Festivals for All Australian Seasons
Recommended Events Throughout the Year
by Ken Jenie
It seems like there is always something to celebrate in Australia. From fashion, food, and films, to music, art and science – Australia is full of festivals and celebrations, and with the great outdoors just a few kilometers away from the city centers, many festivals are located in the beautiful countryside under the stars or if not, inside the city centers where the building walls and parks are decorated in celebration.
Let’s take a look at some of the best festivals in Australia throughout the seasons.
Winter (June – August)
One of the most interesting and unique festivals to ever come out of Tasmania. Dark Mofo is held by the famous Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) that is located in its own private island near the coast of Hobart, but the festival is spread all over the city, lighting it up to celebrate the coming of winter. The festival focuses on contemporary art, and as the name suggest – it always has a dark theme to it. The Dark Mofo celebrates ancient and contemporary mythologies, birth and death. Fire and laser lights are always present in this festival. Attracting over 150,000 people every year, this festival features a number of large-scale public artworks, good music, art and food in the middle of the dark, stygian Hobart nights. Iconic events include: Dark Mofo Winter Feast, ceremonial death dance called Blacklist and the annual Dark Mofo Nude Solstive Swim. Experience the MONA and the country’s vibrant art scene by planning your visit to Australia.
Melbourne International Film Festival
Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) is an annual film festival held over three weeks in Melbourne. The MIFF host a diverse range of films from over 50 countries for three weeks each winter. This is a time where you’ll see plenty of red carpet galas, parties and special events in the city of Melbourne. Screening the best in world cinema, MIFF showcases international and Australian films. MIFF celebrates its 64th anniversary this year, making it one of the oldest film festivals in the world (one year younger than Cannes). Explore the world of cinema, in the beautiful theatres around Melbourne city.
This is a great time to visit the forever tropical city of Darwin. Find yourself dancing, singing and enjoying local treats in the warm Darwin air. The festival focuses towards celebrating multiculturalism and community arts. For an exciting 18 days and nights, the city of Darwin lights up to celebrate with local and international performances and events including workshops, outdoor concerts, theater, dance music, cabaret, comedy film and visual arts.
Spring (September – November)
Discover the great Australian Outback in the Outback Festival. Normally attended by families, there is absolutely plenty to do in this event. Besides being able to spend time in outside of the hustle and bustle of Australian cities, the Outback Festival is also a great way to mingle with the locals. From live bands, to testing your strength and endurance in the famous iron man competition. There are competitions for kids too, and of course plenty of chance to try the good old Australian barbeque. Make sure you bring plenty of sun block and always keep your hat on. The Outback is a harsh but beautiful place. To experience the Outback and more of Australia’s natural beauty, do make your plans to visit the land down under.
Two words: absolutely beautiful. Floriade is Australia’s biggest spring celebration. Iconic to its capital city, Canberra, it showcases one million flowers in bloom through out the city’s Commonwealth Park. As part of the festival, Floriade’s NightFest is an amazing experience that takes you into an illuminated wonderland to offer an after-dark experience like no other. You can simply choose to mingle in the night markets bathed in colorful light, or attend great performances by local comedians and DJs.
The city of Adelaide celebrates its multiculturalism through the OzAsia Festival. Bridging the cultural gap between Adelaide and Asia, this festival has plenty of events ranging from food markets, workshops, theatre, musical performance and more. Those who attend will have hands-on experience and have the chance to learn more about different cultures. Usually the festival changes its theme and focus each year. Last year it focused on China. This event is both fun and very educational, moreover, this is a great way to look at Australia’s diversity.
Summer (December – February)
Taste of Tasmania
Feast on the waterfront, in one of Australia’s biggest food festivals. Tasmania is famous for their top quality seafood, and mouth-watering dishes such as slow-cooked wallaby burritos to fresh oysters dressed with shallots, pernord, tarragon and olive oil. There is always something new to try, and they are all cooked on the spot, which means it’s fresh and authentic. Don’t forget to try traditional dishes such as the scallop pie and fish and chips. To wash all that down make sure you enjoy Tasmania’s cool-climate wine, ciders, peat-distilled whisky and craft beer by local brewers. Don’t forget to pace yourself, take a break from the epic feast and explore the surrounding harbor areas, near the historic Salamanca Place.
One of the finest ways to welcome the New Year. Falls festival boasts intimate surroundings of absolute beauty where art and music from around the world come together. The festival is normally held on the 29th of December to the 1st of January in three different locations, each beautiful in its own ways: Otwa Rainforest near Lorne, Victoria, Marion Bay in Tasmania, and Byron Bay in New South Wales. Popular amongst the young adults, events in the festival include camping, arts, comedy, and over 80 international music acts. This is a great way to embrace the New Year: with good company, good atmosphere, and a selection of artists such as: Alt J, Bluejuice, Cold War Kids, Joey Badass, Jamie XX, Temper Trap and more.
A one night only event that turns Melbourne into a magical city, White Night has attracted over half a million people last year. From dusk till dawn, Melbourne’s CBD was transformed into an incandescent landscape of video projections, film, music and installation art. A creative playground open for anyone, you can have groups of people dancing in the streets where artists perform, famous museums and galleries opening for the entire night, offering free film screenings, tours and special performances. On this one night, you can’t help to feel that you’ve fallen into the same rabbit hole as Alice. The atmosphere is bright and cheerful, there are countless of events to attend. Make sure you plan your night right because it’s impossible to attend absolutely everything. Make sure you aren’t afraid to get lost because this is a great night to explore every alleyway and every corner of the city. White Night is an event that everyone should experience, so make sure to plan your visit to Australia to get the most out of this one-night event.
Fall (March – May)
Byron Bay Bluesfest
Started in 1990, this 5-day festival is held in the beautiful region of Tyagarah, new Byron Bay, New South Wales. It features a large selection of blues and roots performers both local and international such as; Lenny Kravitz, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Jurassic 5, Keb Mo, The Black Keys and John Mayall just to name a few. Attracting over 20,000 people, you should consider yourself lucky when you manage to buy yourself a ticket to this festival where you can enjoy the blues under the Australian sky.
Australia is a festive country, with more than 100 festivals going on nation wide, all season long, there is no reason why you shouldn’t attend any of them. All are unique and celebrates different things, a good look at Australia’s multiculturalism and appreciation for the arts.
This is easily one of the most popular camping music festivals in the whole of Australia. Golden Plains place you in a beautiful valley where the grass is green and the sunsets are parallel to your computer wallpapers. This 3-day festival welcomes families and young adults alike to camp in a beautiful open-air setting just 90 km from Melbourne, between Geelong and Ballarat. It’s a festival with a few rules; “no glass, no gas bottles, no dickheads.” You can however, bring your own drinks for this party under the sun and stars with the 10,000 new friends you’re going to make. International and local acts is no stranger to this festival, names like Public Enemy, the Meanies, Flying Lotus, Chet Faker, Hiatus Kayote, and The Village People have all performed in the legendary Golden Plains.
Melbourne International Comedy Festival
This festival has been held in Melbourne for over 29 years. This is that time of the year when just about every funny person in the world comes to Melbourne to share the best laugh of their lives. In the span of one week, there are about 550 shows in 145 venues by over 3,000 comedians from all over the world, from amateurs to veterans in the funny business. Comedians like Ross Noble, Arj Barker, Gabriel Iglesias, and Russell Peters have all perform at this festival.
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