Festival of Sydney: Art, music and theatre. There’s something for everyone, much of it free, at this massive three-week festival (7-29 January).

Australia Day: Australia’s national day (26 January) is a public holiday with events and celebrations going on absolutely everywhere.

Big Day Out
: Huge one-day music festival featuring international and local acts. Tours five Aussie cities plus Auckland.

Headliners this year include Kanye West, Noel Gallagher and Kasabian (Jan 20 – Feb 5).

The Taste Festival (Hobart)
: A celebration of Tasmania’s lifestyle, showcasing gourmet food and wine on Hobart’s waterfront (28 Dec – 3 Jan).

Australian Open Tennis (Melbourne)
: One of the four Grand Slams, the Australian Open attracts the world’s best players (16-29 January).


Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras: The biggest gay and lesbian festival in the world.

It ends on 3 March with the famously extravagant parade along Oxford St and one helluva party.

Festival of Perth: A three-week festival of arts
and culture that attracts the fi nest talent in the world (10 Feb – 3 Mar).

Adelaide Fringe Festival: The world’s second biggest fringe festival, after Edinburgh (24 Feb – 18 Mar).

Melbourne Adventure Travel and Backpackers Expo: (18-19 February) Get expert tips.

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Australian Formula One Grand Prix (Melbourne): First round of the F1 World Championships (15-18 March).

Melbourne International Comedy Festival: The best comedy acts from around the world (28 Mar – 22 Apr). This year’s lineup includes Ross Noble, Tom Green and Jason Byrne.

Future Music Festival
: One of Australia’s best dance/crossover festivals.

Tours five cities (3-12 March). Acts this year include Fatboy Slim, Swedish House Mafia and Tinie Tempah.

WOMADelaide (Adelaide)
: Renowned world music festival (9-12 March).

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Bluesfest (Byron Bay): The East Coast Annual Blues & Roots Music Festival runs all through the Easter long weekend (5-9 April). Acts include Crosby, Stills and Nash, Roger Daltry and The Pogues.

Anzac Day: A national public holiday (25 April) to honour the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps, in particular those who fought at Gallipoli in WWI.

Mindil Beach Markets (Darwin): A must-do in Darwin during the dry season (April 26 to October 25).

Every Thursday and Sunday watch the sun set into the ocean while having a good feed and picking up some souvenirs.


Mardi Grass (Nimbin, NSW): The Southern Hemisphere’s largest Cannabis Law Reform festival (5-6 May).

National Rugby League State of Origin: Watch the Queensland Maroons and the New South Wales Blues go head-to-head in one of Australia’s biggest rivalries (Brisbane, May 23; Sydney, June 13; Brisbane, July 4).


Queen’s Birthday: A national public holiday held on the second Monday in June (later in the year in WA).

Alpine Winter Festival: Central Sydney and then Bondi Beach is transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with an outdoor ice rink.


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Melbourne International Film Festival: Australia’s largest and most prestigious film festival.

Camel Cup (Alice Springs, NT): The biggest race in the Aussie camel-racing calendar (14 July).

Beer Can Regatta (Darwin): Boats made of beer cans trying not to sink (15 July).

Yulefest (Blue Mountains, NSW): Celebrate a traditional Northern Hemipshere Crimbo in the middle of Aussie winter.



Mt Isa Rodeo (Mt Isa, QLD): Three days of outback rodeo fun (10-12 August).

Henly-on-Todd (Alice Springs): The world’s original waterless regatta held in the dry riverbed of the Todd River (20 August).

Birdsville Races: Thousands descend on this tiny Queensland outback town for some dusty horse races. (31 Aug – 1 Sep).



Football grand finals: The Aussie rules football and rugby league grand fi nals. These events are the equivalent of the FA Cup fi nal.

Deniliquin Ute Muster
: Parade of classic utes combined with a music festival and loads of entertainment (28-29 September).

Brisbane Festival: Three weeks of performances and events, starting with the dramatic Riverfire fireworks extravanganza (3-24 September).



Melbourne Festival: Showcases some of the finest international arts (10-27 October).

Sydney Adventure Travel and Backpackers Expo: Get travel deals and advice from the experts (10-11 November).

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Melbourne Cup: Annual horse race that famously “stops the nation” – it’s even a public holiday in Victoria. Betting, getting dressed up and partying galore (6 November).

Moonlight Cinema: Outdoor cinema in the parklands until March (Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney). There is also a season in Port Douglas throughout July.

Gold Coast Sevens: Catch two days of rugby action at the Australian stint of the nine-leg IRB Sevens World Series.


Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race (Boxing Day): Jump on a ferry to watch the spectacular start.

Homebake (Sydney): Annual rock music festival of the best homegrown talent.

Boxing Day Test (Melbourne): Traditional cricket and beer fest at Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Christmas and New Year: Places like Bondi Beach and Fremantle ‘go off’ on NYE.

Shore Thing (Bondi Beach, NSW): International acts are common at this NYE festival on Australia’s most famous beach.

Falls Festival: One of Australia’s best multi-day festivals where you camp out and rock out (Marion Bay, TAS and Lorne, VIC).


Photo: Getty