Weird and wonderful festivals around Australia

Looking for a holiday that just hits a bit different? Why not try one of the many unique festivals hosted around Australia.

Dark Mofo, Hobart, Tasmania
16-22 June 2021

Dark Mofo is not your ordinary festival, it’s weird, it’s confronting, it’s controversial and it sure is popular.

The midwinter celebration brings a huge tourist boom for the Apple Isle, with more than 25,000 interstate visitors arriving in 2019.

Here you’ll find offbeat theatre productions alongside retrospectives of classic films, light shows and late-night openings of the renowned local Museum of Old and New Art (Mona).

The contemporary art scene doesn’t hold back, directors and performers are not afraid to shock to make their point, so come with an open mind.

Big Red Bash, Simpson Desert, Queensland
6-8 July 2021

The world’s most remote music festival is set to return this year with its biggest ever line-up of iconic Aussie rock acts.

Alongside the towering Big Red sand dune, 35km from Birdsville, an ancient, dried-up lakebed forms a natural amphitheatre, the perfect place for an outback Aussie music festival.

Crowd favourites Bjorn Again – who took to the stage on camel back in 2019 – will return by popular demand for the sixth edition of the all-ages festival.

For Aussie music lovers and intrepid travellers alike, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Read more: Remembering Sunbury Rock Festival

Shinju Matsuri, Broome, Western Australia
22 August to 5 September 2021

A celebration of Broome’s multicultural pearling heritage, this festival includes a colourful, dragon-led parade and glowing lanterns floating into the sunset.

Featuring a kaleidoscope of events, Shinju Matsuri encapsulates everything that is Broome and the surrounding area of the Kimberly region and showcases the abundance of talent the locals hold.

This year it’s timed to coincide with the August Staircase to the Moon – the breathtaking natural phenomenon that occurs when a full moon rises over Broome’s Roebuck Bay – which can be spotted from 23-25 August.

The Birdsville Races, Birdsville, Queensland
3-4 September 2021

Even the trip to get to the Birdsville Races is a journey in itself. Located 1590km from Brisbane, without a sealed road or regularly scheduled flight in sight, you’re unlikely to get there in one day.

Read more: How to secure free tickets to the Birdsville races

Thousands of people make the epic multi-day drive. For most, it involves four-wheel driving, camping gear and at least a week to travel.

And once you arrive, you’ll find much more on offer than just the centrepiece race day event. From live entertainment to fun runs to fashion and beyond, there’s plenty for everyone.

Broken Heel Festival, Broken Hill, New South Wales
9-13 September 2021

Centring around Broken Hill’s Palace Hotel, the festival offers non-stop entertainment, comedy, cabaret, live music and social activities paying homage to the iconic cult movie and stage musical, Priscilla Queen Of The Desert.

It is the ultimate Australian road trip movie, so it’s no wonder the festival inspires thousands to pack their sequins and feather boas, and hop in the car each year.

This five-day bash celebrates all things desert, disco and diva.

Parkes Elvis Festival, Parkes, New South Wales
5-7 January 2022

Elvis fans can’t miss the annual five-day tribute to the King. This iconic festival is filled with Elvis impersonators, film showings, cabaret and street parades, all timed to coincide with Elvis Presley’s birthday in January.

Read more: Iconic fashion items from music

Parrtjima, Alice Springs, Northern Territory
8-17 April 2022

Parrtjima is Australia’s biggest light installation put on by the world’s oldest living culture. It’s a spectacular light festival that has to be seen to be believed, with the 300-million-year-old MacDonnell Ranges acting as a natural canvas.

Also on offer during the 10-day festival are interactive workshops, talks, films and live music.

Are you looking for something a bit different to a regular weekend away? Do any of these festivals take your fancy?

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Ellie Baxter
Ellie Baxter
Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.
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