If you want to meet the likes of Heston Blumenthal and Maggie Beer, or get up close to your favourite comedian or band, then put these top Aussie festivals in your calendar.
PERTH INTERNATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL – WA
Keep free: February 7 to March 1
Go to: Various venues in Perth
The low-down: A three-week annual festival showcasing theatre, music, film, visual arts, street arts and literature from around the world.
It includes the Perth Writers Festival (Feb 20-23) and performances including acrobatics, dance and drama (2014.perthfestival.com.au).
ADELAIDE FRINGE FESTIVAL – SA
Keep free: February 14 to March 16
Go to: Various venues around Adelaide
The low-down: Open to anyone from Australia and abroad, the annual arts festival features everything from cabaret, circus and puppetry to comedy, dance, film, music and design.
More than 900 events are held in places such as parks, warehouses, theatres, cafes, and more (adelaidefringe.com.au).
MELBOURNE FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL – VIC
Keep free: February 28 to March 16
Go to: Various venues throughout Melbourne
The low-down: In 2014, top chefs and winemakers from around the world will take part in more than 200 festival events centred on the theme of water.
A highlight of the festival will be the Water MasterClass, where guests will be transported to the Bellarine Peninsula for a cooking demonstrations from chefs such as Peter Gilmore from Quay (melbournefoodandwine.com.au).
MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL COMEDY FESTIVAL – VIC
Keep free: March 26 to April 20
Go to: Melbourne Town Hall
The low-down: One of the largest comedy festivals in the world, this yearly event hosts Australian and international comedians. The full 2014 line-up will be announced in February.
It features plenty of stand-up comedy, theatre and street performance, as well as film, television, radio, visual arts and cabaret (comedyfestival.com.au).
VIVID SYDNEY – NSW
Keep free: May 24 to June 10
Go to: Sydney city
The low-down: Photographers love this one, because Vivid Sydney is when some of the city’s major attractions are lit up with colourful, changing displays.
The images splayed across the Opera House are the main drawcard, but there are plenty of other buildings used as canvases for the light shows. Make a night of it by walking through the city centre to each featured spot. It’s free, too (vividsydney.com).
DARWIN FESTIVAL – NT
Keep free: August 7-24
Go to: Various venues in Darwin
The low-down: Borne out of the destruction caused by Cyclone Tracy in 1974, the Darwin Festival was a way of celebrating the city’s revival.
It features outdoor concerts, theatre, comedy, film, workshops and more by local and touring performers.
It’s an annual festival and is a mix of free and paid events (darwinfestival.org.au).
MARGARET RIVER GOURMET ESCAPE – WA
Keep free: November 21-23
Go to: Various venues in Margaret River
The low-down: Australian and international food and wine superstars descend on Margaret River every year for this world-class gastronomic festival.
Take a long weekend to mix with other foodies and to eat and drink yourself silly.
The Gourmet Village is where to go for cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, and intimate Q&As, while the beach barbecue brunches, lunches and dinners are more chilled-out affairs (gourmetescape.com.au).
TROPFEST AUSTRALIA – NSW
Keep free: December 7
Go to: Centennial Park in Sydney
The low-down: It’s an annual short film competition that’s open to everyone and culminates in what’s claimed to be the largest short film festival in the world.
The finalists’ films are screened in Sydney, but people can tune in from outdoor locations in major cities via live satellite links.
It’s free to attend and includes live music, bars and an awards ceremony (tropfest.com/au).
WOODFORD FOLK FESTIVAL – QLD
Keep free: December 27 to January 1
Go to: Woodford, in the Sunshine Coast hinterland
The low-down: The Woodford Folk Festival has reached mythical proportions and status, and draws more than just Eumundi hippies. The annual event attracts more than 2000 performers from around the world.
Expect concerts, dancing, street theatre, comedy, art workshops, writers’ panels, a film festival, circus acts and a festival for children. You’ll even come across folk medicine and be able to debate major environmental issues as part of a special program (www.woodfordfolkfestival.com).
FALLS FESTIVAL – TAS
Keep free: December 29 to January 1
Go to: Marion Bay on Tasmania’s east coast
The low-down: A relaxed music and arts festival held in the stunning location of Marion Bay (with sister festivals at Lorne and Byron Bay).
The Village is where you can listen to acoustic guitar artists, stand-up comedy and cabaret, or have a go at line dancing, take part in a circus workshop or fix up your ‘do at a hair salon station.
This year’s big music act is MGMT (marionbay.fallsfestival.com.au).