Free outdoor events around Australia
When the budget is tight but the sun is bright, these are the events you want to beeline for.
Fresh air and free of charge? That’s a surprisingly easy brief Down Under. We tend to make the most of our clean, cared-for gardens and parks, while also accommodating everyone with entry-free entertainment. Meaning, you can go to town on food and drink.
Here are a few free events to get you started, where BYO isn’t frowned upon and vibe is guaranteed.
Summer Concerts in the Park, Perth
When your live music itch starts to flare up again, but you have no pocket money to scratch it, events like this are your saviour. These leafy outdoor settings in Western Australia make for an excellent picnic opportunity, so stock up on your cheeses and wine in advance. If you forget your wicker basket of treats, chill, because there’s a sausage sizzle (read: BBQ with sausages), pizza and ice-cream on site. The other bonus behind Summer Concerts in the Park is, as a backpacker, you get to sample the local sounds – which is often very hard to do in a new city.
Poolside Sunday sessions, Fremantle
If you’re not within 10 metres of a swimming pool at all times, you’re probably doing summer wrong. At this Sunday session in Fremantle, Western Australia, this mission is accomplished for you. Let us paint you a little picture: clear blue skies, a poolside bar and DJ churning out chilled beats. Pick a Sunday between mid-February and mid-March, send out a group text and slip into your swimmers.
Stirling Fringe, Adelaide Hills
Prepare every single one of your senses, because Adelaide Hills Fringe Festival is on its way. Don’t be fooled by the pocket-size of this cute little event on the Stirling Lawns outside Coventry Library: there is a lot going on. With 90 different performances, 38 different shows and 80 different artists from all over the world, we’d be shocked if you didn’t find something up your alley. This baby is free, so it’s fine if you forget your wallet, but it’s also in the blazing sunshine, so don’t forget your SPF.
Sunset session at Adelaide Festival Centre
Spend your balmy summer night listening to local live music. This is the perfect free outdoor event to enjoy with your other budgeting mates – or to maybe take a first date, as the setting sun and outdoor acoustics pretty much spoon-feed romantic vibes to you. The performances happen at Riverdeck and on the Northern Promenade and feature some of Adelaide's snazziest musicians. Take a peek at their calendar before you go, so that you know what you’re in for.
Mardi Gras, Sydney
“Hold the glitter,” said no one at Mardi Gras, ever. In fact, get ready to wear your most minxy underwear as outerwear and torpedo onto a float in the parade - because that’s what this infectious spirit does to people. The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras generally runs for around two weeks, where the city explodes with rainbow vibrance and free activities. The pièce de résistance, however, is the parade. Which, by the way, is also free.
Chinese New Year, various locations
Get ready for dragons, firecrackers, delish food and slammin’ song and dance when Oz welcomes Chinese New Year. Also known as the Lunar New Year and celebrated by cultures including Vietnamese and Korean, this event runs in February and is always marked in striking style with events from the Brisbane races to karaoke on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. No matter what city you’re in, you can enjoy the free spoils.
Moomba Festival, Melbourne
Every year, usually in early March, Melbourne’s Moomba festival offers the perfect cure for budget boredom. In fact, if you plonk yourself in a prime position along the Yarra River in Victoria during the festival, you’ll be front and centre for the best of Moomba. This free community festival includes a bunch of unique events, such as the Birdman Rally (which involves participants leaping across the river while wearing wings), the Moomba Parade and the fireworks display.
Watch Sydney become electrified with light installations and projections when Vivid switches on in May and June. This annual event attracts more than 2.3 million visitors who just can’t take their eyeballs off the light. Historic sights such as the Sydney Opera House, Customs House, the Museum of Contemporary Art and Taronga Zoo become illuminated in brilliant colour. The program is largely free to behold, including creative conferences, talks and workshops - but some of the big-ticket music performances may cost you a buck or two.
Vissla Central Coast Pro presented by Slimes Boardstore
Are you tunnel-visioned by tunnels? Getting barrelled over by barrels? Is your heart swelling over the swell? Sorry, we’ll stop. Lucky for you people, the New South Wales coastline plays host every year to the Vissla NSW Pro Surf Series, kicking off in January when the four World Surf League Qualifying Series events are normally scheduled. Yeeewww!!
Alright, we know, we won’t shut up about Enlighten Festival. That’s because it is the highLIGHT of free events in the Australian Capital Territory (see what we did there?).
Kicking off in early March each year, Canberra electrifies with stunning light installations and free fun such as live music, street art, fireworks and art installations. You’ll need tickets for some things, so make sure you take a good look at the program for what’s free before you leave the house.