Australia knows how to put on a memorable festival and Australians have so much to celebrate – delicious food, great music, internationally-recognised art and a penchant for a good time. The long list of festivals around the country is almost endless, and it’s an exciting prospect to circumnavigate the country to experience as many as possible. Here are five top Australian festivals you should think about attending in your lifetime.
Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Laughter is the best medicine and what better way to get a healthy dose than at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. This four-week festival takes over Australia’s comedy capital from March to April, lending the stage light to an exhaustive program of over 450 shows across countless venues. Punters are spoilt for choice, from famous comedy acts from around the world to the industry’s emerging talent. The dilemma is choosing which shows to see! Tickets can be purchased in advance or throughout the festival (unless sold out) and some shows offer cheaper tickets towards the end of their run. Comedy shows suit a wide variety of ages and tastes, and the festival also hosts a kids program. If you’re a die-hard comedy fan, then head to The Hi-Fi Bar for The Festival Club where unexpected acts perform every night of the festival into the wee hours of the morning.
Botanic Park in inner-city Adelaide blooms every March during WOMAdelaide – The World’s Festival. Founded by Peter Gabriel in 1982, WOMAdelaide boasts a long history of celebrating traditional and contemporary world music, dance and DJs. This four-day annual festival brings visitors and families of all ages together for a diverse program of music, dance, visual art, street theatre, stalls and workshops. WOMAdelaide is just as famous for its friendly atmosphere; children under 12 can gain free entry when accompanied by an adult and there’s also a KidZone offering fun and free activities for the littlies.
On Christmas Eve in 1974, Cyclone Tracey ripped through Darwin and caused mass devastation. Darwin was determined to rebuild itself and in 1977 Northern Territory’s Director of Health Dr Charles Gurd suggested for the city to host a festival that would bring the community closer together. Forty years on and Darwin Festival is as vibrant and creative as ever; celebrating the diversity and cultural richness of Australia’s top-end tropical city. Darwin energises across an 18-day multi-faceted program encompassing the city’s music, dance, visual art, theatre and the unique, creative voices of its city-folk. Festival Park and a handful of venues around Darwin host free performances and festival-goers experience local food stalls as well as a proud city that’s brimming with festive spirit.
Splendour in the Grass
Eager music fans descend on the lush landscapes of North Byron Parklands, north of Byron Bay on the New South Wales coast, for Splendour in the Grass in July each year. Splendour in the Grass hosts an extensive timetable of incredible live acts to and from around Australia as part of three days of world-class music, coastal camping and feel-good spirited fun. Sip on copious amounts of chai tea to keep warm and eat loads of local food-stall produce all while rocking out to bands under the stars. Arrive to the region early or stay on for a couple of days post-Splendour to explore neighbouring towns such as Brunswick Heads, Ballina and Nimbin.
From May each year, all lights shine on Vivid Sydney. Across its unique 18-day program, Vivid Sydney celebrates all that is mesmerising and magical about light, music and ideas; the biggest art festival of its ilk in the southern hemisphere. At Vivid Sydney, visitors experience the wonder of outdoor lighting installations and sculptures across public exhibition spaces along Sydney Harbour. A contemporary music program features favourably as part of Vivid Sydney, and some of Sydney’s iconic locations are illuminated for the festival. Over 100 artists from around the world gravitate here to bring their grand-scale art to the masses at this family-friendly and free event. There’s also a Vivid Ideas calendar where visitors can sit in on talks across a range of topics from culture to technology, business and community.
Do you think we have missed any top Australian festivals in our list? Tell us in the comments