Sun’s out, day-planners out! As the warmer months kick off so does the traditional music festival season of Australia where from coast-to-coast, there’s plenty of options competing for calendar placement. What was once a landscape dominated by Big Days Out and the like, now the flavour is far more boutique with a pallet of artisan produce, kid-friendly activities and plenty more beyond the amps and ear-bleeding action. Here’s our guide to some of the best festivals happening over the next few months.
When and Where: December 2nd at Perth’s Red Hill Auditorium.
The Line Up: alt-J, Cashmere Cat, Future Islands, Noname, The Shins, Warpaint and Ziggy Ramo
What Makes It Special: Don’t worry about missing a minute of the intimate (and inaugural) Fidelity Festival, with a single stage hosting all the acts on the bill.
Hot Tip: There’s parking at the venue, but if you don’t want to drive there’s an express bus to take you to and from the event with selected pick up and drop off locations around Perth.
More Info: fidelityfestival.com.au
When and Where: December 8th to 9th at Berry, NSW – approximately 145km south of Sydney, 60km south of Wollongong.
The Line Up: Gang Of Youths, You Am I, Holly Throsby, The Shins, Client Liaison, Japanese Breakfast
What Makes It Special: The Fairgrounds Record Club which will showcase in-depth conversations with Marlon Williams and David Le’Aupepe (Gang Of Youths) about an album that changed their life. The sessions are RSVP only and available to all ticketholders. In addition, Double J’s Myf Warhurst will host a series of discussions with artists on the bill – Spiral Stairs (Scott Kannberg from Pavement), Holly Throsby and The Shins’ James Mercer.
Hot Tip: BYO… kids! The festival is free for the little ones under 12 and Little Fairgrounds is a designated festival just for them, featuring an indie-kids karaoke stage, magic shows, and child minding. Those sans-children can enjoy the date night dining experience at Paperbark Camp Pop Up restaurant.
More Info: fairgrounds.com.au
When and Where: Kicking off at the festival’s traditional homes of Lorne in Victoria and Tasmania’s Marion Bay on the 28th/29th, before heading to the left coast, wrapping in Fremantle on December 7th; details here.
The Line Up: Flume, Fleet Foxes, Angus & Julia Stone, Liam Gallagher, The Smith Street Band, Daryl Braithwaite and more.
What Makes It Special: The ever-eclectic Falls Festival – this year featuring a range from Daryl Braithwaite to Flume – takes two formats: a traditional music festival for the Byron, Marion, and Lorne legs, and a ‘downtown’ takeover for Freo, which “will be incorporating and reimagining historic sites, streets, carparks and buildings.”
Hot Tip: Each leg of the festival has its own space for you to chill out and get away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds, with Byron Bay’s purpose-built water park embodying all things ’80s and California and Lorne hosting a ‘lifestyle’ zone (featuring everything from yoga to silent discos), while Marion Bay and Fremantle go one better, with direct beach access for those who want to take a dip between sets.
More Info: fallsfestival.com
When and Where: January 12th to 14th at Tarwin Meadows, approximately 120km east of Melbourne.
The Line Up: Parkway Drive, Tonight Alive, The Amity Affliction, Young Lions, Hellions
What Makes It Special: Settle in for a night under the stars at “Australia’s only heavy metal camping festival.”
Hot Tip: Keen to camp but hate the hassle? Unify have collaborated with Kartent to make life easier with an eco-friendly camping option at the festival. They set it up for you before you arrive and recycle it when you leave – stress free for you and the environment.
More Info: unifygathering.com
When and Where: January 20th at Dashville (Lower Belford) in the Hunter Valley, approximately 200km north of Sydney.
The Line Up: Frenzal Rhomb, King Parrot, Batpiss, Voiid
What Makes It Special: Thrashville (a spin-off from the Cosmic Country Weekender Dashville Skyline) is completely clash-free, offering two stages with only one act playing at a time.
Hot Tip: Extra, extra! Keep an eye out for some additional events around the festival, including skateboard demos, graffiti art displays, and BMX.
More Info: dashville.com.au/thrashville
Party In The Paddock
When and Where: February 8th to 11th at White Hills, Tasmania, approximately 200km north of Hobart, or just 20km from Launceston.
The Line Up: Gang Of Youths, Grouplove, The Avalanches, Meg Mac, Client Liaison, Tkay Maidza
What Makes It Special: Been trying to find a reason to head down to Tassie for a holiday? Party In The Paddock is convenient but remote, just a 20-minute drive from Launceston at the scenic White Hills. Fly in, drive out, and in the space of a good few songs you’ll be right amongst it.
Hot Tip: Party In The Paddock is a camping festival with no passouts. Make sure you bring everything you need for the few days of festival frivolity.
More Info: partyinthepaddockfestival.com.au
Sydney City Limits, Sydney
When and Where: February 24th at Centennial Park, Sydney
The Line Up: Beck, Justice, Vance Joy, Tash Sultana, Grace Jones
What Makes It Special: Organised by the team behind Splendour In The Grass and Falls Festival, Sydney City Limits is the sister festival to the popular Texan festival, Austin City Limits and is going big for its first Australian run, boasting headliners Beck and Justice.
Hot Tip: Leave the car at home. With the festival located at Centennial Park, this festival will be taking place right in the centre of the city.
More Info: sydneycitylimits.com
When and Where: March 9th to 12th at Botanic Park, Adelaide.
The Line Up: The Avalanches, Dan Sultan, Kamasi Washington, Anoushka Shankar, Adrian Sherwood, Rodrigo Y Gabriela and more.
What Makes It Special: Dubbed ‘The World’s Festival’, WOMAD brings a diverse lineup from around the world creating an easygoing festival with music, workshops, talks, and a kidzone in the heart of one of most serene public gardens.
Hot Tip: On ya bike! WOMAD has staffed bike zones to allow patrons to safely park their bikes while enjoying the festival. Don’t have a pushy? Bike share services, such as the popular Ofo, are also available in the city of churches.
More Info: womadelaide.com.au
When and Where: March 10th and 12th at Meredith, approximate 100km west of Melbourne; 45km north-west of Geelong and the same distance south-east of Ballarat.
The Line Up: Big Boi, The Avalanches, Mogwai, The Preatures, Jen Cloher, Wet Lips
What Makes It Special: While there’s boutique drinking holes on the festival site – the Toucan Bar, the Pink Flamingo Bar, and Eric’s Terrace – what sets it apart is that Meredith is also a BYO event, just don’t bring glass.
Hot Tip: If you find yourself at what you think is the best act of the festival, consider the story of The Boot. A Golden Plains tradition, the raising of a boot can be considered the ultimate act of praise.
More Info: 2018.goldenplains.com.au
When: March 24th at Melbourne’s Flemington Racecourse.
The Line Up: Korn, Prophets of Rage, Limp Bizkit, Mastodon, Ocean Grove
What Makes It Special: Download will be bringing the best of nu-metal nostalgia to our shores, with two of the biggest names from the rap-rock heyday – Korn (playing their only Australian show) and Limp Bizkit – leading the charge, alongside new Rage Against the Machine/Public Enemy/Cypress Hill supergroup, Prophets of Rage, who will be making their Australian debut.
Hot Tip: While you might be there for the big names on the bill, don’t forget about the homegrown talent on display, most notably: Clowns, King Parrot, and Trophy Eyes.
More Info: downloadfestival.com.au
Bluesfest, Byron Bay
When: March 29th to April 2nd at Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm, just 9km north of Byron Bay.
The Line Up: Lionel Richie, Tash Sultana, Bobby Rush, The California Honey Drops, First Aid Kit
What Makes It Special: In its 29th year, Bluesfest runs like a well-oiled machine. It’s a hassle-free five-day festival, spread out across a massive 120 hectare lot.
Hot Tip: Pace yourself – with more than 200 performances over five 12-hour days, take a break between acts and enjoy the undercover food courts and bars at the festival.
More Info: bluesfest.com.au
St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival
When & Where: Laneway 2018 kicks off in Singapore on January 27th, travelling to Auckland and all across Australia, before wrapping up in Fremantle on February 11th. Details here.
The Line Up: War On Drugs, Father John Misty, (Sandy) Alex G, Amy Shark, BADBADNOTGOOD, Mac DeMarco.
What Makes It Special: Laneway Festival continually captures the modern music zeitgeist; the kind of festival where you might stumble across your new favourite band when on-route to see something else.
Hot Tip: Get in early to catch Brisbane firecracker rap diva Miss Blanks, a star in the making.
More Info: lanewayfestival.com