Unmissable arts events in 2017

Australia's vibrant arts scene offers a full calendar of inspiring arts festivals all over the nation. Unmissable arts events in 2017
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Unmissable arts events in 2017

Australia's vibrant arts scene offers a full calendar of inspiring arts festivals all over the nation. 

By Jac Taylor

The sheer diversity of Australia encourages creative expression. There's endless potential for events, shows, visual arts and musical performances. Here are some of the best Australian arts events scheduled for 2017.

Check out Australia's artistic side


One of the world's oldest film festivals, the Sydney Film Festival screens first-run movies from animated short films to feature-length documentaries and everything in between. Over its 12 days in June, you can join the crowds at the beautiful, heritage-listed State Theatre in Sydney's city centre and various suburban cinemas. As well as the films themselves, you can enjoy filmmaker talks and the Festival Hub pop-up bar and gallery space.
Key dates: 7-18 June, 2017  


Every Easter more than 50,000 people attend the National Folk Festival in the nation's capital, Canberra. It's a relaxed event featuring musical styles such as bluegrass, gypsy and country. The festival's performances are held at Exhibition Park, an event centre by a campground, making it possible to camp right beside the festival (tents are available for rent). There are street performances, poetry readings and food stalls, too.
Key dates: 13-17 April, 2017  


Melbourne is regarded as one of the world's three comedy capitals (Edinburgh and Montreal round out the list), and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival is the highlight of the city's comedy calendar. Each year the three-week roster features performances by some of the biggest comedy stars on Earth, as well as the industry's best up-and-comers. It takes place in locations throughout the city.
Key dates: 29 March-23 April, 2017  


For one surreal night each February, from sunset to sunrise, the public spaces, parks and laneways of Melbourne host art installations, dance events, light spectaculars and street performances. White Night Melbourne is part of the worldwide Nuit Blanche movement, in which artists take over 24 cities. Many of the city's museums and galleries stay open until 7am.
Key dates: 17 February, 2017  


The groundbreaking, eccentric and very popular Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart, Tasmania, is holding its two-week Dark Mofo midwinter festival for the ninth year this June. Curated this year by Brian Ritchie, bass guitarist with alternative rock band the Violent Femmes, the festival does not shy away from making noise or drama. It often makes headlines with its controversial themes and (literally) fiery spectacles.
Key dates: 8-21 June, 2017  


This celebration of Tasmanian arts features cutting-edge international stage performers, visual artists and musicians. As well as symphonies and world-music workshops you'll find avant-garde circus ensembles and art installations. Spreading events through the island’s cities and towns, with Hobart and Launceston as the major centres, Ten Days on the Island only happens every two years.
Key dates: 17-26 March, 2017


The largest annual arts festival in the Southern Hemisphere, this gigantic month-long celebration of the odd and artistic has no curators. Anyone in the community is welcome to stage an event in one of Adelaide's galleries, theatres, halls or parks. So expect the unexpected. The Adelaide Fringe Festival can be mean anything from street art to outrageous cabaret. More than 2 million visitors are expected.
Key dates: 17 February-19 March, 2017  


This unrivaled celebration of world music and dance takes over Adelaide's beautiful Botanic Park for its 21st year in 2017, presenting four days of performances on seven stages by artists from more than 30 countries. As well as music, WOMADelaide's popular Planet Talks series feature some of the world's best minds discussing thought-provoking topics. Past speakers include Canadian environmental activist David Suzuki and British environmental entrepreneur Sir Tim Smit.
Key dates: March 10-13, 2017  


The oldest arts festival in Australia, the Perth International Arts Festival continues to set an international standard in dance, theatre, music, visual arts, literature and film. Past highlights have included giant marionettes (drawing 1.4 million spectators over three days), a "kamikaze cabaret" version of The Little Mermaid and a talk by famed atheist Richard Dawkins. The festival also incorporates the Perth Writers Festival (23-26 February, 2017) and the Lotterywest Film Festival (28 November, 2016-16 April, 2017).
Key dates: 10 February- 5 March, 2017  


While the southern half of Australia is enjoying winter, the tropical city of Darwin celebrates its warm, dry season with the Darwin Festival: 18 days of comedy, cabaret, music and art in August. As the sun sets, visit the light-filled Civic Park, in the heart of Darwin's historic centre, to enjoy free events and gourmet food stalls. This accessible festival really captures the soul of this laid-back city.
Key dates: August 2017 (dates to be announced) 


Visit the most famous monolith in the world, Uluru, during the four-day Tjungu Festival held every April, and gain a fascinating insight into the importance of this sacred site to the local Aboriginal people. This Aboriginal-focused event includes a colourful fashion parade, film festival, music, and dining under the stars. There are also markets where you can buy Aboriginal art and bush tucker.
Key dates: 22-25 April, 2017  


The quiet town of Woodford, an hour's drive north of Brisbane, transforms into a modern-day Woodstock when more than 100,000 people arrive for the Woodford Folk Festival, a celebration of music and culture held at the end of each year. More than 2000 performers are involved, and more than 400 events are held over its six days, including concerts, street theatre, writers’ panels, a film festival, comedy sessions, art and craft workshops and a children’s festival. You can camp on site, or rent nearby accommodation.
Key dates: 27 December, 2017-1 January, 2018


Get your brain working overtime on some curly questions and controversial topics at this annual event produced by the Sydney Opera House and the not-for-profit organisation, the Ethics Centre. The Festival of Dangerous Ideas is only a decade old, but has already attracted figures as well known as Julian Assange, Germaine Greer and Sir Salman Rushdie to debate subjects including sexuality, religion, race and gender politics.
Key dates: September 2017 (dates to be announced) 


Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is a three-week festival featuring more than 100 events that culminate in the world-famous Mardi Gras parade on the first Saturday of March. Each year, the festival attracts more than 200,000 people. Here’s how to get among the festivities.

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Australia's art, music and culture

Australia's art, music and culture

Immerse yourself in Australia's unique cultural experiences through art, music and cultural festival and events.

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Mount Isa Rotary Rodeo
August12 - 14

Mount Isa Rotary Rodeo

Don’t miss Australia’s richest rodeo, where the romance of the Outback meets the grit of a mining town with thrills, spills, concerts and incredible action.

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Australia's City Festivals

Australia's City Festivals

Experience Australia’s cities during their major arts festivals, which showcase local and international theatre, dance, visual arts, music, food and wine and more.

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Good Food and Wine Show Melbourne
June2 - 11

Good Food and Wine Show Melbourne

Eat and drink to your heart's content with incredible options from Australia's best producers of wine and produce.

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