Australia’s 7 best music festivals

10 December 2018

Love a good music festival? Here are 7 of Australia’s best, in no particular order.

1. Woodford Folk Festival

Where: Woodford, Queensland

When: 27 December – 1 January every year

This huge festival has a blissed-out peace and love vibe and takes place over six days and nights ending on New Year’s Day each year. When we say huge we mean it – the event draws around 2000 performers and 125,000 festival-goers annually.

Music is a big part of the event but it also encompasses street performance, stand-up comedy, circus acts, cabaret, public speakers, interactive workshops and a children’s festival. Early risers (or serious night owls) won’t want to miss the sunrise ceremony on New Year’s Day where attendees greet the sun to a soundtrack of Tibetan chanting and mellow music.

Where’s Woodford? It’s a small country town around 70km north of Brisbane. Now in its 24th year at the Woodford site, the event was previously held in Maleny from 1987 to 1994 as the Maleny Folk Festival.

2. Splendour in the Grass

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Where: Byron Bay, New South Wales

When: late July – early August every year

Now in its 18th year, Australia’s largest winter music festival attracts some incredibly popular local and international acts and a result, sizeable crowds of 30,000 including some high-profile music lovers like Elon Musk and Amber Heard in past years.

Splendour focuses on indie rock, hip hop, electronic and alternative genres. The 2018 line-up included Kendrick Lamar, Lorde, Vampire Weekend, Khalid, The Wombats, Hilltop Hoods, Chvrches, Miguel, Girl Talk, Angus & Julia Stone, Gang of Youths, Franz Ferdinand and dozens more.

3. Falls Festival

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4. Tamworth Country Music Festival

Where: Tamworth, New South Wales

When: 18 – 27 January 2019

If you’re a bit of a cowboy or cowgirl at heart and love your country music, this is one festival you won’t want to miss. Held every January since 1972 in the regional NSW town of Tamworth, you’ll also find bluegrass, rock, blues, swing, rockabilly, folk, classical and world music on offer.

The Tamworth event is the second biggest country music festival in the world, behind Nashville, and in 2007 Forbes rated it as number 8 on a list of the ‘world’s coolest music festivals’. So even if you aren’t a huge country music fan, it’s worth checking out!

5. Groovin the Moo

Where: Maitland, New South Wales; Townsville, Queensland; Bendigo, Victoria; Canberra, Australian Capital Territory; Bunbury, Western Australia; Wayville, South Australia

When: late April to early May every year

This unusually-named event spreads the love to towns across Australia as it’s held in six regional centres across the country every autumn. Focusing on Aussie music and rock, alternative, indie, hip hop, electronic and metalcore genres, it started back in 2005 in Gloucester, New South Wales before expanding across Australia as its success grew.

The 2018 line-up included Aussie acts Grinspoon, Alex Lahey, Ball Park Music, Vera Blue, Flight Facilities, Paul Kelly and the Amity Affliction plus international artists Royal Blood, Duke Dumont, Lady Leshurr, Portugal The Man and Claptone.

6. Bluesfest

Where: Byron Bay, New South Wales

When: 18 – 22 April 2019

Held in the beautiful town of Byron Bay every Easter long weekend, this relaxed festival is all about music and good times. As the name suggests, blues features heavily in the line-up but you’ll also find roots, indie, rock, folk and world music on offer.

Notable guests in past years have included Matt Damon, Jason Momoa and Chris Hemsworth amongst the crowd of music lovers it attracts every April, which has now swelled to a whopping 100,000+ attendees.

Bluesfest takes out a huge number of Australian and international awards for both the quality of music it presents as well as excellent organisation of the event itself – it boasts some of the best camping and facilities you’ll find on the festival circuit.

7. Meredith

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Where: Meredith, Victoria

When: 7 – 9 December 2018

This three-day event is deliberately different. With no commercial sponsors, no commercial signage, no market stalls, no set camping allocations and no curfews, it relies on the mutual respect and goodwill of festival-goers to keep things running smoothly – and lo and behold it works! 28 years young, Meredith is held on farmland in what organisers have dubbed a ‘supernatural amphitheatre’.

It features some quirky events alongside the music like the Meredith Gift, a nude or underwear-only sprint race around the amphitheatre. The 2018 artist line-up includes The Breeders, Billy Bragg, The Presets, Yaeji, Sampa the Great, Panda Bear, The Founding Father of House Lil Louis, Laura Jean and Pond, plus many more.

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