This autumn go on a journey through Australia and uncover the abundance of unique and cultural events that are available through the regions. From food and wine to arts and culture, discover the must see events to explore this season.
Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, NSW
Sydney’s biggest street party
The Sydney Mardi Gras is an annual gay pride festival which attracts tourists from around Australia as well as overseas. The festival includes almost 100 cultural, sporting and social events to appeal to every taste. It culminates in the world-famous Mardi Gras Parade on 1 March, a glittering procession of more than 9,000 people, outrageous floats, lavish costumes, stunning designs and dancing.
Must see: With the sun-kissed sails of the Sydney Opera House and the glittering harbour as the perfect backdrop, Harbour Party 2014 beckons a diverse mix of people from across town and around the globe to party the night away on the open-air dance floor.
Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, VIC
Melbourne’s best food and wine waterfront at the Yarra
Each year in March, the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival unveils a world-class program of more than 300 events that fill Melbourne’s labyrinthine network of restaurants, laneways, lights-turned-down basements and dizzying rooftops as well as spilling into spectacular regional Victoria.
Must see: The festival’s new hub, The Immersery Kitchen, Bar and Raingarden. Celebrate the wonder of water at the Festival’s spectacular hub anchored to the Yarra River in Queensbridge Square. The bustling riverside meeting place will be home to Victoria’s most inspiring food, wine and cocktails over 17 days.
Formula 1™ Rolex Australian Grand Prix, VIC
Australia’s oldest and grandest motor racing competition
The Formula 1™ Australian Grand Prix offers an action-packed extravaganza of on-track and off-track activities for people of all ages to enjoy, set in the stunning surrounds of Albert Park and offering views of Melbourne's skyline.
Must see: The legendary Tony Hawk, arguably the most influential skateboarder of all time, will take off-track excitement to new heights when he brings his ‘Tony Hawk and Friends Vert Jam’ sessions to the 2014 Formula 1™ Australian Grand Prix.
Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival, VIC
A sophisticated and stylish week of entertainment
Celebrate Australian fashion in spectacular style as the annual festival of fashion, beauty, business and creative endeavor floods into Melbourne. The Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival offers a true feast for the senses, with the most stylish week-long entertainment on offer including world-class runway shows, beauty workshops and live entertainment.
Must see: Experience a breathtaking collection of vibrant, playful and luxurious designs from Australia's very own Camilla Franks in the Grand Showcase. This big, opulent, one-off show promises to be the ultimate fashion experience with an exciting musical collaboration and daring stagecraft.
Canberra Balloon Spectacular, ACT
World-famous hot air balloon spectacular
See a stunning array of hot air balloons inflate at dawn and slowly drift over Canberra's iconic national attractions. One of the top events of its kind, the Canberra Balloon Spectacular splashes colour through the sky and features live entertainment on the ground with breakfast available for all to enjoy.
Must see: Immerse yourself in the action and experience the buzz of hot air ballooning for yourself. See the world from a bird’s eye view in an exhilarating adventure, where you float with the breeze several hundred metres in the air.
Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour, NSW
Experience Opera on a magnificent floating harbour stage
Experience the magic, excitement and beauty of a world famous opera. Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour brings to life Puccini's much-loved opera Madama Butterfly on a shimmering stage on Sydney harbour, with spectacular views over the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Must see: Whether it’s the rush of adrenalin as a soprano or tenor’s voice soars, the hum of the chorus, the larger-than-life costumes and scenery, the moving stories, or just the whole sense of occasion, Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour is like no other.
Unique festival devoted to baroque music
Hobart Baroque is a festival dedicated solely to the performance of music penned in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Local and mainland artists will be joined by guests from Finland, Spain, the UK, Israel, Greece, Russia, New Zealand and Turkey. Newcomers can dip their toes into the program at 5x5x5@5 – five early evening recitals for the bargain price of $5.
Must See: Highlights include a fully staged performance of Handel's operatic masterpiece Orlando, a selection of Domenico Scarlatti's sonatas played on dueling harpsichords, and an evening of exotic Turkish classical music accompanied by an Ottoman Feast.
Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom the Musical, NSW
Australia’s most spectacular homegrown musical experience
Strictly Ballroom The Musical is the inspiring story of a championship ballroom dancer who defies all the rules to follow his heart. The original creative team behind the classic 1992 film, including director and co-writer Baz Luhrmann, will return to create a brand new all-singing, all-dancing theatrical production.
Must see: Be a part of history and experience the drama, the humour, the romance in the sparkling, sequined spectacular that inspired the world to dance.
Sydney Royal Easter Show, NSW
Country meets city in a celebration of Australian culture and heritage
The Sydney Royal Easter Show is Australia’s largest annual event, attracting close to 900,000 people each year. It is a celebration of Australian culture, from its rural traditions to modern day lifestyles, providing unique experiences for everyone. Each year the country and city join together to enjoy agricultural competitions, animal experiences, entertainment, carnival fun, shopping and much more.
Must see: A quintessential Australian tradition, the Woodchop Competition has featured in the Easter Show for over a century. Attracting about 200 male and female competitors from Australia and overseas who compete in 65 different classes, this is the only Show Competition that is also a World Titles event.
Australia’s most influential culinary festival
Since its inception in 1997, Tasting Australia has become one of the country’s most influential and best attended culinary festivals. The biennial event, which attracts some 50,000 people, is the perfect opportunity for food and drink professionals, the world’s food, drink and travel media, and the public to enjoy the best that the nation has to offer in produce, wine, beer, hospitality and tourism.
Must see: On each day, Eat Sessions with your favourite chefs is the perfect way to really experience the festival. With Australia’s most celebrated chefs involved each year, this is an event not to be missed.
Aussie Wine Month (National)
The biggest annual celebration of Australian wine
Aussie Wine Month is a medley of around 100 events, tastings, promotions and celebrations across the country showcasing Australia’s reputation for producing some of the world’s best wines. Aussie Wine Month presents a great opportunity to sample Australia’s best, be it a Tasmanian Pinot Noir, Hunter Valley Semillon, Margaret River Cabernet, Yarra Valley Chardonnay or Barossa Shiraz, or another variety from more than 60 designated wine regions across the country.
Must see: Experience Australia’s ‘Regional Heroes’ through the theme of this year’s events.
An exquisite opera takes on the sun, sand and surf
Out of the theatre and onto the beach, experience Opera on the Beach. Picture a giant sandcastle on the beach at Coolangatta, families enjoying a picnic, children making sandcastles as the sun goes down, and miraculously beautiful music. And there you have a uniquely Australian production of one of the world’s favourite operas, Mozart’s The Magic Flute.
Must see: Watch the magic unfold from your beach chair and leave with stars in your eyes, sand in your shoes and songs in your heart.
Noosa International Food and Wine Festival, QLD
Queensland’s culinary mecca by the sea
Foodies should head north to Noosa on the Sunshine Coast for the Noosa International Food and Wine Festival. The event boasts over 200 leading international and national chefs, winemakers, media and restaurateurs who take part in cooking demonstrations, lifestyle lunches, wine tasting, culinary exhibitions and more. Other events include Food Trails, International Picnics and degustation dinners.
Must see: Cruise up the Noosa River on the MV Catalina for Seafood Afloat. Visit the home base of Spanner Crabs Noosa, get fishing and crabbing tips from local experts and tour Richard Branson’s famous Makepeace Island.
High Country Harvest, VIC
Experience North-East Victoria’s best restaurants, wineries and breweries
Food lovers are invited to get down-to-earth with the High Country’s top chefs, producers, winemakers and craft brewers at High Country Harvest. From the soaring peaks of Victoria’s highest mountains, to the fertile valleys and pristine rivers and lakes below, this event is an up-close and personal celebration of the North East’s invigorating autumn flavours.
Must see: In harmony with the harvest season, many of the High Country’s tastiest restaurants and cafés will create special menus featuring regional produce in abundance – perhaps chestnuts, foraged mushrooms, apples, persimmons or other heroes - matched with superb regional wines. Be sure to book a table.
Savour Tasmania Incorporating the Red Wine Weekend, TAS
A celebration of the island’s produce
For five days in May Tasmania's best growers, wine-makers and boutique producers head to town for Savour Tasmania – a celebration of the island's produce and the local and international chefs who bring it from paddock to plate. From beloved local restaurants to the spectacular Princes Wharf 1 on Hobart’s waterfront, the program includes tastings, master classes, meet-ups and many glasses of cold climate wine.
Must See: A festival within a festival, Hobart’s Red Wine Weekend concludes proceedings with a showcase of Tasmanian reds from a variety of vintages. Entry includes a taste of every featured wine and a chance to chat with the makers.