Australia certainly knows how to throw a celebration, and throughout the country there are countless festivals and events to attend all year round. Many such as Tropfest, the AFL Grand Final and the Perth International Arts Festival have grown to epitomise the very culture of Australia. Here are eight must-visit festivals and events.
Founded in 1993, Tropfest is the largest short film festival in the world, attracting more than 70,000 spectators, with thousands more watching live broadcasts. Presented in Sydney at Parramatta Park, the grassroots event includes the screening of 16 finalists as well as red-carpet arrivals and an awards ceremony where the Tropfest winner is decided by a panel of industry and celebrity judges. Past panelists have included Cate Blanchett, Baz Luhrmann and Geoffrey Rush.
Melbourne Food and Wine Festival
A gastronomic celebration of Victoria’s world-class food and wine industry, the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival is held annually in March. The delicious 10-day program includes 300 events throughout Victoria where foodies can sample gourmet fare, indulge in regional long lunches, attend masterclasses and gorge themselves at pop-up restaurants. The festival also attracts celebrity chefs and personalities, including Nigella Lawson, Heston Blumenthal and Maggie Beer.
Perth International Arts Festival
Making its debut back in 1953, the Perth International Arts Festival is Australia’s longest running international arts festival and Western Australia’s foremost cultural event attracting 500,000 people each year. Taking place over three weeks throughout February and March, PIAF encompasses visual arts, street arts, contemporary and classical music, dance, theatre and family events across a variety of venues.
Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras
Evolving out of a series of pride marches held in the late seventies, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is now Australia’s largest LGBTQIA + celebration and one the largest of its kind in the world. The vibrant two-week festival features the world-famous Mardi Gras Parade, Mardi Gras Party, Comedy Festival, Film Festival, Pool Party and the family-friendly Fair Day which attracts 70,000 people.
AFL Grand Final
Australia plays host to a myriad of world-class sporting events, but if there’s one you attend, make sure it’s the AFL Grand Final. Founded in 1896 as a way to keep cricketers fit during winter, the Victorian Football Club which was renamed the Australian Football League in 1990 has 18 teams hailing from all over Australia. Each year on the last Saturday in September or the first Saturday in October, the two grand finalists compete at the Melbourne Cricket Ground to become the Premiership champions.
Introduced in 1992 as a part of the Adelaide Festival, WOMADelaide (World Of Music, Arts and Dance) promotes multiculturalism and environmental awareness through a showcase of world music. Set in Adelaide’s Botanic Park, across seven stages, the four-day music festival takes place in March and typically features up to 500 artists from around the world. Other program highlights include The Planet Talks, Taste the World, KidZone, the Electrolounge and the Global Village.
Emerging from the devastation caused by Cyclone Tracy in 1974, the Darwin Festival was first held in 1979 as a way of celebrating the cities resurgence. Australia’s northern-most festival is held over 18 days and nights in August and features outdoor concerts, dance music, theatrical performances, comedy and cabaret, workshops, films and visual arts.
Woodford Folk Festival
Utterly eccentric, The Woodford Folk Festival is Australia’s most celebrated folk music festival drawing more than 2000 local, national and international performers each year. Located 72 kilometres north of Brisbane, the festival takes place over six days across the New Year’s culminating with a sensational fire event on New Year’s Day. Devoted to environmentalism and diversity, the program features more than 430 events including concerts, street theatre, writers’ panels, debates, folk medicine, films, craft workshops and parades.