Australia’s events calendar is brimming with festivals, parties and celebrations all year long. Get into the spirit, there are plenty of good times ahead.
Australia punches well above its weight with some of the biggest and best events in the world. From a midnight fireworks spectacular that is viewed by millions, to some of the top international sporting carnivals, and plenty of music, culture and entertainment in between, it’s clear that Australia is where the party’s at.
SYDNEY NEW YEAR’S EVE
Fireworks off Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney, New South Wales © Scott Barbour\City of Sydney
When: December 31
Sydney’s famous New Year’s Eve fireworks show wows audiences around the globe with its captivating display over the harbour. Throughout the day and well into the evening, the city is buzzing with excitement and entertainment in anticipation of the 9pm family fireworks, followed by the midnight spectacular. The fireworks launch from the Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House and barges around the harbour.
Read more about Sydney
THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN
Australian Open, Melbourne, Victoria © Scott Barbour\City of Sydney
The Australian Open is one of the country’s biggest sporting events, bringing the world’s best players and more than 550,000 spectators to Melbourne Park for two weeks of world-class tennis action. The vibrant and lively atmosphere reaches far beyond the court, with matches broadcast in and around the city on big screens, festive beer gardens, pubs and live music.
Read more about Melbourne
Adelaide Fringe, Adelaide, South Australia © Josie Withers Photography, South Australian Tourism Commission
When: February – March
Adelaide Fringe is the biggest arts festival in the Southern Hemisphere, showcasing a variety of events including comedy, cabaret, theatre, music, visual arts, circus and much more. Known as ‘The People’s Festival’, the annual event is a celebration of all art forms. Anyone can register a show, so you’re bound to come across truly unique, quirky and fascinating acts.
Read more about Adelaide
Floriade, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory © Russell Charters, Visit Canberra
When: September – October
Every spring, the nation’s capital bursts into colour with more than one million blooms on display for Floriade, the largest flower festival in the Southern Hemisphere. The month-long event mainly takes place in Commonwealth Park, where you’ll find an exciting program of music, entertainment, horticulture workshops and plenty of festivities.
Read more about Canberra
MONA FOMA, Hobart, Tasmania © Tourism Tasmania
Where: Hobart and Launceston
Held over two consecutive weekends, first in Hobart then in Launceston, Mona Foma is Tasmania’s summer festival celebrating music, art and culture. It’s a collaboration with the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), so expect an eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary genres, and a lively atmosphere charged with curiosity and creativity.
Read more about Hobart
NOOSA EAT AND DRINK FESTIVAL
Noosa Eat & Drink Festival, Noosa, Queensland © Tourism Noosa
The Noosa Eat & Drink Festival brings together some of the country’s most renowned culinary talent and foodies from all over to celebrate all things food and drink. Set against the idyllic tropical backdrop of Noosa, you’ll find everything from live cooking demonstrations and festive feasts, to beach parties and plenty of tastings and entertainment along the way.
Read more about Noosa
Parrtjima, Alice Springs, Northern Territory © James Horan Photography, Tourism NT
Where: Alice Springs
Every autumn, the remote outback town of Alice Springs is lit up in an array of colour, light and art during Parrtjima – A Festival in Light. As Australia’s only Aboriginal-dedicated event, the festival celebrates the world’s oldest continuous living culture with spectacular light installations, interactive workshops, talks, films, live music and entertainment. Festivities take place over 10 nights and the main events are free.
Read more about Alice Springs
SYDNEY MARDI GRAS
Sydney Mardi Gras, Sydney, New South Wales © James Horan, Destination NSW
Over three weeks, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras transforms the city into a rainbow of pride, love and peaceful protest in the lead up to its famous annual parade. Thousands gather along Oxford Street to watch LGBTQIA+ groups dazzle their way down one of Sydney’s busiest streets with dance, music and spectacular floats.
Read more about LGBTQIA+ nightlife in Australia
MELBOURNE CUP CARNIVAL
Melbourne Cup Carnival, Melbourne, Victoria © 2017 Getty Images, Victorian Racing Club
Encompassing fashion, food, festivities and, of course, horse racing, Melbourne Cup Carnival has the whole nation pulsing with excitement. For more than a week, there are plenty of parties, parades, special events and four unique race days, including the famous Melbourne Cup Day on the first Tuesday of November.
Read more about Melbourne
12 Australian sports events worth travelling for
HAMILTON ISLAND RACE WEEK
Hamilton Island Race Week, Hamilton Island, Queensland © Andrea Francolini
Where: Hamilton Island
Hamilton Island Race Week hosts around 250 yachts from around the world in Australia’s largest sailing regatta. On shore, the festival program boasts an incredible line-up of fashion events, glamorous champagne lunches and cocktail parties under starry skies at some of the island’s most prestigious resorts. All this and much more set against the sparkling Whitsundays backdrop of azure waters and endless sunny blue skies.
Read more about Hamilton Island
Vivid Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales © Destination NSW
When: May – June
Sydney puts on quite a show when it plays host to the world’s biggest festival of light, music and ideas, known as Vivid Sydney. Visitors from all over the world descend upon the city during this three-week winter festival to immerse themselves in light installations and projections on some of the city’s most iconic landmarks. There are also night markets, street performances, music concerts and an inspiring Ideas program featuring some of the most brilliant creative minds of our time.