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The Best Music Festivals in Australia: A Comprehensive Guide

Updated: Jun 21

Music festivals in Australia are more than just concerts; they're transformative experiences. Picture this: a sunlit field, the horizon blending into a kaleidoscope of lights and sounds, with crowds swaying to the beats of top-tier artists. These aren't mere events but vibrant gatherings where memories are made and the essence of Australian culture comes alive.


From the iconic Bluesfest Byron Bay to the intimate vibes of Queenscliff, these festivals offer a tapestry of experiences. They’re not just about the music; they’re about connection, community, and the sheer joy of celebration. In a world recovering from the constraints of the past few years, the resurgence of live music festivals is a triumphant return to shared human experiences, where we come together to celebrate life through music.


Bluesfest at Dusk - Music Festivals in Australia

In this guide, we’ll explore the best music festivals in Australia today and pay homage to the legendary festivals of the past. Even though festivals like Splendour in the Grass, Falls Festival, and Groovin the Moo no longer grace our calendars, their legacies have shaped the vibrant festival culture we cherish. They remind us of the power of music to bring people together, create lasting memories, and celebrate the diverse tapestry of Australian life.


So, whether you’re a festival veteran or a curious newcomer, join us as we delve into the heart of Australia’s music festival scene. Here, the spirit of celebration never fades, and the music plays on.


Current Top Music Festivals in Australia


Bluesfest Byron Bay

We at Bluesfest may be a bit biased, but we proudly hold the title of Australia's most awarded music festival for a reason (Including being awarded Festival of the Year 2024). Established in 1990 by Peter Noble, Bluesfest Byron Bay shines as a prominent musical celebration in Australia, evolving from a niche blues gathering into a massive event that draws music enthusiasts worldwide.


Set in the serene Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm (Byron Events Farm), just outside Byron Bay, Bluesfest offers a diverse lineup that spans blues, roots, rock, and more. We're more than just a music festival; it’s a family-friendly event that integrates workshops, cultural celebrations, and a vibrant market atmosphere.



Over the years, we have hosted legendary acts such as Bob Dylan, John Mayer, and Ben Harper, making it a must-visit for those seeking both stellar performances and a rich festival experience. Check out our past festival lineups here.

Feature

Details

Founded

1990

Location

Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm, Byron Bay, NSW

Dates

Easter weekend

Notable Performers

Bob Dylan, John Mayer, Ben Harper

Unique Aspects

Family-friendly, workshops, indigenous culture celebrations

Laneway Festival

Starting in Melbourne’s laneways in 2004, Laneway Festival has evolved into a multi-city tour that captures the indie and emerging music scene's essence.


Held in urban settings across Australia, including Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Fremantle, Laneway is known for its eclectic lineups featuring artists like Florence and the Machine, Haim, and Mac DeMarco.



Its charm lies in its ability to transform city streets and parks into intimate concert spaces where fans can discover the next big thing in music while enjoying the vibrant urban backdrop.

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Details

Founded

2004

Location

Multi-city (Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, Fremantle)

Dates

Australian summer (January-February)

Notable Performers

Florence and the Machine, Haim, Mac DeMarco

Unique Aspects

Urban setting, focus on emerging talent

Woodford Folk Festival

Woodford Folk Festival, established in 1987, is more than just a music festival; it’s a vibrant cultural event. Held annually in Woodfordia, Queensland, from December 27th to January 1st, Woodford blends music with a wide array of cultural performances, workshops, and environmental initiatives.




Originally known as the Maleny Folk Festival, it has grown into one of Australia’s largest folk festivals, emphasizing sustainability and community engagement. It’s a unique celebration where music, art, and environmental consciousness converge to create a holistic festival experience.

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Details

Founded

1987

Location

Woodfordia, Queensland

Dates

December 27th - January 1st

Notable Performers

Various folk and cultural artists

Unique Aspects

Cultural performances, workshops, sustainability focus

Queenscliff Music Festival

Since 1997, the Queenscliff Music Festival has brought an eclectic mix of music to the charming coastal town of Queenscliff, Victoria. Set against the stunning backdrop of the Bellarine Peninsula, the festival offers a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere with performances from artists across various genres.




Notable past performers include Missy Higgins, The Cat Empire, and John Butler Trio. The festival’s seaside location and laid-back vibe make it a perfect retreat for music lovers looking to enjoy a diverse lineup in a picturesque setting.

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Details

Founded

1997

Location

Queenscliff, Victoria

Dates

November

Notable Performers

Missy Higgins, The Cat Empire, John Butler Trio

Unique Aspects

Coastal setting, family-friendly, diverse music genres

CMC Rocks

CMC Rocks has been Australia’s leading country music festival since its inception in 2008. Held in Willowbank, Queensland, this festival attracts country music fans from around the world. With headliners like Luke Combs, Keith Urban, and Kacey Musgraves, CMC Rocks offers a mix of traditional and modern country sounds.




Its lively, community-oriented atmosphere, coupled with performances from some of the biggest names in country music, makes it a standout event for country enthusiasts.

Feature

Details

Founded

2008

Location

Willowbank, Queensland

Dates

March

Notable Performers

Luke Combs, Keith Urban, Kacey Musgraves

Unique Aspects

Focus on country music, community atmosphere

Good Things Festival

Despite being a relatively new addition to the Australian festival scene, Good Things Festival has made a significant impact since its debut in 2018.



Focused on punk, rock, and alternative genres, the festival takes place in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane in December. It features high-energy performances from bands like The Offspring, A Day to Remember, and Parkway Drive.


Good Things Festival is known for its dynamic lineup and enthusiastic crowds, delivering an adrenaline-pumping experience for rock fans.

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Details

Founded

2018

Location

Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane

Dates

December

Notable Performers

The Offspring, A Day to Remember, Parkway Drive

Unique Aspects

Focus on punk, rock, and alternative music, high-energy atmosphere

These festivals represent the pinnacle of Australia’s current music scene, each offering a unique experience that draws music lovers from all corners of the country and beyond. Whether you’re seeking the bluesy charm of Bluesfest, the artistic flair of Beyond the Valley, or the folk traditions of Woodford, there’s a festival to match every musical taste and style.


Emerging Festivals

Wildlands

Since its debut in 2019, Wildlands has quickly gained a reputation as one of Australia’s most exciting new music festivals. This event focuses on electronic and hip-hop music, bringing a dynamic blend of high-energy performances and cutting-edge production to Brisbane and Perth. Held in late December, Wildlands offers a vibrant festival experience that caters to fans of electronic beats and rap rhythms. The festival's immersive atmosphere, featuring stunning visuals and top-tier sound systems, ensures a memorable end-of-year celebration.

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Details

Founded

2019

Location

Brisbane, Perth

Dates

Late December

Notable Performers

Tyler, The Creator, RÜFÜS DU SOL, Skepta

Unique Aspects

Focus on electronic and hip-hop music, cutting-edge production

Ability Fest

Ability Fest, launched in 2018 by Paralympian Dylan Alcott, stands out for its focus on inclusivity and accessibility. Held in Melbourne, this festival aims to create an inclusive environment where everyone can enjoy live music without barriers. Ability Fest features a diverse lineup of performers from various genres, making it a celebration of both music and inclusivity. The festival’s unique setups, including accessible viewing platforms and pathways, ensure that all attendees, regardless of their abilities, can fully participate in the festival experience.

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Details

Founded

2018

Location

Melbourne

Dates

Varies

Notable Performers

Peking Duk, Alex the Astronaut, The Presets

Unique Aspects

Focus on inclusivity and accessibility, diverse music genres

Notable Australian Music Festivals of the Past

Splendour in the Grass

For nearly two decades, Splendour in the Grass was a cornerstone of the Australian festival circuit. Launched in 2001 in Byron Bay, it quickly became known for its eclectic lineup, bohemian atmosphere, and stunning coastal setting. Splendour was more than just a festival; it was a cultural phenomenon that attracted music lovers, artists, and free spirits alike. Hosting acts like Coldplay, Kanye West, and Florence and the Machine, it became a rite of passage for many and left a lasting legacy despite its closure. Splendour’s spirit lives on in the hearts of its fans and the influence it had on the festival culture in Australia.

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Details

Founded

2001

Location

Byron Bay, NSW

Notable Performers

Coldplay, Kanye West, Florence and the Machine

Unique Aspects

Eclectic lineup, bohemian atmosphere, coastal setting

Reasons for Closure

Economic challenges, logistical issues

Falls Festival

Started in 1993 in the coastal town of Lorne, Victoria, Falls Festival quickly became synonymous with New Year's Eve celebrations. Known for its multi-day lineup and scenic locations, Falls attracted a diverse array of artists, from local indie bands to international superstars. Held in various locations including Lorne, Marion Bay, and Byron Bay, it became a staple for end-of-year festivities. Despite its eventual closure, Falls Festival remains a cherished memory for those who rang in the new year with its vibrant performances and stunning backdrops.

Feature

Details

Founded

1993

Locations

Lorne, VIC; Marion Bay, TAS; Byron Bay, NSW

Notable Performers

Arctic Monkeys, Fleet Foxes, Flume

Unique Aspects

Multi-day lineup, scenic locations, New Year’s Eve focus

Reasons for Closure

Economic and logistical challenges

Big Day Out

Big Day Out was a defining festival of the 1990s and 2000s, shaping the Australian music scene with its eclectic mix of alternative rock, heavy metal, and emerging genres. Founded in 1992, it toured multiple cities across Australia and New Zealand, featuring iconic performances by acts like Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Rage Against the Machine. Known for its high-energy atmosphere and diverse lineups, Big Day Out was more than just a festival; it was a cultural event that influenced generations of music fans. Its closure marked the end of an era, but its legacy continues to resonate in the Australian music landscape.

Feature

Details

Founded

1992

Locations

Multi-city (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth)

Notable Performers

Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against the Machine

Unique Aspects

Alternative rock focus, multi-city tour, high-energy atmosphere

Reasons for Closure

Decline due to financial issues and changing music trends

Homebake

Homebake, launched in 1996, was a festival dedicated to showcasing Australian and New Zealand talent. Held annually in Sydney’s Domain, it celebrated local music, film, and arts, providing a platform for emerging artists and established acts alike. Bands like Powderfinger, Silverchair, and Spiderbait were regulars, drawing large crowds eager to support homegrown talent. Despite its popularity, Homebake eventually closed due to increased competition and financial challenges, but it remains fondly remembered for its contribution to the local music scene.

Feature

Details

Founded

1996

Location

Sydney, NSW

Notable Performers

Powderfinger, Silverchair, Spiderbait

Unique Aspects

Focus on Australian and New Zealand artists, celebration of local talent

Reasons for Closure

Increased competition, financial issues

Groovin the Moo

Groovin the Moo was Australia’s only regional touring festival, bringing music to rural and regional areas from 2005 until its final run in 2021. Spanning various locations including Maitland, Bendigo, and Townsville, Groovin the Moo offered a mix of international and local artists, providing a platform for regional audiences to experience live music without the need to travel to major cities. The festival was known for its inclusive and community-oriented vibe, making it a beloved event for fans across Australia. Its closure marked the end of a unique era in regional music festivals.

Feature

Details

Founded

2005

Locations

Regional areas (Maitland, Bendigo, Townsville, etc.)

Notable Performers

Billie Eilish, Hilltop Hoods, The Wombats

Unique Aspects

Focus on regional areas, mix of international and local acts, community vibe

Reasons for Closure

Economic and logistical challenges

Future Music Festival

Future Music Festival, active from 2006 to 2015, was a prominent player in Australia’s electronic and dance music scene. Featuring some of the biggest names in EDM, including The Prodigy, Avicii, and Deadmau5, Future Music Festival brought high-energy performances to cities across Australia. Known for its impressive stage productions and electric atmosphere, it was a major event for dance music enthusiasts. Despite its popularity, the festival faced financial difficulties and changing audience preferences, leading to its eventual closure.

Feature

Details

Founded

2006

Locations

Multi-city (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth)

Notable Performers

The Prodigy, Avicii, Deadmau5

Unique Aspects

Focus on electronic and dance music, high-energy performances, impressive stage productions

Reasons for Closure

Financial challenges, changing music trends

These notable festivals of the past have left an indelible mark on Australia's festival landscape. From the eclectic charm of Splendour in the Grass to the regional outreach of Groovin the Moo, they each contributed uniquely to the culture of live music in Australia. While they may no longer be active, their legacies continue to inspire and shape the festivals we enjoy today.


Tips for Attending Australian Music Festivals

Preparation

Attending a music festival is a thrilling experience, but a bit of preparation can make it even more enjoyable. Start by securing your tickets early; festivals often sell out quickly, and purchasing through official channels helps avoid scams. Plan your travel and accommodation well in advance, especially for festivals in remote or popular tourist areas. Look into local transport options and consider staying close to the festival site to maximize convenience.


When packing, think about the essentials: stay hydrated with a reusable water bottle, protect yourself with sunscreen and a hat, and bring weather-appropriate clothing. Comfortable shoes are a must, as you’ll likely be on your feet all day. And don’t forget to pack a portable phone charger to keep your devices powered for capturing memories and staying in touch.

Preparation Tips

Details

Tickets

Buy early from official sources

Travel & Accommodation

Plan in advance, consider proximity to the venue

Essentials to Pack

Reusable water bottle, sunscreen, hat, weather-appropriate clothing, comfortable shoes, portable phone charger

On-Site Experience

Navigating the festival grounds effectively can significantly enhance your experience. Familiarize yourself with the festival layout, including the location of stages, food vendors, restrooms, and first aid stations. Most festivals provide maps and schedules, which can help you plan your day and ensure you don’t miss your favorite acts.


Food and drink options are usually diverse at festivals, so take the opportunity to explore local vendors and try something new. Keeping hydrated and nourished will help you maintain energy throughout the day. Additionally, be aware of health and safety tips: stay in well-ventilated areas, know where to find help if needed, and follow any on-site guidelines to ensure a safe experience for everyone.

On-Site Tips

Details

Festival Layout

Familiarize with maps and schedules

Food & Drink

Explore diverse options, stay hydrated and nourished

Health & Safety

Stay in ventilated areas, know first aid locations, follow on-site guidelines

Festival Etiquette

Respect for fellow attendees and the environment is crucial to a positive festival experience. Keep personal space in mind, especially in crowded areas, and be considerate when moving through the crowd. Avoid blocking views and be mindful of others' enjoyment.


Environmental responsibility is also key. Many festivals are adopting eco-friendly practices, and attendees can contribute by minimizing waste, using recycling bins, and supporting sustainable initiatives. Bring reusable items where possible and follow any guidelines provided by the festival for waste disposal.


Lastly, embrace the community spirit of festivals. Engage with fellow festival-goers, support artists by visiting merchandise stands, and be open to new experiences and music. A positive attitude and respect for others will enhance your enjoyment and that of those around you.

Etiquette Tips

Details

Respecting Others

Maintain personal space, be considerate in crowds

Environmental Responsibility

Minimize waste, use recycling bins, support sustainable practices

Community Spirit

Engage with others, support artists, embrace new experiences

Summing it all up

Australia’s music festivals offer a rich tapestry of experiences, from our own iconic Bluesfest Byron Bay to emerging gems like Wildlands. These festivals celebrate diversity, community, and the transformative power of music, providing unique spaces where memories are created, and the spirit of celebration thrives. While some legendary festivals have become part of history, their legacies continue to shape the vibrant festival culture we enjoy today.


By preparing well, navigating festival grounds effectively, and respecting both fellow attendees and the environment, you can make the most of your festival experience. Whether you’re a seasoned festival-goer or attending your first event, Australia’s music festivals promise unforgettable moments and a chance to be part of something truly special.

So, grab your tickets, pack your essentials, and get ready to dive into the heart of Australia’s festival wonderland, where the music plays on and the celebration never ends.

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