Inspire

11 Australian Festivals Where The Location Is The Headliner

Sounds and surrounds.

Summer festival season is here and damn, what a relief, because the wait has felt like a lifetime. There’s nothing better than letting your hair down with a side of sunshine, music and mates, and high season starts now.

A handful of creative geniuses keep finding ways to combine Australia’s natural beauty with our unwavering love for boutique festivals. For this, we are eternally grateful. Here are 11 festivals that are set in spots of such natural glory that they can also count the location as a headliner.

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Wave Rock Weekender

Where: Wave Rock, WA
When: Late September

Wave Rock is a true wonder of the Outback. The strange granite wave-like formation is about 110 metres long and over 2.5 billion years old. It’s an incredible place that tourists flock to see, but in September, it becomes the backdrop for a three-day camping festival. Wave Rock Weekender encourages punters to take inspiration from its location and immerse themselves in photography, painting, bird watching and astronomy. It also offers film screenings, morning yoga and “rock” aerobics. This year, the beautifully curated line-up featured some of our best acts like Ngaiire, Jess Ribeiro, Leah Senior and Jim Lawrie.

Image: Wave Rock Weekender/Facebook

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Paradise

Where: Lake Mountain Alpine Resort, VIC
When: Late November

Now in its forth year, Paradise festival is everything the name suggests. Not far from Marysville, the festival is perched high up at the Lake Mountain Alpine Resort – a ski field in the winter months and a delightfully spectral setting for some serious summer fun during Paradise. Paradise is one for the nature-lovers, where you’ll be treated to a cosy forest campsite and views for days. Be prepared for a very scenic road trip to get there, as well as some spectacular sunsets. It’s heavenly. Line-up wise, expect an experimental mix of legendary local acts.

Photo: Paradise/Facebook

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Let Them Eat Cake

Where: Werribee Mansion, VIC
When: New Year’s Day

Werribee Mansion is a grand 60-room homestead built in the 1870s on 10-hectares of parkland. The stately building is now a fancy hotel and day spa but each New Year’s Day its immaculately manicured lawns are the home for Let Them Eat Cake. Let’s call it an environmentally-conscience- -arty-electro-picnic. This year you can expect to spend your day with Cut Chemist, Dusky, Alex Niggermann, Edit and Heidi.

Photo: Duncographic/Let Them Eat Cake Facebook

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Harbourlife

Where: Mrs Macquarie’s Point, Sydney
When: Mid-November

Picture this: in the distance is the iconic Sydney skyline. In the middle ground, the skyline is reflected in a glistering body of water that is dotted with boats. Then, on the stage in front of you are the world’s best house acts. This is Harbourlife. This festival’s home is on the Fleet Steps at Mrs Macquarie’s Point, Sydney, and it’s a venue like no other. It’s a one-day festival in November and not surprisingly, it sells out very quickly.

Photo: Uri Auerbach/Harbourlife Facebook

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Wide Open Space

Where: Ross River Resort (near Alice Springs), NT
When: Late April

This community-vibe festival is held among the ancient East MacDonnell Ranges, deep in the Central Australian desert. The site is a bush resort about 80-kilometres from Alice Springs. Now in its eighth year, Wide Open Space continues to put a focus on local talent across music, arts and dance. This year, Saskwatch, Om Unit and Tek Tek Ensemble all took the stage. Get excited to share your Wide Open Space experience with an abundance of animals and birdlife. It runs for three days in April.

Photo: Wide Open Spaces Festival/Facebook

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A Festival Called PANAMA

Where: Lone Star Valley, TAS
When: Mid-March

Lone Star Valley is tucked away in Tasmania’s north-east. It’s a magical little clearing among a dense native forest. Anyone who has visited will know that it’s hard to put into words why this place is so magical, but trust us, it is. A Festival Called PANAMA is a newbie to the boutique scene and it’s been turning heads big time (check out our wrap up of this year’s event). You can a row little boat across a lake filled with water lilies or sip on a drink at a small candle-lit bar. The showers are wood-fired and the cider is brewed on-site. PANAMA showcases Tasmania in all its glory.

Photo: A Festival Valled PANAMA, Facebook

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Castaway

Where: Rottnest Island, WA
When: Mid-December and mid_February

Less like a festival and more like a party, Castaway takes place on what is usually a peaceful beach on a tiny island near Perth. Accessibly only by boat, its location is the epitome of the Australian summer. Past events have seen rowdy line-ups like Peking Duk, What So Not, Sticky Fingers and SAFIA. But the best news it happens not once, but twice a year. The next Castaway is on December 11 with Gang Of Youths, Jarryd James and Bag Raiders.

Photo: Castaway/Facebook

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The Secret Garden Festival

Where: Camden, NSW
When: Late February

Welcome to the “48 Hour Forest Disco”. On a farm near Camden in New South Wales, Secret Garden is known for having very creative punters and organisers. Scattered across paddocks and bushland are hidden dance floors and pop-up performances. It’ll be one of the most community-minded and costume-friendly festivals you’ll ever attend. It’s back for it’s ninth year in February 2017, but (please don’t shoot the messenger) tickets are already long gone.

Image: Secret Garden

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WOMADelaide

Where: Botanic Park, Adelaide, SA
When: Mid-March

Australia’s premiere world music festival has been showing off since 1992. The setting since year-one has been Botanic Park in the heart of Adelaide between the Adelaide Zoo and the Adelaide Botanical Gardens. At the main stage, towering trees offer shelter from the often harsh March sun and grassy hills create a natural amphitheatre. Some of the biggest names in the world have played at the four-day event.

Image: Steve Trutwin/WOMADelaide Facebook 

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Fairgrounds

Where: Berry, NSW
When: Early December

Targeting a slightly more mature festival-goer, the refined festival Fairgrounds is a thing of beauty. It’s set in the historic town of Berry in December, a stone’s throw away from Seven Mile Beach. Along with gourmet food, artisan drinks, field games, kids’ entertainment and record shopping (oh, and the bands of course: The Drones, Rodriguez, Jagwar Ma, Angel Olsen, Sarah Blasko), the headline attraction has to be the festival’s glistening blue swimming pool. Grab your togs and your inflatables and jump in.

Photo: Fairgrounds/Facebook

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Bleach* Festival

Where: The Gold Coast, QLD
When: Late March to mid-April

Dubbed as the region’s biggest cultural festival, Bleach* Festival swallows the Gold Coast for three whole weeks. It’s held across interesting indoor and outdoor spaces, but for the most impressive views, be sure to attend events at Bleach* At Burleigh, right on the beach with the Surfers Paradise skyline on the horizon. The program includes music, dance, art, opera, circus and performance, and this year the Artist In Residence was none other than Mr. Ben Lee.

Photo: Bleach*/Facebook 

(Lead image: Wave Rock Weekender/Facebook)

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