Spring in the Hunter Valley is when the wineries and rolling hills are the backdrop for outdoor opera, jazz, blues and sculpture. Relax with a gourmet picnic hamper at Bimbadgen Blues. See world-renowned tenors perform at Opera in the Vineyards. Savour saxophone riffs and fine wine at Jazz in the Vines. Follow an art trail at Sculpture in the Vineyards or wind through exuberant blooms at the Festival of the Flowers.
See spring flowers riot in their hundreds and thousands at the Festival of Flowers, which takes over the Hunter Valley Gardens in September and October. Wander through themed spaces such as the Children's Storybook Garden, Rose Garden and Oriental Garden. Check out the displays, giggle at the roving entertainers and get gardening tips on talks and tours. For children there’s a daily nursery “thyme” amongst the scented blooms.
You can mellow musically into spring at Bimbadgen Blues, a blues and roots festival held on Bimbadgen Estate in September. Try award-winning wines and restaurant delicacies as you give yourself over to two stages of grooves. Past performers have included the 11-piece powerhouse band Blue King Brown and the deliriously catchy The Panics.
For a truly transporting performance, don’t miss Opera in the Vineyards, held each October on the green lawn of Wyndham Estate. In 1990, the world watched spellbound as the original three tenors made operatic history amongst Roman ruins. Decades on, experience this same rapture at the Hunter Valley’s open-air tribute event. Listen to three internationally acclaimed tenors perform powerful classic such as O Sole Mio, Nessun Dorma, and La Donna e mobile. Enjoy regional gourmet delights at the food and wine fair, then settle in to enjoy the magical evening performance from your picnic rug or seat in the marquee.
Both art and wine lovers will adore Sculpture in the Vineyards, a free outdoor exhibition held across five boutique wineries on the Wollombi Valley Wine Trail. From October until January, you can meander through the scenic Wollombi Valley to see more than 60 sculptures and sample local wine at the cellar doors. In these unique outdoor galleries, works by local and international artists sit amongst poplar trees, next to sandstone cottages and alongside tranquil brooks.
At Jazz in the Vines, held at the end of October, restaurants, wineries and jazz musicians spoil all your senses in a very relaxed spring picnic. Try wine from six big-name wineries and tasting plates from a host of local restaurant. Dance on the grass to Dixieland jazz and Cuban rhythms, or sip a smooth red to match the seductive sound of the saxophone. The festival delivers seven hours of non-stop music across two stages, with previous line-ups featuring Australia’s jazz icons such as James Morrison and Renee Geyer.
When the bands stop playing, take a shuttle bus back to Sydney or head back to your bed and breakfast or boutique accommodation. Turn your spring festival into a spring break and explore more of the area’s wineries and historic villages. Create your own Hunter Valley adventure on a bushwalk, tandem skydive or hot air balloon trip over the vineyards.
Spring in the Hunter Valley is a fertile time for more than just grapes.