Fill Your Social Calendar with Australia’s Best Festivals

portrait of hotel concierge
15 min May 31st, 2024

Australia's music festival scene

Our music festivals are nothing short of spectacular, offering diverse experiences no matter what is on your playlist. Here’s a glimpse into some of the country’s most celebrated music festivals:

Splendour in the Grass (Byron Bay, July)

If you’re a music enthusiast looking for an unforgettable experience, Splendour in the Grass is the place to be. Set against the breathtaking backdrop of Byron Bay’s hinterland, this iconic festival delivers an electrifying lineup of international headliners and local talents spanning various genres. Whether you’re into indie rock, electronic dance music, hip-hop, or pop, Splendour in the Grass has something to offer everyone. But it’s not just about the music – it’s about immersing yourself in a cultural phenomenon. From mesmerising artistic installations to delectable food options that tantalise your taste buds, Splendour in the Grass is an all-encompassing sensory experience that leaves a lasting impression.

Byron Bay Bluesfest (April)

For those with a penchant for soulful tunes and laid-back vibes, Byron Bay Bluesfest is a must-visit. Held over five days in the picturesque Byron Bay, this festival celebrates the rich tradition of blues, roots, and Americana music. With a stellar lineup of both legendary acts and emerging artists, Byron Bay Bluesfest promises an unforgettable musical journey. Soak up the sun, feel the sand between your toes, and let the soul-stirring melodies wash over you as you surrender to the magic of this coastal paradise.

Ultra Australia (Melbourne & Sydney, April)

If you’re craving an adrenaline-fueled experience that will keep you dancing until the early morning hours, Ultra Australia has got you covered. As one of the world’s premier electronic music festivals, Ultra Australia brings together top-tier DJs from around the globe to deliver an unparalleled auditory and visual spectacle. With multiple stages showcasing various electronic genres, Ultra Australia is a playground for dance music enthusiasts seeking an immersive and exhilarating experience.

Festivals in the culinary scene

Mouthwatering dishes and delectable drinks celebrating the rich diversity of flavours and experiences this country has to offer? Easy! Here are Australia’s best food and wine festivals:

Noosa Eat and Drink Festival (Noosa, May)

Nestled against the stunning backdrop of Noosa, the Noosa Eat and Drink Festival is a gastronomic extravaganza that brings together food lovers from far and wide. Over four days, this festival showcases the best regional Queensland produce through live cooking demonstrations, interactive workshops, and tantalising food and wine pairings. Whether you’re a seasoned foodie or looking to explore new culinary horizons, the Noosa Eat and Drink Festival offers something for everyone.

Wine Machine (Various Wineries, April)

You’ll be strolling through picturesque vineyards, surrounded by lush greenery and bathed in golden sunlight, as you savour the finest wines that Victoria has to offer. That’s precisely what Wine Machine offers – a unique blend of music, wine, and unforgettable experiences set against the backdrop of some of Victoria’s most esteemed wineries. As you groove to live music performances by top artists, you’ll have the opportunity to indulge in wine tastings from renowned wineries, each offering a distinctive flavour profile that reflects the terroir of the region.

The art festivals that are vibrant celebrations of creativity

Want a kaleidoscope of experiences that span the visual, performing, and literary arts? Here are two of the country’s most esteemed art festivals that promise to captivate and inspire:

Adelaide Festival of Arts (Adelaide, March)

Renowned as one of Australia’s most prestigious cultural events, the Adelaide Festival of Arts is a must-visit for anyone passionate about the arts. Each March, the festival transforms Adelaide into a bustling hub of creativity, featuring a diverse program that spans contemporary and traditional art forms. From visual arts and opera to dance, music, theatre, and literature, the festival offers a rich tapestry of artistic experiences. Attendees can immerse themselves in captivating performances by local and international artists, explore thought-provoking exhibitions, and engage with the creative energy permeating the city.

MONA FOMA (Hobart & Launceston, February)

Tasmania’s MONA FOMA, short for Museum of Old and New Art: Festival of Music and Art, is a dynamic celebration of artistic innovation and expression. Held across two locations – the iconic MONA in Hobart and the charming city of Launceston – this two-week festival in February is a feast for the senses. MONA FOMA features an eclectic mix of modern and traditional art forms, including experimental music, immersive visual arts installations, captivating performances, and thought-provoking talks. The festival’s unique blend of art and music attracts a diverse audience, from art aficionados to curious explorers seeking new experiences.

Other standout festivals that you absolutely shouldn't miss

Woodford Folk Festival (Woodford, December)

The Woodford Folk Festival is a six-day celebration of music, dance, comedy, and workshops that brings people together in a spirit of joy and creativity. This family-friendly festival boasts an inclusive atmosphere, perfect for creating lasting memories with loved ones. Attendees can enjoy captivating performances by a diverse lineup of artists, participate in engaging workshops suited for all skill levels, and soak in the vibrant community spirit that defines the festival.

Sydney Mardi Gras (February)

Sydney Mardi Gras is a dazzling celebration of LGBTQIA+ pride, love, diversity, and self-expression that transforms the city into a vibrant carnival of colours and joy. One of the festival’s highlights is the iconic Mardi Gras Parade, where spectacular costumes, elaborate floats, and pulsating music create an unforgettable spectacle. Beyond the parade, the festival features a wide array of events, including parties, performances, and cultural activities that celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community. The infectious energy and joyous atmosphere make Sydney Mardi Gras a must-see event, drawing visitors from around the world to join in the festivities and celebrate love in all its forms.

Vivid Sydney (May-June)

Every year, Vivid Sydney turns the city into a spectacular wonderland of light, music, and ideas. This festival is renowned for its stunning light installations and projections that transform Sydney’s iconic landmarks, including the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, into mesmerising canvases of colour and creativity. Local and international artists come together to create breathtaking displays that captivate audiences and illuminate the night. In addition to the visual spectacles, Vivid Sydney also features an exciting lineup of musical performances and thought-provoking talks, making it a multifaceted festival that stimulates the senses and inspires the imagination.

Melbourne International Comedy Festival (March-April)

Get ready to unleash your laughter at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, one of the world’s largest and most renowned comedy festivals. Over four weeks, the festival showcases a diverse lineup of comedians from around the globe, offering a wide range of hilarious performances that cater to every sense of humour. The festival provides endless entertainment for comedy lovers, from stand-up comedy and sketch shows to improv and satire. The lively atmosphere and the opportunity to see established stars and emerging talents make the Melbourne International Comedy Festival an unmissable event for anyone looking to add a dose of humour to their life.

Australia's festival landscape extends well beyond its major cities

Places like Maitland in New South Wales and Sunshine in Victoria host vibrant festivals celebrating art, culture, and community, providing enriching experiences for locals and visitors alike. Here are some must-visit festivals in these areas:

Maitland, New South Wales

Maitland Riverlights Festival (September)

The Maitland Riverlights Festival is a spectacular celebration that transforms the scenic Maitland River into a striking display of art, light, and culture. This annual event features captivating light installations illuminating the riverbanks, creating a magical atmosphere. The festival’s program includes live music performances from local and national artists, offering various genres to enjoy. Families can participate in various activities to entertain all ages, from interactive art workshops to cultural demonstrations. Food enthusiasts will delight in the array of delicious food stalls, showcasing everything from gourmet treats to international cuisine. The Maitland Riverlights Festival is a vibrant, community-driven event that highlights the region’s rich cultural tapestry and provides a joyful, immersive experience for all who attend.

Sunshine, Victoria

Sunbury Arts Festival (February)

The Sunbury Arts Festival is a celebration of artistic expression that brings together a diverse program of events and activities. Held in the vibrant community of Sunshine, this festival showcases the talents of both local and national artists across a variety of mediums. Visitors can explore captivating visual arts exhibitions, enjoy live music and theatre performances, and watch dynamic dance presentations. The festival also features literary events, where attendees can meet authors and participate in writing workshops. The inclusive nature of the Sunbury Arts Festival encourages creative engagement, making it a perfect event for artists, art lovers, and families looking to explore the cultural richness of the area.

Ballarat International Film Festival (November)

Just a short drive from Sunshine, the Ballarat International Film Festival is a must-visit for cinema enthusiasts. This prestigious festival showcases a diverse range of films from Australia and around the world, including feature films, documentaries, and short films. Screenings are held in various locations across Ballarat, providing an intimate and engaging viewing experience. A highlight of the festival is the opportunity to participate in Q&A sessions with filmmakers and industry professionals, offering unique insights into the art of filmmaking. The Ballarat International Film Festival is an excellent platform for discovering new talent and exploring the global film landscape, making it a significant event for cinephiles and anyone interested in the cinematic arts.

Make it a weekend getaway!

These festivals in Maitland and Sunshine offer a unique glimpse into the rich cultural fabric of these regions. Being part of these events that provide a perfect blend of entertainment, education, and community spirit is time well spent. So, whether you’re a resident or a curious traveller, add these hidden gems to your festival itinerary, stay at our new and conveniently placed Punthill Maitland and Punthill Sunshine hotels, and experience the vibrant cultural life of these wonderful spots.