SPORT LEISURE AND OTHER ACTIVITIES

Sydney to Hobart 

Yacht Race

Credit: Destination NSW

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Sizzling summer events in Australia

Australia shines in summer.

A raft of sensational seasonal events are dotted across the land.

Among them are vibrant food and wine festivals, seductive sporting events, and engrossing cultural celebrations.

If you’re looking for things to do in summer, mark these events on your 2023-24 calendar. 

Adelaide Fringe is up there with the best of them. More below. Credit: Meaghan Coles.

Australian food and wine festivals


Tasmania’s Taste of Summer, Hobart, TAS

When: 27 December - January 6

Rebranded in 2022-23 – it was previously known as The Taste of Tasmania – this event should retain its standing as one of the best summer festivals in Australia. The Apple Isle reliably shines brightest at this time, and crowds flock to the vibrant waterfront location of Princes Wharf to let their tastebuds run wild. The state’s most delectable food and boutique beverages are promised via plentiful stallholders, backed by a gamut of musical entertainment.

Nearby park: BIG4 Hobart.

Hobart shines in summer, and Taste is the place to be. Credit: The Taste of Tasmania.

Geelong Beer Festival, VIC

When: 20 January

The Geelong Beer Festival returns to Johnstone Park on January 20th, and it's got a fresh new vibe and big headliner in Bag Raiders! Get set for a brew-tiful time as this festival showcases the best in food, drinks, arts, and entertainment. Featuring an all-star lineup of top-notch breweries, cideries, distilleries, cocktail whizzes, vineyards, and even amazing local street food. They've also lined up an epic program of live entertainment and awesome activities. This festival knows how to pour on the good times! Make sure you don't miss out on this hop-tastic extravaganza!

Nearby parks: BIG4 Bellarine, BIG4 Ingenia Queenscliff or Tasman - Geelong.

Festivale, Launceston, TAS

When: 2 - 4 February

The best of Tasmania is on display at this hit three-day summer gig. Centrally located City Park makes a wonderful setting and is a hive of activity as local food, wine, beer, cider, and spirits are dished up alongside an entertainment schedule that includes big-name Australian musical acts such as Icehouse, Bachelor Girl, Rogue Traders, Vanessa Amarosi, The Beautiful Girls and Diesel. Beverage masterclasses and celebrity chef appearances add more flavour to this lively event.

Nearby park: BIG4 Launceston.

Apollo Bay Seafood Festival, VIC

When: 10 February

Summer holidays along the Great Ocean Road are irresistible and this event only heightens that appeal. An absolute feast of tasty, fresh seafood is on the menu along with regional wine, beer, and spirits. It’s coupled with myriad activities that include cooking demonstrations, sailing, and a sand-castle comp. Get there!

Nearby park: BIG4 Apollo Bay.

Australian cultural festivals


Parkes Elvis Festival, NSW

When: 10 - 14 January

Having turned 30 in 2023, this is The King of summer events, attracting over 25,000 people annually. The festival is timed to coincide with Elvis Presley’s birthday and is jam-packed with activities in Parkes and surrounds that celebrate a global icon. These including tribute acts, art exhibitions, markets, a street parade, dedicated kids’ activities, and plenty else. It’s an extravaganza you Can't Help Falling in Love with.

Woodford Folk Festival, QLD

When: 27 December – 1 January

The Woodford Folk Festival is hosted every year from 27 December to 1 January at the vast Woodfordia parklands, just one hour's drive north of Brisbane. The festival program includes music, dance, cabaret, circus, comedy, workshops, debates, and street theatre, as well as films, forums, and children's activities, culminating in a breathtaking fire spectacle on New Year's Day. The 2023-24 event features hundreds of acts over multiple venues, with an impressive lineup of performers like Ben Lee, Kate Miller-Heidke and many more.

Nearby parks: BIG4 Caloundra or NRMA Lake Somerset

The Woodford Folk Festival is a highlight of not only the QLD events calendar but of Australia's! Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland.

Sydney Festival, NSW

When: 5 - 28 January

Following Sydney’s famed New Year’s Eve celebrations, the revelry continues throughout January thanks to this humming event. Sydney Festival incorporates a mammoth selection of diverse, enthralling, and action-packed artistic shows that gifts the city a sustained party atmosphere. Free and ticketed events are on a bill that showcases world-famous musicians, performers, comedians, and other artists across various venues.

Nearby parks: NRMA Sydney LakesideIngenia Nepean RiverIngenia Holidays Avina or Ingenia Holidays Sydney Hills.

After the famed fireworks fizzle out, Sydney Festival soon roars to life. Credit: Destination NSW.

CMC Rocks QLD

When: 15 – 17 March

CMC Rocks QLD is Australia's largest international country music festival, featuring 28 artists performing across three stages. The three-day event includes on-site camping and glamping options. Past headliners have included Taylor Swift, Zac Brown Band, and Tim McGraw. Two main stages, Rebel and Stampede, are positioned next to each other, ensuring continuous music throughout the festival. The lineup features 16 international and 12 Australian artists.

Nearby parks: Parks in QLD.

CMC Rocks QLD gives Tamworth a run for it's money. Credit: Kristin Donohue/Tourism and Events Queensland.

Tamworth Country Music Festival, NSW

When: 19 - 28 January

While CMC Rocks QLD, Tamworth is more well-known. Tamworth is at its toe-tapping best when the famous country music festival takes centre stage. The gig is regarded as one of the premier events of its kind on the planet and there’s a distinct buzz throughout the city during this time. The amazing talents of Australian country music artists are celebrated across a flurry of free and ticketed shows. Carnival rides, markets, and dedicated family activities amplify the festival’s immense attraction.

Nearby park: BIG4 Paradise Tamworth or City Lights Holiday Park.

Toe-tapping Tamworth. Credit: Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Perth Festival, WA

When: 9 February - March 3

Australia’s longest-running arts festival – it began in 1953 – creates a weeks-long party atmosphere throughout the WA capital. It features a first-rate lineup of creative events in and around the city with broad appeal across music, film, performance, visual arts, literature, and the like. There’s an emphasis on outdoor events, which pair perfectly with Perth’s usually agreeable weather at this time. Björk is a notable headliner in 2023, booked in for an Australian-exclusive, four-show appearance.

Nearby park: BIG4 Perth Midland or Perth Central Caravan Park.

Perth dazzles at festival time. Credit: Perth Festival.

Mona Foma, TAS

When: 15 February - March 2

First held in 2009, Mona Foma is recognised as one of the state’s leading music and arts festivals. It has a habit of delivering an eclectic bill, which is curated by the event’s artistic director, former Violent Femmes’ bassist, Brian Ritchie. A mix of prominent and emerging artists from all over the globe are set to perform at various boutique spaces across Tassie’s two biggest cities at each end of the state in Launceston and Hobart. US rockers Queens of the Stone Age headline the music program for 2024 as part of a lineup that also includes homegrown talent such as Paul Kelly, Courtney Barnett, Pond and TISM.

Nearby parks: BIG4 Launceston or BIG4 Hobart.

Sydney Lunar Festival, NSW

When: 10 – 25 February

The Sydney Lunar Festival is a vibrant celebration of the Lunar New Year, particularly the Year of the Dragon in 2024. It features street parties, live entertainment, delicious food, lion dances, dragon boats, and captivating art and light installations. The festival spans 16 days, beginning on February 10th, and is one of the largest Lunar New Year events outside of Asia.

Nearby parks: NRMA Sydney Lakeside, Ingenia Avina, Ingenia Nepean River or Ingenia Sydney Hills.

The Sydney Lunar Festival is full of light, colour and celebration. Credit: Destination NSW.

Mona Foma has loads of attraction. Credit: Jarrad Seng.

Adelaide Fringe, SA

When: 16 February - 17 March

One of the state’s premier annual gigs, the famous Adelaide Fringe festival kickstarts the city’s ‘Mad March’ celebrations a little early. It has enjoyed astronomical growth since its inception in 1960 and is now the world's second-largest annual arts festival behind Edinburgh (sorry Melbourne). There’s a mountain of events to enjoy across genres that include comedy, theatre, cabaret, music, visual arts, and plenty else. The event extends to regional locations.

Nearby park: BIG4 West Beach or Marion Holiday Park.

Mardi Gras, NSW

When: 16 February – 3 March

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras attracts hundreds of thousands of attendees from around the world. It is one of the world's largest Pride festivals and features various events like the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade, Bondi Beach Drag Races, and the Fair Day in Victoria Park, which draws 70,000 people. The festival also includes the Mardi Gras Party, Queer Thinking discussion panel, and Mardi Gras Film Festival.

Nearby parks: NRMA Sydney Lakeside, Ingenia Avina, Ingenia Nepean River or Ingenia Sydney Hills.

Adelaide Fringe lights up the SA capital. Credit: Luminarium Daedalum.

Australian sporting festivals & events


Tour Down Under, Adelaide and surrounds, SA

When: 12 - 21 January

First staged in 1999, this event quickly cemented its reputation as Australia’s premier cycling race and forms part of the UCI World Tour. It also shows off the majestic, varied scenery of Adelaide and its surrounding regions, including the Barossa, Fleurieu Peninsula, and the Adelaide Hills. It’s fun, the atmosphere is vibrant, and there are plenty of opportunities to witness and admire the feats of a host of the world’s best cyclists – both men and women.

Nearby parks: BIG4 West Beach, Marion Holiday ParkThe Retreat at West Beach Parks or elsewhere in SA.

Get on your bike and get to Adelaide for the Tour Down Under. Credit: South Australian Tourism Commission.

Australian Open tennis, Melbourne, VIC

When: 14 - 28 January

As one of only four Grand Slams on the international tennis calendar, Australia is fortunate to host this world-class spectacle. Held on the doorstep of Melbourne’s CBD, the Australian Open provides easy access to the best men’s and women’s tennis players across the globe for two thrilling weeks. It’s coupled with lots of great food and drinks and fun activations for all ages to enjoy.

Nearby parks: BIG4 Melbourne or BIG4 Dandenong.

Festival Of Sails, Geelong, VIC

When: 26 - 28 January

Geelong’s beautiful waterfront is abuzz for a time-honoured spectacle that bursts with excitement and colour. The feature is the Melbourne to Geelong Passage Race; it’s billed as the southern hemisphere’s oldest sporting event, with a history dating to 1844. On dry land, there’s entertainment aplenty, including a multitude of musical acts and dedicated kids’ activities.

Nearby parks: BIG4 Bellarine, BIG4 Ingenia Queenscliff or Tasman - Geelong.

Festival of Sails includes the southern hemisphere’s oldest sporting event. Credit: Salty Dingo.

Gold Coast Open, Burleigh Point, QLD

When: 16 -18 February

The best men’s and women’s surfers on the planet are set to converge on this celebrated spot and do battle in the prestigious World Surf League qualifying series event. Burleigh Point provides a wonderful amphitheatre-like setting for spectators to witness the action, which is coupled with musical entertainment, cinema experiences, and more.

Nearby parks: BIG4 Gold Coast or NRMA Treasure Island.

Burleigh makes an epic setting for a world-class surfing event. Credit: Surfing Queensland.

Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, Sydney & Hobart

When: 26 December onwards

A boxing day tradition held ever since the end of World War II, the Sydney to Hobart yacht Race is a spectacle for boat and water lovers alike. Whether you head out on your own boat or watch from the shore as the yachts of all sizes depart Sydney Harbour or anticipate the winning vessel arriving into Hobart just over a day later, it’s a fun time with a group of friends, some drinks and snacks.

Nearby parks: Parks in Sydney or BIG4 Hobart Airport.

Noosa Summer Swim, Noosa Heads, QLD

When: 17 - 18 February

This renowned ocean plunge is a must for keen swimmers, located in one of the most iconic destinations for Queensland holidays. For two days, Noosa Main Beach comes alive and is the setting for various distance races that attract variable competitors from the casual to the professional – including Olympic champions.

Nearby park: Ingenia NoosaIngenia Holidays Noosa North or Noosa North Shore Retreat.

The Noosa Summer Swim is a crowd favourite. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland.

F1 Grand Prix, Melbourne, VIC

When: 21 – 24 March

Attending a Grand Prix is an experience unlike any other. The roar of the cars and crowd, the burning rubber and excitement of the paddock. From a dedicated F1 fans through to casual observers and devout viewers of every season of Formula 1: Drive to Survive, a day out at the only Australian Grand Prix, whether you attend practice, qualifying or the actual race, is sure to be a day to remember.

Nearby parks: BIG4 Melbourne or BIG4 Dandenong.

The roar of the Melbourne F1 Grand Prix at Albert Park is something else!

Busselton Jetty Swim, WA

When: 10 - 11 February

Established in 1996, the open-water swim has grown from a fledgling event attracting dozens of competitors to an annual favourite that draws in thousands. The main event is a 3.6km swim that traces the city’s famed jetty, held on the designated Sunday morning. It’s joined by other smaller swims, a Saturday evening concert, and beach games, ensuring the buzzing atmosphere flows all weekend.

Nearby parks: BIG4 Breeze – Busselton, RAC Busselton or Mandalay Holiday Resort.

The Busselton Jetty Swim has become an annual favourite. Credit: Abby Murray Photography.

Boxing Day Test, Melbourne, VIC

When: 26 – 29 December

One of the most anticipated sporting events on the calendar in this country is undoubtedly the Boxing Day Test. Held annually at the nation’s home of cricket; the Melbourne Cricket Ground, it’s a bucket list item for cricket tragics. This year the Aussies host Pakistan in the second Test of a three-match series.

Nearby parks: BIG4 Melbourne or BIG4 Dandenong.

All dates are correct at time of publishing. Isn’t it time you had a festive break? Book your next BIG4 escape now.

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