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. And here is even better travel news: There are festivals across the entire continent.
Take a break from the 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 first is a solar eclipse…
A Complete Solar Eclipse
The most exceptional, one-time event occurs on April 20, 2023. It is the Ningaloo Solar Eclipse. Folks who chase eclipses are traveling from around the world to the Exmouth Cape, on Australia’s West Coral Coast. It is one of the few places in the world the total eclipse will be visible.
In most places, it is known as a hybrid solar eclipse. However, in Exmouth, visitors will witness the total eclipse at 11:27 a.m. A total solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, completely blocking the face of the Sun. The sky darkens as if it were dawn or dusk, an eerie experience. There are only four small points in the entire world where this natural phenomenon occurs. Be there for it in Australia!
The National Multicultural Event
February 17 – February 19, is held in Canberra, the capital of Australia. This is its 25th anniversary, bringing together more than 170 nationalities that make up the unique beauty that creates a healthy community. It is a banquet of sights, sounds, dance, music, colors, scents, and local food. Enjoy!
Sydney WorldPride 2023
Held in Sydney, New South Wales, between February 17 and March 5, this is called a Mega Mardi Gras! A global LGBTIQA+ festival, it’s been around since 2000, and is fun for everyone. (Cities compete to host the event, and Sydney was chosen for 2023.) Get ready for their annual Mardi Gras Parade, returning for the first time in three years. Then you’ll have more than 300 concerts, parties, arts, sports, and Indigenous programs to watch or participate in. Sydney is known for a diverse population that embraces all. And, of course, the weather will be ideal.
Australian Heritage Festival
This festival is held throughout Sydney between April 10 – May 14, 2023. It is known as Australia’s largest heritage event, featuring more than 150 happenings that are both free and ticketed. Activities include exhibitions, walking tours, films, talks by local experts, foodie fairs, workshops, tours of historical sites, Indigenous ceremonies, demonstrations, and special meals.
Celebrating its 40th year, the festival always has a different theme. This year it is “Sharing Stories.” Awakening a sense of place and belonging, the festival will have opportunities for diverse voices to share and build connections about their cultural, natural, and historic heritage. This festival occurs at the same time as the total eclipse on the West Coral Coast. What an extraordinary pairing that would make!
The Adelaide Fringe
Occurring between February 17 and March 19 in 2023, is the well-loved Adelaide Fringe. For a month of perfect summer days and nights, the 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. 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 Point Wilson, Victoria between March 3 and March 5 for the grandest airshow in the Southern Hemisphere. After a four-year break, the airshow is offering free general admission to everyone 15 years and younger. 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 at 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.
Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe, Western Australia
© sculpturebythesea.com. Merle Topsi Davis.’Sea Anomalies 3′, Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe 2022. Photo Martine Perret
From March 3 – March 20 this exhibition features 70 artists from 15 countries. All artworks are installed from the sea wall along the sand to North Cottlesloe. 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
From March 11 – March 19 hot air balloons float over the capital city at the Enlighten Festival. Held over nine days, 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. Prepare to feel the awe!
Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix
Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix will be held in Albert Park, Victoria on March 30 – April 2 in 2023. 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 Albert Park 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
From May 21 to May 15, the towns of Moonta, Kadina, and Wallaroo celebrate 50 years of the annual Cornish Festival. This program has over 60 events, and is complete immersion in Cornish heritage and traditions. Enjoy a Cornish pasty, locally brewed Swanky, 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!), and ceremonies. Enjoy every delightful moment.
Deep in the Northern Territory, at Flying Fox, the Barunga Festival takes place from June 9 – June 12 in 2023. This is your chance to join in the celebration of Australian community life. Music, sports, good humor, local culture, and music 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.
Australia is a place of deep joy, friendly gatherings, and diverse people. It is one of the most beautiful continents in the world, from its red desert mysteries to its pristine beaches. Make your Australian travel dream a reality and include a local festival. This is the stuff memories are made of.
Australia packs wonders into its cities, villages, wilderness, and wildlife. If you’d like to visit during a festival, just let your Authentic Travel Destination Expert know!