A life-size Stonehenge bouncy castle, an embrace of digital arts, a rich dance program and a film season packed with Oscar contenders highlight the biggest Perth International Arts Festival in its 62-year history.

Festival artistic director Jonathan Holloway on tonight announced a 2014 program which delivers plenty of bangs for the extra bucks poured into the event by sponsors, donors and Lotterywest.

The budget is set at $18.5 million, up from $17.5 million in 2013, and includes a record box-office target of $5.4 million.

The bangs start with a free Festival spectacular from Spanish pyrotechnics troupe Xarxa Teatre, repeated over three nights at Langley Park rather than the customary one-night opening stand.

"The 2014 Perth Festival collaborates with the world's greatest artists and many of WA's most creative and talented people to find new and exciting ways to create a Festival in and of Perth," Mr Holloway said.

"Joining us in our exploration of what it is to be a 21st Century festival in the remotest and yet most connected capital city in the Southern Hemisphere are Robert Wilson, Dawn Upshaw, Martin Amis, The National, William Kentridge, Tod Machover and Public Enemy, to name just 20 of the 1000-plus artistic collaborators."

Mr Holloway has assembled a strong list of Australian exclusives including Israel's renowned Batsheva Dance Company, China's first contemporary dance company the Beijing Dance Theatre and Russian director Dmitry Krymov's anarchic fantasy A Midsummer Night's Dream (As You like It).

American director Robert Wilson, who brought The Threepenny Opera to Perth in 2013, returns to perform his solo show, Krapp's Last Tape by Samuel Beckett. True Blood TV star Denis O'Hare will bring his solo show An Iliad, based on Homer's ancient tale.

Circus will be rollicking and raucous under a big-top with Britain's NoFit State and more refined in the theatre as Brisbane's Circa teams with France's Debussy String Quartet.

The festival reaches beyond the Europe-US axis with four works from South Africa and three from Israel, including the world's only deaf-blind theatre company which is bringing a fully blacked-out restaurant to Perth.

Turner Prize-winning UK artist Jeremy Dellar will install an inflatable Stonehenge replica, juxtaposing the ancient monument against Perth's 21st century skyline in Supreme Court Gardens.

The Festival also embraces new technology like never before.

Several events will be interactive, like the video multiplayer labyrinth show Situation Rooms. Others will be "crowd-sourced", drawing their content from public submissions like the beachside-memories film Girt by Sea and the sounds-of-Perth concert Between the Desert and the Deep Blue Sea.

The film season has several coups, including director Steve McQueen's acclaimed 12 Years a Slave, Robert Redford in the lone-sailor drama All is Lost and Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing.

Hip hop royalty Public Enemy, blues legend Booker T Jones and jazz singer Madeleine Peyroux lead the music line-up in the Festival Gardens, and The National celebrate Valentines Day up at the Belvoir Amphitheatre.

The storytelling power of video games - an industry which rivals Hollywood in its entertainment clout - will be put under the spotlight at the Perth Writers Festival. Booklovers will savour appearances by Martin Amis, Lionel Shriver, Margaret Drabble and Phillip Meyer.

The Festival runs from February 7 to March 1. Details: perthfestival.com.au


Bianco: A full-throttle aerial acrobatics and live music show from Britain NoFit State Circus. (Ozone Reserve big-top, February 12-March 1)

Mies Julie: A searing South African version of August Strinberg's battle of the sexes drama Miss Julie. (Octagon Theatre, February 7-13)

Batsheva Dance Company: A first-time Perth appearance by the Israeli company founded by the great Martha Graham 50 years ago. (Heath Ledger Theatre, February 9-17)

The House Where Winter Lives: UK's influential immersive-theatre leaders Punchdrunk create a walk-through wonderland for young children. (His Majesty's Theatre, February 14-23)

Sacrilege: British artist Jeremy Dellar's full-sized Stonehenge bouncy castle reminds us that art can be serious fun. (Supreme Court Gardens, February 17-March 1)

Outdoor film season: Led by Oscar best-picture frontrunner 12 Years a Slave, this summer's screen program is one of the best in memory. (Somerville and Pines, from November 25)

Public Enemy: On the penultimate night, the hip hop superstars cap off 24 nights of live contemporary music. (Festival Gardens, February 28)

Otello: This tri-nation collaboration between six opera companies bring Verdi's Shakespearean masterpiece to the Perth stage for the first time. (His Majesty's Theatre, February 4, 6, 8, 11)

Game Changers: A clever title for a fascinating Perth Writers Festival event involving creators of some of the world's hottest video games. (Octagon Theatre, February 22)

Not By Bread Alone: The staff of life as served by Israel's Nalaga'at Deaf-Blind Theatre. (Regal Theatre, February 8-12)

The West Australian

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