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Celebrate summer the right way in Australia, and head to one of these top-notch festivals or all-night parties.
If there’s one thing Australians know how to do, it’s throw an unforgettable party. Stretching from Sydney to Tasmania, here are ten of the best summer festivals and parties to visit in Australia, featuring award-winning art, international musicians and the quintessential bush doof.
Lost Paradise calls itself “one part boutique festival, one part doof, one huge party.” The annual summer festival is held at Glenworth Valley, which is about an hour’s drive north of Sydney. Running for four days over New Year’s Eve, the 2018/19 lineup includes Australian and international acts like M.I.A., The Kooks and Tash Sultana. There’s glamping accommodation available and experiences that include yoga classes, workshops and the Lost Library. Lost Paradise says it’s a feast for the senses, so prepare for an experience like no other.
Held 1.5 hours from Sydney, Secret Garden is a 48-hour forest disco. Intrigued? Secret Garden includes a whimsical combination of music, dance, performance art and interactive theatre. The best part is that, by attending this party in late February, you can help the community, as profits are shared with a number of charities. Secret Garden has also been called the best fancy dress party in the Southern Hemisphere. While Friday’s theme is announced prior to the event, Saturday is a fancy dress free-for-all. There’s also a range of foodie options available and free camping.
Hobart’s MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) is known for its eclectic, contemporary and thought-provoking exhibitions. Its Festival of Music and Art (which is often shortened further to MOFO) is held every January and curated by Brian Ritchie, Violent Femmes’ bass guitarist. The festival showcases artists in all forms, whether they specialise in music, dance, visual art or performing arts. Previous music acts have included Gotye, PJ Harvey, and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Dark MOFO is the winter version of the festival and features a similar program of events. MOFO will relocate to Launceston in 2019.
Welcome in the New Year at Field Day, which is held every New Year’s Day at Sydney’s Domain. Since its inception in 2002, Field Day has specialised in bringing Sydneysiders the best party music, which includes a mix of electronic, indie and hip hop acts. The 2019 lineup may be the best yet, as it features renowned musicians Cardi B, Flight Facilities and Rüfüs du Sol. So, celebrate summer and a new year beginning at the best New Year’s Day party in Sydney.
Spend your summer partying and celebrating Australia’s biggest city at Sydney Festival. Running for over two weeks in January, Sydney Festival says its program is a diverse kaleidoscope “from jaw-dropping contemporary ballet to epic art installations, primal circus, (and) modern Indigenous art and theatre.” Sydney Festival’s inclusive programming, which includes both free and ticketed events, has defined the city for over three decades. Featured headliners have included Sir Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett and Grace Jones.
St Kilda Festival is Australia’s biggest free celebration every summer. Backdropped by the St Kilda foreshore, it showcases the best Australian and international music acts over one epic day. Held every year on the second Sunday in February, it on average attracts over 400,000 people and has been running for an incredible 38 years. There’s a Kid Zone, along with other activities and Luna Park on its doorstep. In 2018, the St Kilda Festival lineup included Architecture in Helsinki, Dan Sultan and The Jezabels.
One of the most well-known festivals held in Australia every summer, the multiple award-winning Falls Festival is in its 26th year. The multi-day and simultaneous New Year’s festival now includes four locations: Marion Bay in Tasmania, Lorne in Victoria, New South Wales’ Byron Bay and Fremantle in Western Australia. The musicians performing at Falls cover various genres, like hip hop, blues, indie and electronic. For example, the 2018/19 lineup features Hilltop Hoods, Vance Joy and Chvrches. The festival also includes other comedic, dance and theatre performances.
In its 33rd year, the Woodford Folk Festival runs from 27 December for six days and nights. More than 2,000 artists and musicians perform for over 130,000 people. The program at Woodford Folk Festival includes an overwhelming stream of concerts, theatre performances, panels, art workshops and late-night cabarets. It’s also known for its interesting installations. The festival proudly attracts a range of people, from young families to retirees. Kids have just as much fun as parents at Woodford Folk Festival.
White Night is the free all-night summer party that literally shuts down Melbourne’s city streets. Held from 7pm until 7am one February night every year, Melbourne comes alive with bright and interactive light installations everywhere you look, including on Melbourne’s most iconic buildings, in laneways and at parklands. There are also exhibitions, street performances, films and music acts. It’s the best time of year to be a night owl, as there are fewer crowds in the early morning.
Rainbow Serpent celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2018. The festival attracts over 10,000 visitors annually and is held over a long weekend in January. It’s located in Lexton, which is about a two-hour drive from Melbourne. In Aboriginal Dreamtime stories, the Rainbow Serpent is known as a creator god. The festival was once predominantly known for its electronic music. Today, it includes musicians from around the world and from all genres, as well as a full artistic program. The Village is home to workshops, presentations and healing sessions, and the bazaar overflows with food and market stalls.