Summer in the Northern Hemisphere is coming to an end, but here in Australia, things are just starting to heat up (pun intended)! One of my favourite things about summer in Australia, other than the beach and warm weather, of course, is the summer music scene! It’s almost time for the 2014/2015 Australian Music Festival season and I couldn’t be more excited!
Music plays a huge role in the culture of Australians today. It’s something I didn’t really understand when I first came to visit Australia in 2010, but over the last year of experiencing it first-hand I finally get it! It doesn’t matter how old you are or what type of music you listen to, there is something here for everyone.
Top 10 Australian Music Festivals
If you are traveling to Australia in the next 6 months and would like to explerience a piece of Australian culture, then here is a list to get your started. In chronological order, here are some of the biggest and most famous Australian Music Festivals.
1. Listen Out
Listen Out, held in early October in Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Sydney, and Melbourne, is a fairly new kid on the block. In 2013, Listen Out entered the Australian Music Festival stage as a successor of the previously wildly popular Parklife Festival and it didn’t disappoint. Listen Out is positioned to be an antidote to many of the things you don’t like about big music festivals. It’s going for better rather than bigger, promising to take away the constant struggles of time table crashes, and long walks from one stage to another, labelling the day as a “party”, rather than a “festival”. After a successful debut last year, their 2014 line-up that features the likes of Flume, Chet Faker, and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs.
At this point, tickets to Listen Out will set you back by $130. More info available here
Stereosonic is an electronic and dance music festival held at the end of November/beginning of December in Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Sydney, and Melbourne. In 2013, Stereosonic was expanded to a 2-day festival format, which undoubtedly helped it earn the title of the “fastest growing Australian Music Festival”. This year the line-up features Calvin Harris, Tiesto, Disclosure, Skrillex, Steve Aoki, Porter Robinson, Alesso, and dozens of other international DJs. Stereosonic is an 18+ event, drawing a bit of an older crowd compared to some other festivals.
The cost of attending Stereosonic is $225 for a 2 day pass. Tickets can be purchased here
Falls Festival, held from Dec 29th- January 1st, is arguably the best way to spend New Year’s in Australia. Almost 20 years in the running, Falls Festival is simultaneously held in Byron Bay, NSW, Lorne, Victoria and Marion Bay, Tasmania and is so much more than your typical music festival. Falls Festival features contemporary music performances, dance, comedy, theatre, circus, cabaret, as well as other art forms. Due to the length of the event, Falls is a camping festival. Australians and visitors alike, bring their tents and set up a camp at the event, completely immersing themselves in the spirit of the festival. Falls Festival is particularly popular with the blues & roots crowd, but also draws in crowds of rock, indie, and hip hop fans from across the country.
Tickets to Falls Festival will go on sale on September 3rd and can be obtained here
An alternative to Falls Festival is Woodford Folk Festival also takes place from Dec 27 –Jan 1 in a rural town of Woodford, about 70 km north of Brisbane. Woodford attracts a very different type of crowd, bringing not only music but other cultural performances, comedy, street theatre, dance, and circus to its stages over the 6 days of the festival. One day tickets to Woodford start at $110 and can be purchased here.
St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival is held at the end of January in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Fremantle, along with Auckland, New Zealand and Singapore. The festival started back in 2004, as a small indie music event, but has since gained a lot of popularity, as it expanded to include other genres of music like pop and rock. Rumours about the Festival’s 2015 line-up are already heating up.
Dates and ticket prices for Laneway Festival will likely be announced over the next month or so.
6. Future Music
Held in late February in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, Future Music is another large EDM (electronic dance music) Festival in Australia. In 2014, it was headlined by the likes of Deadmau5, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Phoenix. Unlike Stereosonic, Future Music has always had a nice mix of electronic, dance, and indie rock, drawing in a slightly different, and sometimes more mature crowd. In the past, Future Music featured acts from The Chemical Brothers, The Stone Roses, Bloc Party, and MGMT. The line-up for 2015 is still under wraps, but I have no doubts that it’ll be another great one! Future Music is my personal favourite from this list!
Soundwave, held in late February/early March, originated in Perth back in 2004 and has been touring around the major cities since 2007/2008. Soundwave features local and international artists from various genres including, rock, metal, punk rock and others. Over the years it’s been headlined by the likes of Offspring, Nine Inch Nails, System of a Down, and Metallica. In 2015, Soundwave will be expanding to a 2 day festival, bringing in more acts and more headliners like Faith no More, Soundgarden, and Slipknot.
Soundwave tickets will be going on sale in late August.
8. Blues Fest
Blues Fest is the biggest Blues & Roots festival in Australia, taking place for 5 days over the Easter long weekend in Byron Bay, NSW. Every year Bluesfest attracts over 100,000 blues fans of all ages from all over the country and beyond. In the past Bluesfest has been headlined by artists like Jack Johnson, John Mayer, Dave Matthews Band, Ben Harper, Bob Dylan, and many others.
Info about tickets can be obtained here, although the line-up for 2015 is probably not going to be released for another few months.
Melbourne’s famous annual International Jazz Festival takes place for a week in early June. Unlike the other festivals, the Melbourne Jazz Festival isn’t confined to one venues, but rather takes place in concert halls, arts venues, jazz clubs and throughout the streets of Melbourne, allowing everyone who loves Jazz to find a venue and event suitable for their budget and venue preference. The festival appeal to young and old, to enthusiasts and the uninitiated, and hopes to inspire the love for jazz in everyone.
For more information visit the Melbourne Jazz Festival Website
Splendor is an annual indie rock 3 day festival held at the end of July in Byron Bay, NSW. Tickets are typically pretty expensive (upwards of $350 for the 3 day pass), but the atmosphere and the line-ups normally make it worth the money. Over the years, Splendour has featured some great artists, including Outkast, Mumford and Sons, Coldplay, The Strokes and many others.
This, by no means, is an exhaustive list. No matter what type of music you like, there is bound to be something for you to experience during your trip to Australia.
Are Australian Festivals Safe?
If this is a questions on your mind, you are not alone… Unfortunately, Australian Music Festivals have gotten a bad rep lately. The media sometimes makes it seem like all festivals are dangerous and filled with drug users. The news reports that follow each festivals rarely focus on the amazing shows put on by great artists and are, more often than not, reporting on the number of people arrested for drug possession. Don’t get me wrong, drugs are certainly present at festivals in Australia, but they are not as “in your face” as one might think. It doesn’t make festivals dangerous for those not involved.
I was really nervous about the drug issue going into my first festival. I didn’t know what to expect and if being surrounded by people on drugs would negatively impact my experience in any way or shape. But it didn’t. And if you don’t want it to impact yours, it won’t. My advice is: focus on the music and on really immersing yourself in the amazing show around you. Enjoy the DJs, the bands, and the other performers!
Last Words of Advice…
If you’ve never been to a festival before, you might be wondering what to wear and what to bring along. Don’t stress!
– Grab a singlet, a pair of shorts, and as little other stuff as possible. Lots of girls wear bathing suit tops and guys often go shirtless
– Sunscreen is your best friend. The sun here in Australia is much more serious than it is elsewhere. You want to enjoy your time and not be burned within an hour
– Wear shoes with covered toes that you don’t mind getting dirty. 1000 people will step on your feet throughout the day. Trust me, you don’t want to wear flip flops
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Do you plan on attending an Australian Music Festival during your stay in Australia? Which one of these would be your top choice?