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Events and Festivals in Australia

Photo © Curleys

Travel Guide Oceania Australia Events and Festivals in Australia

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January

  • New Years Eve in Sydney - Although there are significant New Year's celibrations in other Australian cities, the Sydney event has gained a reputation as one of the biggest parties in the world. Travellers wanting to see the fireworks spectacle in Sydney should ensure accommodation is booked well in advance, as options become very limited (and hideously expensive) close to the date.
  • The Australian Open in Melbourne kicks off the year with some world class tennis, attracting large crowds from around the world.
  • The Big Day Out music festival tours throughout Australia/NZ during January, visiting Auckland, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth. Starting in Sydney in 1992, the 1 day festival now attracts around 300,000 people and offers a wide variety of local and international acts across 7 stages. Tickets usually go on sale in November and are often sold out within a week.
  • Held on various days during the first 2 weeks of January, the Summa Dayze festival is a dance music extravaganza for those who love to keep right on partying after New Year's Eve. Originally starting in 1999 in Melbourne's Botanical Gardens on New Years Day, in 2010 Summa Dayze goes national. Summa Dayze attracts a huge rave crowd to hear international artists play over a 12-hour set. Tickets go on sale in November/December and usually sell out just before Christmas.
  • Held in Lorne over the New Years Eve period, the Falls Festival has been running since 1993. From its humble beginnings when a young surfer and his mates decided to put a shout-out to their favourite bands to play at the farm on new year's eve, the festival has grown to now attract big-name international bands and more than 10,000 music lovers each year. Camping onsite at the festival is a tradition, with passouts allowing access to the beach and town centre of Lorne. Tickets generally go on sale in late October / early November and sell out within a few days.
  • Another New Years Eve festival, the Pyramid Rock Festival is held on a farm on the south coast of Phillip Island. Festival goers generally camp onsite arriving on either the 29th or 30th December. Tickets go on sale in September and despite setting you back about AUD$200, often sell out within a few weeks.
  • The Sydney Festival is a major cultural celebration showcasing theatre, dance, music and the arts held in January each year.

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February

  • The Tasmanian Circus Festival is set in remote bushland 50 kilometres from Launceston, Tasmania, during February. Beginning in 1989 Circus Fest has grown to be the national celebration of contemporary circus in Australia. Tickets sell out fast during October.
  • St Jerome's Laneway Festival - If you like the idea of a music festival held in Melbourne's laneways, then this one is for you! Held in Caledonian Lane in Melbourne's CBD since 2005, this 1 day festival is a relatively new addition to Melbourne's summer festival circut. While a back-alley wouldn't be the first place that comes to mind when you think of outdoor festivals, St Jeromes has ensured that for one Sunday a year in February, Caledonian Lane has become the melting pot for those who love good indie music and cold beer. Tickets go on sale in the first week of November each year.
  • Held on the St Kilda beach foreshore in early February, St Kilda Festival is well known for large crowds, loud rock bands, fringe art, extreme sports, dance, and funky entertainment. Attracting more than 350,000 people each year, this free festival should be on every traveller's to-do list in Melbourne.

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March

  • Over Labour Day Weekend each March, Port Fairy is home to the world-famous Port Fairy Folk Festival. Drawing thousands of people from all parts of the world, this Folk Festival presents over 130 international and national artists across more than 20 venues. This four days festival features roots, celtic, folk, country, bluegrass, blues, jazz, rock, crossover and world music.
  • The Australian Grand Prix, held in Albert Park in Melbourne, kicks of the worldwide Formula One season.
  • The Moomba Waterfest is an annual festival held along the Yarra River and culminating in the Moomba Parade. It is one of Australia's oldest festivals, running since 1955. Due to some clever planning, it usually coincides with the start of the Grand Prix festivities.
  • The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival runs for two weeks around March each year.

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April

  • ANZAC Day specifically commemorates the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps that landed at Gallipoli, Turkey in World War I and more generally honours the contribution that Australian soldiers have made in various wars. There are major parades and commemoration services in all the cities as well as a minute of silence. ANZAC day is on the 25th of April.
  • The Melbourne International Comedy Festival features comedians from around the world and runs for several weeks each year. It is widely considered one of the top 3 comedy festivals in the world, along with the comedy festivals in Montreal and Edinburgh.
  • The Apollo Bay Music Festival features an eclectic range of performers from Australia and overseas. It is held in April.

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May

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June

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July

  • Splendour in the Grass is an annual music, arts and youth culture event which takes place on the outskirts of Byron Bay each July/August. The festival site at Belongil Fields is about 2 kilometres from the centre of Byron Bay and most festival goers camp onsite for the 2 days and 2 nights of the festival. As well as a great line up of both Australian and international artists, the festival also features local arts and crafts, creative performance and cuisine. Musical acts for Splendour in the Grass have previously included: Coldplay, Bloc Party, Arctic Monkeys, Queens of the Stone Age, Moby, Brian Wilson, Wolfmother, The Living End, Devo, The Polyphonic Spree and many, many more. An extremely popular festival offering only 17,500 tickets each year, tickets to Splendour in the Grass often sell out in under 24 hours.

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August

  • The Melbourne International Film Festival features films from Australia and over 50 countries around the world.
  • Freedom Festival is a large scale dance festival new in 2008. Bringing together UK, USA and Australia’s best dj’s, bands, vocalists, pyrotechnics and luring creatures, Freedom Festival is all about the total entertainment experience. Freedom Festival has been described as "A cultural fusion of world class dj’s and the total entertainment experience that will re-define the Dance Festival experience." Spread over three distinct areas at Hordern Pavilion (near the SCG), Freedom Festival will include an outdoor wonderland, street stalls, oxygen bar, velcro walls and a decadent VIP lounge. The first Freedom Festival will be held on the last weekend in August and between 7,000 - 10,000 tickets are expected to be sold.
  • The City2Surf is Australia's greatest fun-run with around 60,000 people of all ages running the 14-kilometre course from the centre of the city to Bondi Beach.

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September

  • Starting in 2000, Parklife is a festival held in city parks around Australia in September/October. The one day Parklife festival has become known for its diverse, eclectic and ground-breaking line-ups, bringing an unrivalled array of fresh and experienced international live acts and dj’s to Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth. Depending on the city in which you attend, the number of stages may vary from 3-5, however the main headline acts will still play in every city. 2008 acts include: Goldfrapp, 2ManyDJs, Van She, Soul Wax, Fake Blood and Blackalicious.
  • The Royal Melbourne Show brings country Victoria to Melbourne with a range of agricultural attractions, food & wine, arts & crafts, carnival rides and show bags. It is Melbourne's longest running annual public entertainment event, in operation since 1848.
  • The AFL Grand Final is staged in Melbourne each year and is Australia's largest annual single sporting event, attracting crowds of close to 100,000. The final is traditionally played on the final Saturday in September.
  • Melbourne Fringe celebrates new, independent and innovative art. It runs just before the Melbourne Arts Festival each year.
  • CoastFest Billed as a 'Blues, Roots, World & Folk' festival, CoastFest offers three days of music, dance, creativity and diversity. Held on the shores of Lake Macquarie on the Central New South Wales coast, CoastFest includes: Drum & Fire Dance Circle, an Indigenous space, theatre, visual arts and crafts, children's activities, a healing and environmental area, a Tavern, lots of fantastic Market stalls, art installations and a themed spectacular on Saturday night, plus sailing & canoeing. This not-for-profit event is primarily a music Festival that encourages “non-mainstream” genres, such as Traditional Folk, World Music, Blues and Roots, as well as Alternative, Fusion and Contemporary Acoustic Music. There's a range of a range of cabin and lodge accommodation on offer, plus waterfront, and bush camping. The festival is held each year on the first weekend in September and early bird tickets usually go on-sale in July.
  • During late September and early October, spring heralds the annual Tesselaar Tulip Festival. See more than half-a-million tulip bulbs flowering in riotous colour as you "tip-toe through the tulip fields".
  • Spring in the Valley occurs in the Swan Valley, Perth during September each year.

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October

  • Global Green Challenge - or the World Solar Challenge, a race with solar cars from Darwin to Adelaide, usually during October. The next one is from 24 to 31 October 2009.
  • The Grasshopper Festival is held in Geelong on the first weekend in October each year. A one-day festival, Grasshopper features rock/indie/hip-hop/electro music across three stages. Tickets are generally released in stages and gradually increase in price the closer it is to the event. For those travelling to Grasshopper from Melbourne, a free shuttle bus is usually run from the main Geelong Train Station.
  • Port Fairy Spring Music Festival is held in October each year in the town of Port Fairy, which lies just past Warrnambool. The festival is a unique classical music weekend, presenting music of the great European composers, plus new works by Australian contemporary composers in historical buildings along the ocean. Music theatre, jazz and dance are included in the broad program.
  • Held at Newington Armory in Homebush Bay Sydney, the The Great Escape is a relative new comer to Australia's music festival scene, with the first festival held in 2006. Showcasing pop, rock and mainstream bands, The Great Escape is a two-day 'live-in' event with festival goers camping onsite over the Labour Day weekend (first weekend in October in New South Wales). Tickets usually go on sale online in July.

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November

  • The Spring Racing Carnival is held during spring (October/November), culminating in The Melbourne Cup, which takes place on the first Tuesday in November. It is a public holiday in Melbourne.
  • Queenscliff is a beachside town on the Bellarine Peninsula, about 1.5 hours drive from Melbourne. Held in November, the Queenscliff Music Festival boasts more than 100 artists on 10 stages across 3 days. Tickets usually go on sale in late August/early September.
  • The Red Bull Air Race takes place in November each year on the Swan River. Seating is available on the south bank, but the esplanade makes a reasonable, free viewing platform.
  • The The Great Victorian Bike Ride takes place in late November/ early December each year. With around 4,000 people on bikes it's one of the largest one week cycling holidays in the world. The best way to meet Aussies.

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December

  • Held in early December, Meredith Music Festival is held at the Meredith Supernatural Amphitheatre over 3 days. Meredith is halfway between Geelong and Ballarat on the Midland Highway (A300), about 90 kilometres due west of Melbourne. From Melbourne CBD it'll take you about 2 hours to drive there by car. The first festival was in 1991 and attracted only 250 punters; but by 2007, more than 10,000 people were heading to Meredith.
  • Stereosonic is usually held on the first weekend in December at the Melbourne Showgrounds and showcases the latest and greatest in electro, house, indie dance, electronica, detroit funk, broken tech phunk and uber dance-pop.
  • The Boxing Day Test cricket match heralds the start of a series of test matches held between Australia and a guest nation. It is held at the MCG and lasts up to 5 days, starting on boxing day (26th December).
  • The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race - Even if you're not a yachtsman, this is a spectacular sight. The race starts in Sydney Harbour every year on December 26 around 1:00pm.

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This is version 7. Last edited at 13:06 on May 28, 13 by Sander. 2 articles link to this page.

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