From music festivals to showcases of food and wine, these are 15 of the best festivals in Australia in 2024. This article was originally published in January 2023 and has been updated to reflect the 2024 schedule.
Festival culture is a pretty big deal here, and not even the densest of beer garden queues or sweat-inducing summer scorchers can dissuade us from gathering in droves for a day – or week, in some cases – of good old-fashioned fun.
The best part? This year’s festival calendar caters across the spectrum of taste, all but guaranteeing you’ll find something to pique your interest. From Melbourne Music Week’s 10-day long revelry that beckons music lovers and musos with promises of legendary lineups to Tasting Australia, with its penchant for pushing the limits of your stomach’s capacity, we’re charting a path through the most exciting festivals in Australia in 2024.
The best festivals in Australia: Melbourne
Melbourne Music Week
Festival dates: August to September 2024, exact dates TBC
After smashing it in its debut run last year. Now or Never* is gearing up for a comeback that’s bound to be off the charts. A high-tech, artsy adventure that seamlessly blends sound, visuals, and cutting-edge tech, this city-wide extravaganza is bringing the heat with over 100 performances that’ll have you vibing in the coolest dimly lit venues, bonding with your music tribe over cold brews, and getting lost in a sea of creativity.
Melbourne Food and Wine Festival
Festival dates: 15 – 24 March 2024
Whether you’re a born and bred Melburnian or cross-country visitor, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival* is your one-stop shop for exploring the de facto food capital’s rich culinary scene. Discover just how many dishes you can coax your stomach into sampling as you make your way from cooking demonstrations to food and wine pairings, while pit-stopping at food stalls and artisanal farmers markets along the way. Sure to be the highlight, however, is the 2024 World’s Longest Brunch and Lunch – two massive three-course undertakings served across 600 metres of table.
The best festivals in Australia: Sydney
Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras
Festival dates: 16 February – 3 March 2024
You’d be remiss not to get in on the action (i.e., painting the town rainbow) when this cultural extravaganza* returns in February and March 2024. The sequin-splashed event spans 17 summer days, with the parade (Saturday 2 March 2024) the undisputed highlight. The packed lineup of parties, performances, and events can be overwhelming, so be prepared to just go with the flow, whether that sees you shopping arts, crafts, and eats at family-friendly fairs, laughing till you cry at the annual Laugh Out Proud, or dancing the night away at a glittering after-party.
Festival dates: TBC
Standing out among its (many) fellow music festivals, Harbourlife’s appeal lies in the unmatched harbourside views you get from its dancefloor (some might even say it’s the most well-located dancefloor in the country). You’ll dance along to a curated lineup of summer-ready beats courtesy of a slew of local and international artists, all while marvelling at how well the Sydney Harbour backdrop complements your beer.
The best festivals in Australia: Perth
Festival dates: 9 February 2024 – 3 March 2024
Touted as the oldest multi-arts festival in the southern hemisphere, Perth Festival* has had just over 70 years to perfect the art of presenting art – and it shows. Events are scattered throughout the city, ensuring your immersion in Perth’s history and heritage, all while you feast your eyes on larger-than-life visual art installations, dance and theatrical shows, and conversations and concerts – including an anticipated performance by R&B Superstar Sampha. What’s more, bookworms and movie buffs can get their fix at the Perth Literature and Ideas fair and the Lotterywest Film Festival, which run concurrently.
Perth International Jazz Festival
Festival dates: TBC
Jazz is a tonic for the soul – and you can treat your ears to three days of the good stuff at this year’s Perth International Jazz Festival*. Set in venues across the city, including the Perth Cultural Precinct, the festival highlights the crème de la crème of the country’s local jazz artists and throws in some international stars for good measure. From intimate shows at bars and nightclubs to packed concert hall performances, the festival has a loaded programme of events to suit the taste of every jazz fan.
The best festivals in Australia: Brisbane
World Science Festival Brisbane featuring Curiocity Brisbane
Festival dates: 15 – 24 March 20234
Taking a break from the music, art, and food and wine festivals that pepper our list, the World Science Festival* is here to stimulate your mind. Centred around the Queensland Museum and spilling into a handful of other locations across the CBD, this fest promises a day of fun for the whole family – exploring science in an engaging and entertaining way through performances, conversations, and interactive experiences. An evolution of the ever-popular Curiocity Brisbane, which offered a trail of artworks for audiences to discover across Brisbane, the 2024 Art/Science Program continues to extend the creativity around art and science in a program that features interactive artworks on a larger, engaging scale.
Festival dates: 30 August – 28 September 2024
Ushering in spring with an explosion of colour, culture, heritage and art, this Brisbane takeover is the highlight of the city’s festival calendar. Redefining the traditional art festival, Brisbane Festival* makes the city its stage, and you’ll wander its streets from venue to venue, unlocking iconic landmarks – and indulging in its rich day- and nightlife – as you go. Prepare to be captivated by multi-disciplinary art installations and music and theatrical performances that spotlight everyone from First Nations trailblazers and Aussie music royalty to award-winning international artists.
The best festivals in Australia: Adelaide
Adelaide Fringe Festival
Festival dates: 16 February – 17 March 2024
Its appeal lies in that it has something for everyone, which is why, if Adelaide Fringe* isn’t already on your festival to-do list, it should be now. Adelaide will come to life before your eyes as artists and art-lovers alike paint the town for 31 days and nights of art-led revelry at venues across the city. It’s a kaleidoscopic experience, where you’re just as likely to find yourself watching a classical music concert in a public park as you are to come across circus acrobats performing while you’re having a bevvie at a local brewery.
Festival dates: 3 – 12 May 2024
With one taking place every other week, it’s safe to say that Aussies love a food festival. The bar is high, but Tasting Australia – a 10-day long epicurean homage to local gastronomy – is touted as the jewel in the food fest crown (largely thanks to its coveted Chef’s Table dinners, where you’re wined and dined in an intimate setting by the country’s biggest chefs). Here, you’ll join the droves of connoisseurs and foodies who have trekked to the city, lured by promises of wineglasses overflowing with Adelaide’s best wines and some of the finest South Australian cuisine in the country. Craving for more? Discover our guide to Adelaide street food.
The best festivals in Australia: Canberra
The Canberra Comedy Festival
Festival dates: 13 – 24 March 2024
We can all use a good laugh, and the annual Canberra Comedy Festival serves up tear-inducing belly laughs by the dozen. We dare you to try hold it together as Australian comedic legends – and some big-name international guests – regale you with side-splitting anecdotes and profanity-laced platitudes at events hosted across the city. This year, you won’t want to miss the annual Gala (Tuesday 19 march 2024), a two-hour comedy marathon.
Canberra Balloon Spectacular
Festival dates: 9 – 17 March 2024
If you’re looking for something a little bit different, then the nine-day Canberra Balloon Spectacular is one to note down. Few sights can match the flurry of hot-air balloons in every size, colour, and shape imaginable (past iterations saw Darth Vader and sloth balloons stealing the show) that take to Canberra’s skies each morning from the Parliamentary Triangle. You’re not just stuck spectating either – you can book your place in a basket and enjoy city vistas at sunrise from one of the many balloons that launch daily.
The best festivals in Australia: Hobart
Taste of Summer
Festival dates: TBC
There’s only one thing to do on an island that’s as renowned for its wines as it is for its seafood – attend a food and wine festival where you can sample both in excess. The holy grail of Tassie’s food fests, Taste of Summer* draws more than 80 of the island’s leading food- and drink-makers into one convenient waterfront location (Hobart’s Princess Wharf). Spend a day trawling stalls, testing the limits of your stomach’s capacity, and washing it all down with a mandatory glass (or three) of Pinot Noir – the lineup of local musicians performing is great too.
Mona Foma 2024
Festival dates: 15 – 25 February 2024 (nipaluna / Hobart), 2 March 2024 (Launceston)
Sure, it’s got a dazzling lineup of international artists, but we’d be lying if we didn’t say that, for most, the real draw of Mona Foma* is the infamous Faux Mo after-party (23 – 25 February 2024). The stuff of myth and legend, this summer music and art festival (and its after-party) runs one weekend after another, in Hobart and then Launceston, with a banging programme.
The best festivals in Australia: Darwin
Darwin Festival 2023
Festival dates: 8 – 25 August 2024
The capital of the Northern Territory probably isn’t at the top your festival destination list, but the annual Darwin Festival* in all its art, music, and cultural glory is doing the most to put the city on the festival map. The best part? It’s in winter, so you can have fun without cooking alive. Experience the capital’s melting pot of cultures first-hand as you wander the streets in search of the next beer garden, art installation, comedy show, or musical act on the programme at this multidisciplinary event.
Thinking of planning a trip out of state for a festival? With Westpac Concierge, you’ll have a team of travel specialists on hand to help plan every aspect of your trip. Did you know, this service is free to a select group of Westpac cardholders?
*These festivals acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which the events are held.