New Year's Eve fireworks, Sydney Harbour, NSW © City of Sydney
Australia's biggest parties and celebrations
Australians sure do love a good party. Feel the Aussie spirit and hang out with the locals at one of these major celebrations.
For a country with a comparatively small population of 24 million, Australia punches above its weight with some of the biggest celebrations in the world. Get ready for the festivities with fireworks, sporting spectaculars, live music and parties that will rock your socks off.
New Year's Eve fireworks in Sydney
Sydney’s famous New Year’s Eve fireworks spectacular is a display that wows visitors from across the globe. The captivating show ignites Sydney Harbour’s night sky to send off the year and welcome in a new one. The family fireworks kick off at 9pm, followed by the mesmerising midnight show that launches from the Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House and barges around the harbour. Before and in-between the shows, there will be a range of entertainment and activities around the foreshore and Royal Botanic Gardens to celebrate the new year.
Australian Open in Melbourne
The Australian Open brings the world’s hottest players to Melbourne for two weeks of tennis thrills during January. More than 550,000 spectators attend one of the biggest sporting events in Australia. ‘The Happy Slam,’ as Roger Federer likes to call the Grand Slam tennis tournament, is an opportunity to watch tennis’s biggest sporting stars battle it out on the court and to explore the urban culture of Melbourne. Join the vibrant atmosphere in and around the city with matches broadcast on big screens at festive beer gardens, pubs and live music events.
Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in Sydney
As part of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (March), Oxford Street in the city's east transforms into a parade of pride, love and protest. And the Mardi Gras Parade gets bigger every year. LGBTQIA+ groups flaunt a dazzling performance down one of Sydney's busiest streets with dance, music and wow-factor floats. It attracts thousands of local and global punters who gather for one spectacular night, so dress in your best glitzy attire and come join in on the festival of love.
Adelaide Fringe Festival
The Adelaide Fringe Festival (February/March) is South Australia's biggest party with shows playing in 500 venues scattered across Adelaide and the wider state. Whether you're a comedy addict, theatre buff or arts lover, you'll find something surprising around every corner during this open-access arts festival.
Riverfire in Brisbane
Along Brisbane’s popular Southbank precinct, the Sunsuper Riverfire will take to the night sky for a spectacular fireworks display, sending Brisbane Festival (September) off with a bang! The fireworks dazzle the night sky in explosive colours for more than 20 minutes to kick-start the festival of art, dance, cabaret, theatre and more.
AFL Grand Final in Melbourne
The Australian Football League (AFL) is huge in Australia, with the AFL Grand Final being one of the biggest events on the sports calendar. It kicks off in September in the AFL heartland of Melbourne and it’s so much more than just scoring goals – the state of Victoria allocates AFL Grand Final Day a public holiday, so people from across Australia flock to the state to join the festivities. There will be the Grand Final Parade that attracts more than 60,000 fans to witness team players ride on Utes (trucks) down the city streets, AFL-themed events across pubs, parks, Federation Square and the MCG stadium. Once the full-time whistle has blown, the MCG welcomes the public to a free Premiership party inside the stadium with local and international musicians taking the stage.
Melbourne Cup Day, across Australia
On the first Tuesday of November, Australians across the nation stop to celebrate the Melbourne Cup, a major annual horse racing event. Whether you are cheering on horses at the track, drinking beer at a pub in the outback or lunching at one of the many restaurants throughout the country, Melbourne Cup Day is an event that everyone gets involved in. You've never experienced a horse race that virtually takes over a country, with each bar, restaurant and café hosting Cup-inspired events. Dress up, place a bet, and enjoy a long lunch with a nail biting ending.
Lunar New Year, across Australia
Get ready for dragons, firecrackers, fantastic food and spectacular song and dance as Australians celebrate Lunar New Year. There are colourful, exuberant events across the country, spanning over two weeks. The Lunar New Year celebrations in Sydney are usually centred around Chinatown, while in Brisbane you'll see Fortitude Valley come to life. In Melbourne and Perth, head to the hub of excitement in each city's respective Chinatown for street parades, dances and games.