So you’re headed down under eh? Get ready for some insane wildlife, beautiful beaches, and bustling cities! The country is huge in size and since it usually takes a day and 1/2 to get there from anywhere other than Bali, or New Zealand, you might as well take some time to explore the country and experience as much of the culture as you can… and one of the best ways to do that is celebrating with the locals at one of their many festivals.
Australia is a land of many different types of festivals and celebrations, from music festivals to food festivals; there is always something going on. Celebrating the world’s oldest known civilization to honoring the Aboriginals, Australia has a rich and diverse culture that is reflected in its many festivals.
Festivals in Australia
Whether you’re into music, food, or just fun in general, there are plenty of festivals happening all around the country.
From celebrating all things Australia to world-famous musicians. This list of Festivals is sure to have something for you.
- When: January
- Where: All over Australia
Australia Day might be the most celebrated day in all of Australia! This national holiday takes place on January 26th and marks the 1788 arrival of the first fleet of British ships in Sydney Cove, as well as celebrating everything that makes Australia unique. Many cities have huge celebrations with parades, fireworks, parties, etc., and it’s also a great time to spend some time outside enjoying the warm sunny weather!
While you can celebrate Australia Day anywhere in the country, some of the biggest celebrations take place in Sydney. The city hosts one of the largest Australia Day festivals, featuring live music, delicious food from all over the country, and really fun activities for people of all ages.
It is important to also keep in mind that this is a day of mourning for the indigenous Australians, and is often referred to as invasion day so be sensitive to the fact that this event might hold a different meaning for them and respect their experience and culture as well.
Where to Stay:
This well-located hotel is perfect for being right in the heart of all the Australia Day celebrations and having easy access to all the activities in Sydney. The location is also great if you’re spending a bit of time exploring Sydney while you’re down under and it won’t break the bank. Try to get one on one of the higher floors to experience all of the fireworks!
Sydney Mardi Gras
- When: February
- Where: Sydney
If you’re looking for something a little more wild and festive, then the Sydney Mardi Gras is definitely the festival for you! This huge celebration of LGBTQIA+ culture is famous around the world as one of the biggest gay pride events in all of Australia. The party starts early with a whole week’s worth of celebrations leading up to the main parade and street party, which features live music, performers, food stalls, and of course lots and lots of dancing!
While you’ll find Mardi Gras celebrations happening all over Sydney and Australia in general, it’s definitely worth making your way to the streets of Oxford St in Darlinghurst. This is where all the action takes place and where you can experience the community spirit of the event, which is one of the most important parts.
People from all over the world come to Sydney for Mardi Gras, and it’s a great way to engage with others who are also celebrating LGBTQIA+ rights.
Where to Stay:
This modern hotel will have you sorted perfectly for your Sydney Mardi Gras experience. From the great location in the CBD, to the funky and modern hotel decor, to the in-hotel bar that’ll have you mingling with fellow partiers all night long, this is an ideal place to stay while you’re celebrating queer pride!
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- When: March
- Where: Sydney & Melbourne
If you’re looking for something a little more upbeat and electronic, then the Ultra Music Festival in Sydney or Melbourne is what you need. This worldwide event features some of the biggest names in electronic music, with 3 days of non-stop beats and incredible visuals to keep you entertained. It’s definitely not one to miss if you love EDM! GA starts at $160 and goes all the way up to $300 for VIP.
With so many artists and DJs, you’ll find stages set up all over the course with plenty of viewing space for everyone. And if you need a little break from dancing, there are loads of food and drink stalls available to keep you fueled throughout the festival.
I personally recommend the Melbourne leg of the festival because they’ve got a stage dedicated to Australia’s upcoming DJs, so you’ll get a real taste of local talent.
Where to Stay:
This well-located Selina hostel is the perfect place to stay in Melbourne during Ultra; it is close to the arena and has a fun, social atmosphere that will make you feel right at home. And if the price of the tickets really dug deep into your budget, this is a great place to stay as they have plenty of dorm beds for those on a smaller budget.
- When: March
- Where: Melbourne
Most definitely the funniest festival you’ll find in all of Australia, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival is an event not to be missed if you love to laugh… and if you don’t love to laugh, well then maybe you should go to a doctor. With hundreds of comedians from around the world performing live stand-up and improv shows, you will find yourself in tears regardless of what shows you see.
This festival lasts for over a month from the end of March to the end of April so you will have the opportunity to catch a hilarious show almost every night. The shows take place all over the city, from tiny comedy clubs to larger theaters and outdoor venues.
You can also check out the street performers who take over Bourke Street Mall for a fun afternoon of laughter. The best way to know who is performing where is to check out the website, as they feature all of the shows and performers.
Where to Stay:
Melbourne is not cheap, especially during festivals and events, so staying somewhere like this cozy St Kilda studio Airbnb is a great option. Located just a short walk from all of the best restaurants and shops in town, this cozy studio apartment is perfect for those traveling on a budget with a longer stay in mind.
With an ensuite bathroom, a fully equipped kitchenette, and free Wi-Fi, you will have everything you need, and it is under $1,000 for the full month.
- When: April
- Where: Alice Springs, Northern Territory
Parrtijma is one of the most important festivals in Australia if you want to get a taste of Indigenous culture and traditions. Taking place in Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, this annual festival celebrates native art, music, dancing, food, and language. You’ll find traditional performances by local Indigenous artists as well as special workshops where you can learn more about the history and heritage of Aboriginal Australians.
The festival is 10 nights in the Red Centre and every night new and exciting light displays and performances are held. This yearly event is a celebration of how artists grow and explore new techniques and mediums, all while staying connected to their roots and it is free for all to join.
Whether you’re a visitor or a local, this is an event that everyone in the community can enjoy. This is a great way to support the indigenous community and promote positive cultural change while having a whole lot of fun at the same time. Parrtijma is the perfect way to learn more about Indigenous culture while traveling in Australia and make lifelong memories.
Where to Stay:
Located right at the heart of the festival grounds, there are a few caravan campgrounds but I recommend the beautiful Erldunda Roadhouse. With plenty of space for pitching tents or parking RVs, as well as shared bathrooms and showers, this is a great option for those traveling on a budget. And with plenty of food vendors and live entertainment right outside your tent, you won’t even feel like you’re camping.
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- When: May
- Where: Sydney
There is no other way to describe Vivid Sydney other than “vivid”. This is one of the most iconic and exciting festivals in Australia, featuring thousands of lights and incredible visual displays throughout the city. It is amazing to watch the city of Sydney come alive with beautiful colors, sounds, and shapes, as the buildings transform into giant works of art.
You’ll find light installations set up in major landmarks like the Sydney Opera House, Darling Harbour, and Royal Botanic Garden, as well as smaller art museums and galleries around town. There are also plenty of special performances and musical events to enjoy, from live music concerts to classical performances and even outdoor cinema screenings.
As one of the biggest festivals in Australia, Vivid Sydney draws thousands of visitors from around the world every year from the end of May all the way until the end of June. Prices vary depending on which shows and acts intrigue you the most, but there are plenty of free events that you can check out as well.
Where to Stay:
Location! Location! Location! YEHS Hotel Sydney Harbour Suites is located right in the heart of downtown Sydney, and close to so many art exhibits, which is perfect for VIVID Sydney.
- When: July
- Where: North Byron Parklands
Byron is known as a laid-back beach town, but every year in July, Splendor in the Grass turns this little town into a music festival hotspot. This popular music festival in Australia brings together some of the biggest names in pop, rock, and indie music from around the world for three days of non-stop dancing and singing.
For so many people this is their favorite festival in Australia. The North Byron Parklands is a beautiful park in the countryside outside the town of Byron, and it makes for the perfect setting for this festival. You’ll love camping out at one of the on-site campgrounds and rocking out to incredible live music acts as you explore all of the different stages at Splendor in the Grass.
For the full three days, you are looking at a hefty 400 Aussie dollar price tag but trust us when we say that it’s worth every penny. With a lineup of top musicians like The Gorillaz, The Strokes, Tyler the Creator, and more, this is one festival you won’t want to miss. Put on your best festival outfit, stand out, be weird, and embrace every minute of this amazing musical experience.
Where to Stay:
Due to the floods in Byron, the official campgrounds have closed for the upcoming event but thankfully Byron Events Farm has offered up its campground to festival-goers. Byron Events Farm is located just a short drive from the parklands and offers a convenient and affordable place to rest your head after an incredible day of music, dancing, and exploring.
- When: November
- Where: Tocumwal, Australia
Since 2009, Strawberry Fields has been one of the most popular music and arts festivals in Australia, attracting thousands of visitors from around the country every year. Taking place on a picturesque farm in Tocumwal, this festival is all about celebrating nature, good vibes, and great music. While there are plenty of big-name artists playing at this event, what really sets Strawberry Fields apart is the amazing community that comes together to make it happen.
What once started as a festival with less than 500 attendees has now been voted as one of the top 10 festivals in the world. Now bringing in over 10,000 guests who come together as a giant family to rejoice for four days straight to live music, exquisite art, and wild river swimming in one of Australia’s most picturesque natural locations for Strawberry Fields. The event is $250 and this includes your camping for 3 nights, but don’t worry, it is definitely money well spent.
Something important to know is that this festival takes place on the Yorta Yorta nations land and all who enter are guests and should treat the land and area with the utmost respect.
Where to Stay:
Located just a short walk from the festival grounds, Strawberry Fields Campgrounds is the perfect place to stay for anyone attending this amazing music and arts festival in Australia. With clean toilets, hot showers, and plenty of space for your festival tent or camper van, you’ll be able to rest and relax in style after a long day of dancing, socializing, and exploring.
*If you don’t have a proper tent or your group is quite big, consider renting one from WOW tents. It will make your life so much easier and you can really focus on enjoying the festival.
- When: December
- Where: Woodford, 72 KM from Brisbane
End the year and start the new one at one of the biggest cultural events in Australia, the Woodford Folk Festival is a six-day extravaganza of music, art, comedy, and more. Featuring around 2000 acts from all over the world, this festival is the perfect place to come together with friends and family to celebrate our shared humanity. Whether you’re into folk music, local acoustic artists, or comedians making you laugh until you cry, Woodford has something for everyone.
If you could choose only one festival in Aussie to go to all year, Woodford Folk Festival is it. From December 27th to January 1st, you can spend your days listening to live music by incredible artists or lounging on the grass as you watch magical performances unfold right before your eyes.
Camping out under the stars or splurging on a luxury hotel nearby, this festival has got everything you need to ring in the new year right.
Where to Stay:
Operating on a first come first serve basis, the Woodford Folk Campgrounds are a great place to set up your tent or camper van. You will have access to all the basic amenities, like clean showers and toilets, as well as plenty of space for you and your fellow festival-goers. Keep in mind these are not powered sites.
From camping under the stars at Strawberry fields, or watching VIVID take over Sydney from your bedroom window, there are endless ways to celebrate life and all the wonderful things it has to offer here in Australia.
While I know it is probably impossible to go to every single festival here, I definitely encourage you to check out one of these amazing events and discover the magic that is Australian culture!? And if you can only make one, Woodford Folk Festival is an all-time favorite and really brings a beautiful closing to whatever type of year you had.
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Bye for now, but not forever!
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