Sydney / Lifestyle / Australian Festivals to Tick Off Your Bucket List

Australian Festivals to Tick Off Your Bucket List

Hurrah! Spring has  finally sprung. The countdown to summer is on – and that can only mean one thing: festival season is almost upon on us. Promising a smorgasboard of hedonistic delights, this year’s delicious music line-up is guaranteed to have you hooked. From Aussie giants to boutique wonders, we’ve whittled down the best festivals of the season to add to your summer calendar.

So, festival queens everywhere: get ready to feast on feathers and bucketloads of glitter, these are the 2018/2019 music festivals you won’t want to miss out on. 

Return to Rio

The Riopians are set to return to Sydney’s favourite Del Rio Riverside Resort this year for another weekend of madcap mayhem. Get ready for a three-day blow out of big beats and laid-back summer grooves, as Return to Rio once again spreads her wings. A festival with all the frills, this theatrical extravaganza goes all out with outlandish costumes, giant river floats, water skiing, crazy golf, tennis, cocktails by the pool, and the some of the biggest names in house, soul, disco and hip-hop. Greg Wilson, Roni Size, Skream and Sasha are on this year’s line-up – so disco queens, don your best festival get-up. For downtime, be sure to indulge in some yoga and meditation, or a quick bite and cocktail by the pool. Accommodation options include luxury glamping (think beautiful bell tents with aaaall the trimmings), camping, BYO campers/caravans, or floating houseboat. Excited much?

When? 9-11 November 2018

Where? Del Rio Wisemans Ferry, Webbs Creek, NSW

How much? Day tickets from $130; Weekend tickets from $300

Grapevine Gathering

A music, food and wine-fuelled haven, Grapevine Gathering is as refined as they come serving a delicious line-up of indie, dance and alternative grooves, alongside wood-fired pizzas, gourmet burgers, slow-cooked meats and dangerously moreish, homegrown wines. With two locations, set in the picturesque Yarra and Hunter Valley, prepare to kick back and relax to the sounds of The Wombats, Client Liaison, Dom Dolla, Miami Horror, with a glass – or two – of shiraz in hand. This one-day wine-fest is one seriously snazzy bouquet. Bottoms up.

When? 24 November 2018 Yara Valley; 1 December 2018 Hunter Valley

Where? Rochford Winery, Yarra Valley, Victoria; Roche Estate, Hunter Valley, NSW

How much? From $96.90


Small yet perfectly formed, Fairgrounds is one of the hottest newcomers on the Aussie festival scene. And with good reason. Set in Berry’s idyllic countryside – just two hours from Sydney – festival goers have the best of both worlds: lush mountains, beautiful beaches, and an indie line-up that could rival any Glastonbury set list. Now back for its third year, fans will once again flock to the pretty town of Shoalhaven for two days of carnival-themed frolics. This year’s line-up includes the likes of punk stalwart Billy Bragg, indie rockers The Breeders, Chicago rapper Saba, along with local legends Pond, Winston Surfshirt, Maddy Jane, and Sampa The Great. To accompany its stellar line-up, there are plenty of delicious food options – including Paperbark Camp’s pop-up restaurant – serving an array of local treats, a mini-Fairgrounds festival for little ones, a swimming pool, record fair, and games-a-plenty. Tug-o-war, egg-and-spoon or sack racing anyone?

When? 30 November – 1 December 2018

Where? Shoalhaven, Berry, NSW

How much? Two-day tickets from $169.90; one-day tickets from $109.90


A feast of the senses, Subsonic is a festival like no other. Disappear down the rabbit hole into a world of mystery, where the lush sloping hills of Riverwood Downs magically transform into a land of glittery, psychedelic sparkles, pink flamingos and dreamlike shamanic rituals. Burning Man playas – Subsonic is calling.  Look forward to three days of explosive DJ sets with some of the hottest names in dance, electro, techno, house and trance (this year look forward to Honey Dijon, Andhim, Raresh, Zip, Klute, Jayda G and Batu) along with theatrical stage sets, elaborate costumes, burlesque shows, friendly crowds, chic stalls filled with fashion, crafts and delicious food, and a rippling river providing essential ‘cool-down’ from the blistering sun. Magical, hedonistic and gloriously euphoric, Subsonic is a festival that ticks all  the boxes.

When?  30 November – 2 December 2018

Where?  Riverwood Downs, NSW

How much?  Weekend tickets $350

Beyond The Valley

Returning once again to the lush surrounds of Lardner parklands in south-eastern Victoria, festival queens can celebrate the New Year in true party style, with a sumptuous selection of artists spinning techno, indie, hip-hop, disco, house, techno and much, much more. Headlining this year will be ‘90s Brit-pop rockers The Kooks, trip-hop electro king Bonobo, Joey Badass, Duke Dumont, Pnau, Tash Sultana and Fisher, as well as special DJ sets from Foals and the utterly mesmerising Fleetmac Wood. Stevie Nicks fans, you’d better practice your twirling – this is a disco set you don’t want to miss. 

When? 28 December – 1 January 2019

Where? Lardner, Victoria

How much? Four-day tickets $430; three-day tickets $390; NYE Pass $180 (includes camping)

Origin Fields Festival

Western Australia’s biggest New Year festival, Origins boasts an eclectic line-up of diverse acts, with everything from pop and rock, to indie and grime. Look forward to two days of unadulterated, festive fun as The Kooks, MIA, Pendulum, Chase & Status and Bonobo all take to the stage at Origins’ shiny new location.

When? 30-31 December 2018

Where? Langley Park, Perth, WA

How much? Day tickets from $179.90; Weekend tickets from $331.95

Falls Festival

This national festival heavy-hitter – a perennial favourite for any festival calendar – will be ringing in the New Year with a bang. A ‘Toto’ power ballad bang, to be precise. The legendary 80s rockers will be belting out ‘Africa’ alongside indie rockers Interpol, Chvrches, Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals, Vance Park and Flight Facilities, among many more. One of the most hotly anticipated music events of the season, Falls Festival promises a melting pot of alternative music with a generous serve of fun.

When? 29-31 December 2018, Marion Bay; 31 December 2018 – 2 January 2019 Byron Bay; 5-6 January 2019 Freemantle

Where? Marion Bay Tasmania; Byron Bay NSW; Fremantle WA

How much? Two-day tickets $275.60; three-day tickets $326.58

Lost Paradise

If the thought of spending New Year’s Eve in a nightclub fills you with complete dread, Lost Paradise may be the answer to your party prayers. Held in the beautiful Glenworth Valley, just an hour north of Sydney, Lost Paradise is a hidden wonderland of late-night discos, art installations, heavenly massages, yoga classes, karaoke, bouncy castles, communal dining experiences and impressive pop-up foodie offerings, all hidden away in the depths of the wilderness. Four days of “mind-blowing” fun, this is a New Year’s Eve party to get excited about. Acts on this year’s bill include Peking Duck, M.I.A, The Kooks, Bicep and Foals. And fancy dress is mandatory. Dust off those headdresses, girls.

Can’t face camping? Go off grid and stay in the luxe teepee Glamping Village. With concierge, luxury toilets and showers, a breakfast café, cocktail bar, grooming parlour and a complimentary porter-trolley service to transport your bags to your beautifully prepped boudoir – think double beds, Moroccan textiles and pretty lanterns-galore – believe us, it’ll be worth the splurge.

When? 28 December 2018 – 1 January 2019

Where? The Glenworth Valley, NSW

How much? 4-day tickets (including camping) From $409

Field Day

Returning to The Domain on 1 January, Field Day will bring in the New Year with an epic line-up of big beats and raucous revelry. Mixing hip-hop, house, indie, and electronic artists from around the world, Field Day promises to carry on the New Year party vibes well past midnight (if you’re planning on going, you might want to book off the 2 Jan in advance). This year look forward to sets from Duke Dumont, Bonobo, Chvrches, Alice Ivy, Flight Facilities and Migos.

When? 1 January 2019

Where? The Domain, Sydney

How much? Tickets from $155 + booking fee

Electric Gardens

From the brains behind London’s legendary ‘90s dancefest South West Four, founders Damian Gelle and Anton Marmot’s latest DJ-fuelled spectacle is back on homegrown Aussie soils, ready to launch into its fourth year. Set in Centennial Park, Electric Gardens will once again welcome the crème de la crème of electronica with a dizzying line-up of world-class talent. Look forward to the likes of Fatboy Slim, Underworld, Erick Morillo, Patrick Topping and Eats Everything, with many more to be announced. Plus this year, legendary Ibiza clubsters Amnesia will descend on Sydney with an entourage of hedonistic dancers,  beaming lasers and explosive cannons. 

When? Melbourne: 18 January 2018; Perth: 19 January 2019; Sydney: 26 January 2019; Adelaide: 27 January 2019; Auckland 2 February 219

Where?  Belvoir Parklands, Perth; Centennial Park, Sydney; Serafino Wines, Adelaide; Ellerslie Racecourse, Auckland, NZ; Melbourne location TBC

How much?  Ticketsfrom $130

Rainbow Serpent

For hardcore partygoers, Rainbow Serpent’s explosive two-day party session will have you hooked from the start. And when we say two days, we mean two days – the festivities run morning, noon and night. And then right through till morning again. Rainbow Serpent is not  one for the fainthearted. A magical woodland of bright lights, beautiful installations and rolling Victorian countryside, where art, music and culture collide. Promising endless revelry, look forward to an atmospheric mix of DJs, producers and live bands spinning every groove under the sun. This has Burning Man written all  over it.

When? 25-28 January 2019

Where? Lexton, Victoria

How much? From $395

St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival

When the likes of Kevin Parker (Tame Impala) label Laneway as “Australia’s best festival”, who are we to argue? In fact, we’re jumping right on the band wagon to get a taste of the action. This much-loved, long-standing music-fest is an indie-rocker’s mecca, each year showcasing some of the biggest, most exciting names on the Australian music scene. Starting out as a hole-in-the-wall pub in Melbourne, Laneway has quickly become one of Australia’s biggest festivals – there are now locations in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Fremantle and Auckland – each year boasting an impeccably cool line-up of homegrown and international talent. This year includes everyone from Sydney’s Gang of Youths, Melbourne’s Camp Cope, Aussie singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett and electronic music duo Cosmo’s Midnight, to American rapper Denzel Curry, English electro producer Jon Hopkins, and New York punk rockers, Parquet Courts.

When? 28 January 2019 Auckland; 2 February Brisbane; 3 February Sydney; 8 February Adelaide; 9 February Melbourne; 10 February Freemantle

Where? Albert Park Precinct Auckland; Brisbane Showgrounds, Bowen Hills; Callan Park, Rozelle, Sydney; Harts Mill, Port Adelaide; Footscray Park, Melbourne; Esplanade Reserve and West End, Freemantle

How much? $139 + booking fee

Secret Garden

A magical deep forest adventure where the disco doesn’t stop. Well, for 48 hours it doesn’t. Located just an hour from Sydney, this enchanted, glittery utopia is a partying paradise, where music, dance, performance, food and theatre entwine. Feathers and whimsical fancy dress waft through the fairy-lit foliage, whilst buzzing soundtracks beckon through the towering, jungly trees. The line-up is never announced until tickets are sold out (note to self: this jungle rave is always a sell-out), but if previous years are anything to go by – think DZ Death Rays, Holy Holy, Alex Lahey, The Jezabels and Japanese Wallpaper – you won’t be disappointed. Plus, all profits made from the festival are shared out between the organisers’ chosen charities, for that added feel-good factor. Uplifting, joyous and wildly intoxicating, Secret Garden is one 2019 festival not to be missed.

When?  23 – 24 February 2019

Where?  Downs Family Farm, NSW

How much?  Two-night disco $219.37; one hot night $167.15

Bluesfest Byron Bay

With its 30th anniversary looming, Bluesfest’s five-day spectacle is set to be a big one, with plenty of big names tipped to head the bill. A festival in the truest sense – less of the frills, more of the musical kicks – each year music lovers of all ages gather together in Tyagarah Tea Farm’s stunning Byron surrounds, to hear the reverberating pulse of blues, roots, country, pop, reggae, folk, hip-hop and jazz. A long list of musical greats have graced the stage over the years – think Bob Dylan, James Brown, Robert Plant, Iggy Pop and Led Zeppelin – and next year is no exception, with the likes of David Gray, Jack Johnson, Ben Harper, Hozier and Paul Kelly, all set to take to take to the stage. Laid-back, family-friendly with a side serving of fun, this annual Blues-a-thon is a guaranteed must for any festival goer.

When? 18 – 20 April 2019

Where? Tyagarah Tea Farm, Byron Bay, NWS

How much? Day tickets $180; 3 day $450; 5 day $625

Splendour in the Grass

An eclectic Australian gem, Splendour in the Park brings together some of the world’s biggest bands to the scenic setting of Byron Bay, for three days of interrupted rock, pop, indie, hip-hop, electronica and much, much more. As well as colossal headliners – previous years have seen everyone from The Strokes, Coldplay, Bloc Part, Outkast and James Bay – you’ll find comedy shows, philosophical discussions, art installations, dance and circus workshops, plus a range of artisan food stalls and craft markets where you can stock up on local handmade delicacies. Fancy.

When? 2019 dates to be announced – watch this space

Where? North Byron Highlands, NSW

How much? Ticket prices TBC


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