Throughout the year Australia hosts many events celebrating our unique cultural identity. Join as the whole country celebrates on Australia Day. Celebrate Australia’s multicultural heritage during Chinese New Year. Pay respects to Australia’s soldiers at an emotional dawn service on Anzac Day. Party all night long at Sydney Mardi Gras or spend Ten Days on the Island indulging in Tasmania’s island culture. See our prized livestock and rural heritage at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. From fashion, food and flowers to comedy, the classics and the heat of a summer Christmas, there is an event to appeal to everyone.
Australia Day marks the anniversary of the day Captain Arthur Phillip first raised the British flag at Sydney Cove on 26 January 1788. It is a designated public holiday with hundreds of small and large events taking place across the nation. In Sydney, thousands of people gather along Sydney Harbour foreshore for the celebrations on the water. In towns and cities there are community breakfasts, beach parties, corroborees and concerts, parades and pageants, sporting events, cultural and historic exhibitions and fireworks displays. Citizenship ceremonies are held to welcome new residents. It’s a day for Australians to celebrate everything that’s great about being Australian.
Chinese New Year is the longest and most important celebration in the Chinese calendar, and is celebrated around Australia in recognition of Australia’s long Chinese cultural heritage. Many Chinese-Australian families reunite to celebrate Chinese New Year in Australia and welcome the year in with good fortune and prosperity. Firecrackers, lanterns and silk dragons are in abundance; while dedicated Chinatowns in Australian cities provide a hub for fine feasts. The Great Dragon appears at the Chinese New Year celebrations in the streets of Melbourne. In Sydney, festivities last three weeks and include a Grand Parade, Dragon Boat races and night markets.
Sydney, New South Wales
February - March
The Sydney Mardi Gras is the world’s premier gay and lesbian cultural festival, spanning two weeks in February and March. It is a colourful and outrageous demonstration of pride and diversity. During the Grand Parade, thousands of people make their way down Oxford Street through Sydney’s Darlinghurst on colourful floats, with huge crowds cheering on in support. The fun doesn't end with the parade, with tens of thousands of party-goers dancing till dawn at the official Mardi Gras Party. The Fair Day launch offers a relaxed day out for friends and family, complete with a giant picnic and outdoor entertainment.
Melbourne Flower & Garden Show
Each Autumn, the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show returns in a festival of colour and floral design at the World Heritage-listed Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens. It is the biggest annual flower and garden show in the southern hemisphere. The festival showcases the creativity and passion of Australia's top floral and landscape designers delivered in stunning displays. There is also great food and entertainment for the whole family. The Carlton Gardens are a striking example of late 19th century gardens, with tree-lined avenues, miniature lakes and plenty of places to relax and enjoy one of Melbourne’s green spaces.
Melbourne Fashion Festival
Melbourne has long been regarded as Australia’s fashion and shopping capital. During the [L’Oreal] Melbourne Fashion Festival, the city comes alive in an annual month-long celebration of fashion, design and creativity. The week-long stylish event includes runway shows featuring Australia’s established and emerging models and designers, state-of-the art production, beauty workshops, industry seminars and forums and live entertainment. An accompanying Cultural Program engages fashion-loving audiences in an exciting range of activities across the city. The ‘Famous for Fashion’ event takes on another dimension focusing on Melbourne's iconic fashion precincts of Chapel and High Street previewing the latest autumn and winter trends.
Sydney, New South Wales
In March, the fashionable flock to Sydney for the spring/summer shows at [Mercedes Benz] Australian Fashion Week. Style-setters and celebrities gather to be updated on the next seasonal trends and the latest creations from their favourite Australian designers. This is an industry event although special VIP package tours will take you behind the scenes. During Sydney Fashion Week in August you’ll get to see the best of the May collections at the same time they arrive in stores. Make sure to explore Sydney’s shopping precincts, such as Paddington’s Oxford St and the historic Queen Victoria Building in the CBD.
Melbourne Comedy Festival
The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is one of the three largest comedy festivals in the world and the largest in the southern hemisphere. For three and a half weeks each year, Melbourne becomes the centre of the comedy universe with an extensive program of stand-up comedy, cabaret, theatre, street performance, film, television, radio and visual arts. With attendances of more than 600,000 people, it has grown to be one of Australia's largest cultural events. There is something for every comedy lover with the best local and international comedy acts performed in venues of all shapes and sizes across the city.
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
In 2013 the Centenary of Canberra presents an ideal opportunity for Australians and visitors to get closer to the nation’s capital, both the city itself and its national and symbolic roles. The year-long program will present an exciting array of events showcasing the best of Canberra and its people and milestones that have shaped Australian history. The Centenary of Canberra celebrates the history and heritage of one of the world’s great cities; at the same time highlighting its lively present and bright future. It’s an opportunity for all to celebrate the story of our country's freedom, spirit, achievements and aspirations.
Ten Days on the Island is Tasmania’s premier celebration of island culture. It features international artists from island cultures across the globe and some of Australia's finest talent, performing in more than 100 venues and 60 locations around the island. Visitors can get off the beaten track, with performances held in sheds and barns, stately homes, halls, museums and theatres across the state. See and hear extraordinary works as the artists tell the stories of how island life has shaped their dance, theatre, music, opera, film, literature, and cuisine. The event is held every two years and will next be held in 2013.
ANZAC Day, held on 25 April every year, is one of Australia's most important national occasions. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during the First World War. Dawn services and marches are held in towns and cities across the country, where Australians gather to pay their respects to the soldiers who have served. The national ceremony, attended by the Prime Minister and Governor General, is held at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. ANZAC Day is a time when Australians reflect on the many different meanings of war.
Sydney, New South Wales
The Sydney Royal Easter Show is Australia's largest annual event. It is an iconic showcase of Australian culture, heritage and agricultural excellence, combining world-class competitions and educational activities with the fun of carnival rides, entertainment and great food and wine experiences for a fun filled day with family or friends. Country and city combine in this tribute to Australia’s agricultural heritage. From the Australian themed night time main arena entertainment and international rodeo series through to high dive and unicyclist shows and circus workshops, the Sydney Royal Easter Show is great fun for the young and young at heart.
The Noosa Longweekend Festival
Based in Noosa on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, the Noosa International Food and Wine Festival is one of Australia’s premier food and wine events. The festival features a line-up of more than 200 leading international and national chefs, iconic winemakers, high profile food and wine media, restaurateurs and serious food lovers, who converge on the seaside setting of Noosa to taste, talk, debate, dine and indulge over four days. The festival features an exciting combination of events including long lunches, wine tasting, food trail adventures, concerts, degustation menus, guest chef dinners, produce markets and cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs.
Adelaide, South Australia
The OzAsia Festival aims to engage audiences in the traditional and contemporary cultures of Asia. The festival, run by the Adelaide Festival Centre, was established in 2007 and is held annually for approximately ten days in September or October (according to the lunar calendar). The Festival presents work by Australian artists that identify with an Asian heritage, and stages collaborative works between Australian and Asian artists. Events include theatre, dance, music, film, visual arts, food and design culture. A highlight is the Moon Lantern Festival which sees around 20,000 people in Elder Park sharing in a traditional Asian lantern ceremony.
Adelaide, South Australia
The Feast Festival was started in 1997 a by group of arts and community cultural workers who wanted to create a community arts festival for the lesbian and gay community in Adelaide. It is now a major event on the festival calendar in South Australia, bringing performers from around the world and attracting international audiences. The CommUNITY Weekend features art markets, workshops, outdoor games, picnics and dance classes aimed at the gay and lesbian community. There is also a visual arts exhibition featuring a wide range of established and emerging Australian and international artists.
Adelaide, South Australia
The Adelaide Christmas Pageant has been an annual tradition since 1933. From humble beginnings of horse drawn floats and just four bands, the event has grown to include 63 motorised floats, 15 bands, 10 dancing groups, clowns and 1700 performers. Join the crowds that line the route through Adelaide's city centre to welcome the festive season. Watch the amazing parade of storybook floats and marching bands. A previous pageant scored a Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of people wearing red noses. The Christmas Pageant is an event where the whole family can enjoy the spirit of Christmas and community.
In Australia the Christmas and New Year's Eve period occurs when summer is in full-swing. It’s a completely different experience to Christmas in the cold northern hemisphere. There are plenty of festivities, including carol singing by candlelight in city parks, thrilling sporting competitions, and world-class cultural events. Australia is on holidays and all around the country there are a variety of ways to experience the Australian lifestyle and meet the locals. Join in a picnic on Bondi Beach, a tradition now enjoyed by travellers from around the world who gather on Christmas Day to swap gifts, feast, and swim and have fun.
Brisbane, Adelaide, Darwin, Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra
Throughout the year Australian cities present a series of major arts festivals, showcasing local and international theatre, dance, visual arts, music, food and wine. Join Sydneysiders on the streets for the Sydney Festival. Be immersed in culture at the Melbourne International Arts Festival. Watch fireworks over the Brisbane River during the Brisbane Festival. The Adelaide Festival is one of the world’s greatest arts events. Enjoy summertime at the Perth International Arts Festival. Combine cuisine and culture at Hobart’s Taste of Tasmania Festival. Experience Top End culture at the Darwin Festival. Celebrate Australia’s diversity at the National Multicultural Festival in Canberra.