Arts and Culture

A Guide to Winter Events and Festivals Around Australia

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Winter in Australia is not an invitation to hibernate. Sure, temperatures have dropped and the days have grown shorter, but that doesn’t mean you need to say goodbye to the outside world once the chilly season sets in. There are so many winter activities, festivals, and events happening across the country, so it’s time to pull on your beanie and explore the many things to do in Australia in winter.

New South Wales

Vivid Sydney

There’s no better way to celebrate the darker days of winter than with a festival of light. Vivid is a captivating winter festival in Sydney that incorporates a public exhibition of outdoor lighting, sculptures, displays, and installations, all accompanied by some stellar live music. Best of all, it’s free.

More winter events in NSW: Bello Winter Music, Winter Magic Festival, Hunter Valley Food and Wine Festival, Byron Writers Festival, Sydney Film Festival, Bathurst Winter Festival.

Victoria

The Shortest Lunch

Don’t let the name fool you: this lunch can be as long and as lazy as you like. Hosted in the Yarra Valley, the Shortest Lunch takes place during the winter solstice, and is a celebration of the shortest days of the year. Spend the day roaming between the cellar doors of more than a dozen boutique wineries, eating and wine tasting as you go. There are open fires to warm you up and live music to dance along to, making for one heart warming day in Australia’s chilliest season.

Snow Dance Festival

Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to go skiing in Australia, with the alpine ranges of NSW and Victoria receiving a good dumping of snow over the winter months. To kick off the ski season, Dinner Plain hosts the Giant Snow Dance Festival on the Queen’s Birthday weekend. Music will be blasting to get you into the spirit, with hot chocolate, gluhwein, and strudel all available. In the evening, you’ll be treated to a fireworks display as the winter season is official opened for the ski fields.

More winter events in VIC: Winter Wonderlights at Sovereign Hill, Melbourne International Film Festival, Winery Walkabout, Winter Wine Weekend.

Tasmania

Dark Mofo

As winter festivals in Australia go, Dark Mofo in Hobart is undoubtedly one of the most unique. Organised by the city’s incredible Museum of New Art (MONA), Dark Mofo is an extraordinary event that explores the ancient winter solstice rituals, with numerous festivities held over the fortnight. Some of the highlights include the annual Winter Feast and the Nude Solstice Swim, where hundreds of brave people strip down and plunge into the Derwent River at sunrise to welcome back the light after enduring the year’s longest night.

More winter events in TAS: Festival of Voices, Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival, Tasmanian Whisky Week, Devonport Jazz.

South Australia

Adelaide Cabaret Festival

Lovers of art, theatre, and really good music flock to Adelaide in June to take in this annual festival. The event showcases classic and contemporary performances from local, national, and international acts, with past events having featured the likes of Dame Edna Everage, Idina Menzel, Dita Von Teese, Olivia Newton-John, Molly Ringwald, and Paul Kelly.

More winter events in SA: Sea & Vines Festival, Winter Reds, Adelaide Beer & BBQ Festival, Umbrella Winter City Sounds, South Australian Living Arts Festival.

Queensland

Noosa Alive

One of the best performing arts and cultural festivals in Australia, Noosa Alive features music, dance, literature, food, drink – you name it, you can find it here! Held over ten days, the festival entertains visitors with musical performances, comedy shows, plays, films, workshops, incredible food, and so much more.

More winter events in SA: Regional Flavours Festival, Brisbane Good Food Month, Winter Harvest Festival, Jumpers and Jazz in July, The Curated Plate.

Western Australia

Cabin Fever Margaret River

Winter getaways don’t get much more sublime than this. The Margaret River region is one of Australia’s best wine destinations, and for 10 days in July, visitors are offered the perfect opportunity to head out into the chilly air for high quality wine, hearty comfort food, bonfires, and all around good times. This gourmet event comes complete with more than 20 unique events throughout the region, so it’s best to book some accommodation and escape into wine country for a few days.

More winter events in WA: City Wine, Truffle Kerfuffle, Revelation Perth International Film Festival, A Taste of Broome.

Northern Territory

The Camel Cup

The name says it all, really. Every year, on the second Saturday in July, camels and their riders will race along outback tracks in Alice Springs to the delight of spectators. There are many other events taking place throughout the day though, including the rickshaw races, the Kids Kamel Dapers hobby camel race, belly dancing, rides, and the Mr and Mrs Camel Cup challenges. Add in the food stalls and bars and you have yourself one truly unique winter festival.

More winter events in NT: Darwin Festival, Alice Springs Beanie Festival.

Feature image: Vivid Sydney 2018. Credit: Nigel Howe | CC BY-NC 2.0

Maddison is a freelance writer specialising in adventure travel. She has written for titles in Europe, Asia and North America, and is currently planning her next escape to somewhere mountainous.

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