Australia is full of surprises. Dive into the oldest culture on earth, and you’re listening to Aboriginal stories of the Dreamtime. Head to the Gold Coast and you’ve got the most glorious beaches in the world. Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Canberra are diverse, joyful, and energetic. Here is even better travel news: There are festivals across the entire continent. Take a break from the winter cold in North America, and you’ll luxuriate in warm weather in the Southern Hemisphere. Most of our favorite events, below, are held annually but there are a few notable exceptions.
Take a break from the winter cold in North America, and you’ll luxuriate in warm weather in the Southern Hemisphere. Most of our favorite events, below, are held annually but there are a few notable exceptions.
The National Multicultural Event
Held in Canberra, the capital of Australia, this event has been held since 1981. This free community event began as a one-day affair on Australia Day and hosted by the ACT Ethnic Communities Council. It is held every February and brings together 170 nationalities. It is a bouquet of sights, sounds, joy, dance, music, colors, scents, and local food. Enjoy!
Australian Heritage Festival
This festival is known as Australia’s largest heritage event, featuring more than 150 free and ticketed events. Activities include exhibitions, walking tours, films, talks by local experts, foodie fairs, workshops, tours of historical sites, Indigenous ceremonies, demonstrations, and special meals. Every year, there is a different theme; they have included “Sharing Stories” and “Curiosity.”
Awakening a sense of place and belonging, the festival has opportunities for diverse voices to share and build connections about their cultural, natural, and historic heritage. This festival occurs around Sydney.
The Adelaide Fringe
Occurring for almost 4 weeks in Australia’s fall, the Adelaide Fringe works its magic in greater South Australia. It stretches from up in Whyalla down to Mount Gambier. It is, without doubt, Australia’s largest arts festival. Events include cabaret, theater, comedy, circus arts, music, visual arts, and workshops. The Fringe is made up of 6,000 independent artists that fill more than 300 venues across South Australia, putting on over 1,200 shows. Let your imagination off the leash.
Australian International Airshow
Head to Avalon Airport, Victoria, in March for the grandest airshow in the Southern Hemisphere. This spectacular three-day aviation event kicks off on Friday with their famous Night Alight Show, featuring night-time flying aerobatics, a laser show, fireworks, and the thrilling Wall of Fire. Both Saturday and Sunday feature air displays from thundering jet fighters and heavy-lift giants.
There is also plenty to see and do! You can walk through modern and historic aircraft, check out classic cars, and watch intense drone races. Be amazed by the skills of trained military dogs, explore the Tech Zone’s STEM related activities (virtual reality experiences), and the Kids Zone with a temperature-controlled facility and fun aviation activities. The Airshow is held in odd-numbered years.
Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe, Western Australia
© sculpturebythesea.com. Merle Topsi Davis.’Sea Anomalies 3′, Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe 2022. Photo Martine Perret
Held in March, this exhibition features 70 artists from 15 countries. All artworks are installed from the sea wall along the sand to North Cottesloe, Perth. Some works defy gravity, others are huge, and the Seaview Golf Club showcases small sculptures. This is a marvelous chance to purchase sculptures from Australian artists. It is also an ideal place to watch the sunset paint white sand beaches orange and pink.
Canberra Balloon Spectacular
Held in March every year, hot air balloons float over the capital city at the Enlighten Festival. The skyline becomes a panorama of color, movement, and joyous surprises. The design on each balloon is unique. Balloons lift off at dawn—this is the best time to see them fill, rise up, and hear the whoosh as they rise. Attend the event for free. If you want to go up in a balloon, purchase a ticket. As with all balloon flights, they are dependent on clear weather. Passenger flights are 45 minutes and conclude with a champagne celebration. Prepare to feel the awe!
Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix
The people at Formula 1® Australian Grand Prix say it is more than a race—it’s a lifestyle. Every year Formula 1 becomes Melbourne’s most exciting world-class sporting event. The energy is contagious, and you can experience it! Explore the Grand Prix Circuit, and enjoy live performances, the drivers, entertainers, and, of course, the racing lifestyle. If you are a Formula 1 fan, the Australia Grand Prix should be on your must-do list.
World Surfing Championships
From March through May, Australia hosts surfing events like nowhere else. As a matter of fact, it is the only country in the world that hosts more than one World Surfing Championship event. Head to Bells Beach, Margaret River, and the Gold Coast. There are warm waters, beautiful beaches, and epic swells. You’ll see both men’s and women’s tournaments. The action kicks off on the Gold Coast, Australia’s surf capital. Bring a picnic and watch poetry in motion on the sea crests.
Kernewek Lowender Copper Coast Cornish Festival
This is a Cornish-themed festival, happening in odd-numbered years, starting on the second Monday in May. It is held in the Copper Coast towns of Kadina, Moonta, and Wallaroo on Yorke Peninsula, South Australia. (“Kernewek Lowender” means ‘Cornish happiness’ in the Cornish language.) The program has over 60 events and it is complete immersion in Cornish heritage and traditions. Enjoy a Cornish pasty, locally brewed Swanky beer, unique foods, traditional costumes, entertainment, art, concerts, and dancing. There’s also a fun street parade, a pasty bake-off, furry dance, a Maypole (of course!), the Classic Cavalcade of Cars, and ceremonies. Enjoy every delightful moment.
Deep in the Northern Territory, the Barunga Festival takes place every June. This is your chance to join in the celebration of Australian community life. Music, sports, good humor, and local culture will all be yours. Imagine seeing the first-hand beauty of Indigenous art and meeting the artist, hearing a didgeridoo competition, or sitting in a storytelling circle. There are also sports competitions that are awesome. The Barunga Festival is the best of Australian culture, all in one place, over just a few days. Visit and be part of Australia’s true nature.