
Fri and Sat nights, 7:30pm

An exciting and intense hour in the city.

Run for checkpoints, replan on the fly as the map changes, and duck for cover as our patrolling guards close in. Or take it more strategically, rack your brains to solve our cryptic clues, and keep your eyes open for bonus points.

However you play, you can watch the live scoreboard for updates and battle it out with nearby teams. With a huge range of strategies, approaches, and levels, you can take this as casually or competitively as you want.

Friday night:
Saturday night:

follyFolly: The Game (Woodfordia, AUS)
Sunday night 6pm

Folly is an UrbanRPG with an absurdist bent. Expect ridiculous challenges, dares, an interactive and hilarious narrative and a spectacular finale.

Developed by Tim Monley, creator of Woodfordia: The Game, a spectacular six day long game played every year by thousands of participants at the Woodford Folk Festival. For Fresh Air Festival this experience has been condensed into three hours of silliness and adventure for one hundred lucky people.



Flashpoint Fairytale (Amy Strike, UK)
Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon 3pm, extra game Sunday 8pm

Flashpoint Fairytale is a storytelling tabletop game filled with old maps, evil overlords, witches, trolls and, despite being a game played over a table, lots of running around and shouting. Players choose a character (whether inventor, doctor, wizard, hero or diplomat) and then work together to help that character escape the enemy, survive the story and find out what on earth is going on and how they can (oh yes) save the land. Created by Fire Hazard Games. Requires 4 to 5 players.



Bakers of Anarchy (Universe Creation 101, AUS)
Fri, Sat, Sun nights 6pm


You are a contestant in the finale of the 9th Annual Cake Decorating Championship. One of the hosts has been embroiled in a bitter buttercream scandal, and so you arrive to find an Anarchist is now running the competition. In this hands-on live game, you do whatever you can to impress the revolutionary philosopher with your anarchic cake decorating to ultimately win the championship, or the good fight.

A game by Christy Dena of Universe Creation 101


alienAlien Meteorites of Federation Square (That Probably Won’t Kill Us All)

Fri, Sat, Sun nights, 6pm, 7pm, 8pm

Three meteorites from outer space have crash-landed in Federation Square. How convenient! But also mysterious, and maybe even dangerous. We can’t figure out what they are, where they came from, or why they’re here. Maybe you can help us? Come and lend your expert opinion as we try to unlock the secrets of the Alien Meteorites of Federation Square (That Probably Won’t Kill Us All)!

Created by: Georgia Symons
Designed by: Daniel Moulds


escaperoom Escape Van

Hourly 11am to 3pm Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon during the day
6pm to 8pm Fri, Sat, Sun evenings
Tickets are $20 each, or $70 for a full team of four.

A new puzzle room experience from the team at Escape Room Melbourne! Melbourne in the 1950s. Government spies have caught word of a planned assassination, and you’re on the suspect list. To prove your innocence, you will need to break into a surveillance van and piece together the mystery. Expect mind-boggling gadgets, espionage, intrigue, and a healthy serve of good old-fashioned code-cracking.


Spirits Walk, the headline game of Fresh Air 2014

Ben McKenzie, our Games Mechanic, talks about a work commissioned for Fresh Air in 2014: Serious Business’ Spirits Walk.

It’s pretty rare at Pop Up Playground that I get to play a game I’ve had almost nothing to do with, but last year that was exactly what I got to do with Spirits Walk, the headline game of the festival – and what a game it was.

Commissioned by our Artistic Director Robert Reid from UK designers Serious Business (Grant Howitt and Mary Hamilton), who luckily for our budget happened to be living in Sydney at the time, it was the centrepiece of last year’s festival, taking players not across Federation Square but into the heart of Melbourne. Here’s the video trailer, filmed by Elliott Summers during the festival:

sw1So: players are invited by the Tattered Prince, head of the court of Melbourne’s spirits and gods, to join in the Spirits Walk, a celebration of the spirit world. But you can’t just rock up to something like that unprepared, you must have a mask – and not just any mask, a mask made of spirit stuff. So the Prince has weakened the walls between our world and his for an hour, and given us instructions on how to find various little gods of Melbourne. If we can satisfy them, they will grant us tokens of the spirit world we can bind into a mask so we can join in the Spirits Walk!sw2

What that translated to was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I scurried about the city, following the map in my guide to the spirit world, looking for the gods and enacting the prescribed rituals needed to summon them. I was asked to trade a worthless piece of paper for “something of value” with strangers, to give up a secret of my own to a snappily dressed spirit under a bridge, to dance intimately with a partner under the gaze of the public to music no-one else could hear, to fight invisible monsters to protect ordinary people just trying to cross a bridge, and more.

sw3All of these activities were transgressive and touched on things we’re told not to do: wave (cardboard) swords around in public (don’t worry, it was slow and safe), ask people you’ve never met to give you something, ignore the approving or disapproving looks of strangers as you dance in front of them… Each on its own was magical, but to dash about the city seeking out as many of them as possible in a limited time made it exactly the sort of transformative experience you see in stories of urban fantasy and (to borrow Grant’s own term) junk magic.

When I say transformative, I don’t just mean of the player, but of the city. One of the great experiences of games like this is that you don’t look at the space in which you play them the same way. Degraves Street isn’t just a collection of cafés for me anymore – it’s where I danced to please the Skipping Girl, a spirit who just wanted me to be free and embrace the music; Hosier Lane isn’t just “that one with the amazing graffiti”, it’s where I gave up my favourite hat to a spirit without knowing when or how exactly I would get it back. These are magical stories and experiences that are layered on my city, crafted with great care and style by Grant and Mary and executed by the amazing cast in their incredible masks.

Spirits Walk is another example of a game that just isn’t possible without the infrastructure of a festival. Robert Reid and the Fresh Air team took Grant and Mary’s design and hired actors, commissioned masks and costumes and props, scouted locations and scheduled rehearsals. I often joke about one of our early works, The Curse, that it requires more actors than players, but some of the greatest experiences need this kind of scaffolding. The players still make the stories themselves, but they are guided by creatures of our making, played by actors and mediated through craft. There’s nothing quite like it, and it’s for pieces like this that we make Fresh Air.

All the more amazing, then, that we did it on the shoestring budget of last year – and that it was free to experience! I really hope Grant and Mary mount it again, because every city deserves a little junk magic.

To keep making things like this, especially in collaboration with international designers, we need to increase the Fresh Air budget – and that’s where our Pozible campaign comes in. Please check it out and pledge if you can – there are some amazing rewards on offer! But it’s just as vital to our success for you to help spread the word.


Spirits Walk photos by Sarah Walker

Fresh Air international games announcement 1!

Today we’re announcing one of the international games we’ll be playing at #FreshAir15 – the Soho Stag Hunt! Designed by Minkette, Alex Fleetwood, Holly Gramazio and Tassos Stevens, and first played as part of The Soho Project alternate reality game, it involves players hunting a mythical stag around a suburban landscape and attaching balloons to its antlers to score points. It’s very easy to startle the stag, though – players can only approach in very small groups, cannot use mobile phones (the stag can sense them) and must not make too much noise! In the video below, from the game’s second outing at Hide and Seek 2008 in London, a large group of players are flattering the stag while they attach their balloons to make sure he doesn’t run away…

Stag Hunt from nikkipugh on Vimeo.

The Soho Stag Hunt has been played in a number of cities in different versions, including a creepier version called Black Stag in Pittsburgh; we’re excited to work on a version that will suit the particular needs of Fresh Air!

You can help us bring more international games like this to Melbourne by supporting our Pozible campaign for Fresh Air in 2015; find out more at:

Space Trek: The New Generation S8E01 – Time Travel Hijinx

Space-trek-logo_webAs part of Fresh Air festival 2014 #freshair14, Pop Up Playground and Federation Square are proud to present: Space Trek: The New Generation S8E01 – Time Travel Hijinx

Seek out strangely familiar life and go where nobody really ought to go in this game that’s half improv, half scavenger hunt and half choose-your-own-adventure. Don the uniform, pick up your iTricorder and become your favourite character, and join the rest of the crew on a mission to the year 2014.

7pm start, Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th MarchRead More

Playful Public Art Program at #freshair14

playfulCurated by public artist (and Pop Up Playground’s Constructive Communities Director) Sayraphim Lothian, Fresh Air’s playful public art program celebrates the playful appropriation of public space by artists working in various ways in the streets of Melbourne.

KimKim Tairi
Urban fox tales

Little foxes wander Melbourne’s laneways. A series of tiny poems that chronical their adventures. They will be left in and around laneways in the CBD in the lead up to the festival.


The Very Pointy Hat

Melbourne based plastic instigator Legojacker draws upon the all too familiar world of oppressive regimes and popular uprising, with his LEGO photo story ‘The Very Pointy Hat’. Featuring his trademark style of plastic mini-figures photographed in the real world, the story documents the final days of an evil king and his very pointy hat with the unique power to create monsters and make people disappear. Photographed in Melbourne’s iconic Hosier Lane, The Very Pointy Hat shows that a playful plastic story can be a powerful one. The Very Pointy Hat will unfold over the duration of the festival and can be found on the Instagram feed @legojacker or by visiting the Instagram hashtag #theverypointyhat.


Haikubirds for Fresh Air 2014
I started making Haikubirds over a year ago. Each bird is a sculpture with an accompanying haiku.
The birds have been set free in Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane and Lebanon. I will set free a few Haikubirds as part of Fresh Air 2014 and some mini Zines in the laneways of Melbourne.
Find one and it’s yours.


Junky Projects
Details coming soon…


Erin Greer
Details coming soon…


Fresh Air Festival is presented by Pop Up Playground and Federation Square.

Spirits Walk – a new pervasive street game for #freshair14 by Serious Business

Spirits-Walk-webA Lost Waif, a Wandering Entertainer, a King by the River… the spirits of Melbourne must find the forgotten and impossible Gods who walk the streets as the sun is setting.

Headlining Pop Up Playground’s 2014 Fresh Air Festival will be a brand new game designed and presented by international guest artists Serious Business from the UK.

In their game, Spirits Walk, players enter the spirit world and make new spirits of their own through a series of rituals and a masked procession after sunset.

7th 8th and 9th of March
Starting at 7:00 PM at the Pop Up Playground tent at Federation Square
Free to play but bookings would be appreciated – or at Trybooking:

Fresh Air Festival is presented by Pop Up Playground and Federation Square.

Final playtest for Fresh Air 14

playtestPeople! People! Come help us fine tune some of the new games we’ve designed for Fresh Air, 2014. It’s free, it’s fun and it’s the most important part of the game designing process.

We need you!

10-4, Saturday 22 of Feb, 2014

Come along at 10 and meet in the Atrium at Fed Square (usually we start at the big table in Beer Deluxe) and be the first to play(test) our newest, funnest games yet!

If you can make it all day or only for an hour or two, we’d love you to come help us make awesome situations! Email us to let us know you’re coming – rabbithole @

Playtest for Fresh Air 14

FreshAirPlaytest Fresh Air is returning for another year, as we have a load of brand new games we need to playtest.

10-4, Monday 27 Jan 2014

Come along at 10 and meet in the Atrium at Fed Square and be the first to play(test) our newest, funnest games yet!

If you can make it all day or only for an hour or two, we’d love you to come help us make awesome situations! Email us to let us know you’re coming – rabbithole @