The number of festivals in and around Sydney has exploded in the last decade, making us truly spoilt for choice. The wonderful thing about that, of course, is that a huge range of tastes are catered for – which we definitely need in a city of over 4 million people! No need for anyone to restrict themselves though, right? Go on, dip your toes in! Here’s ten top picks to get you started.
1. Sydney Festival
Without doubt an event that has become a favourite of many. A celebration of all things art and culture, the Sydney Festival encompasses just about everything you can think of from Opera, Circus and
Cabaret, to live music and DJ sets in bars, theatre, visual art, film and outdoor events for the whole family. Some of the live music highlights this year include Chaka Khan, Catpower and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra with Belle Shakespeare vocalists.
Festival dates & location: Thursday 9 – Sunday 26 January, all over Sydney (check website for details) Opening party : Friday 10 January, Parramatta CBD
2. Solition drop
A somewhat underground style that is starting to gather a lot more attention of late, Psytrance takes centre stage for three days at this environmentally sustainable, lifestyle festival. Psy-music festivals often have workshops and stalls aimed at regenerating your energies such as meditation and yoga – in addition to providing a cracking dance
Dysphemic & Miss Eliza
event. Solition Drop is this and more – there’s a kooky, genre-diverse lineup of talent including Dysphemic & Miss Eliza, Ryanosaurus, Terrafractyl, Hypnagog and Loose Cannon to name just a few.
Festival dates & location: Friday 10 – Sunday 11 January, secret location – revealed after ticket purchase
3. Big Day Out
It feels like it’s been around forever, and BDO has earned a massive following over the years. Starting from humble alternative music roots, it’s grown in popularity and diversity of styles, now
well known for drawing the cream of the musical crop from all over the globe. No matter how big their international headliners are though, there’s always a generous serving of local, emerging talent to balance it off and keep it real! This year punters will be treated to the likes of Pearl Jam, Snoop Dogg, The Hives, Arcade Fire, Rufus, DZ Deathrays, Tame Impala and lots more.
Festival dates & location: Sunday 26 January, Sydney Showgrounds
4. Laneway Festival
Otherwise known as the St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, this music event had small beginnings in a a little alleyway of Melbourne years ago. With a reputation for being a day of excellent music and fun, it’s gone national
and Sydney now gets their own Laneway treats each year. Get along this time to check out the likes of Adalita, Cloud Control, The Jezebels, XXYYXX, Dick Diver and War Paint.
Festival dates & location: Sunday 2 February, SCA Rozelle
5. Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras
Another veteran festival on the list, these guys know how to put on a party or ten. The Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras welcomes everyone –
even though it’s to celebrate gender and sexual diversity, it’s done in a spirit of inclusiveness. And don’t be thinking it’s just the parade down Oxford Street either – though this is where it all started, today it’s grown into a cultural extravaganza spanning music, theatre, community events and parties, plus much more. You might be surprised what you discover at the Mardi Gras! Some highlights include Pam Ann, Trevor Ashley, Women Say Something, Queens of the Outback musical, Slide Cabaret and the day of fun to kick it all off, Fair Day.
Festival dates & location: Friday 7 February – Saturday 8 March, all over Sydney CBD
Currently one of the premier alternative rock/punk/harcore festivals, Soundwave has built up a loyal following in its lifespan. Get out your boots and do some neck exercises, ‘cos you’ll probably spend a
good portion of the day moshing in a sweaty, jostling pile of punters. Check out the stellar lineup including Green Day, Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains, Pennywise, Jimmy Eat World, Rob Zombie, Korn and Placebo.
Festival dates & location: Sunday 23 February, Sydney Olympic Park
7. Future Music
If you’re into electro beats and dance, head to Future Music. With a huge array of artists, it doesn’t all have to get your heart rate totally peaking – there’s a bunch of stages so you can
choose more soothing styles ands slower BPMs. There’s artists delivering everything from R’n’B and Hip Hop infused tunes to the good old staple trance, in various sub-genres. Some of the line up this year includes Maya Jane Cole, Cut Copy, Deadmau5 and ATB.
Festival dates & location: Saturday 8 March, Randwick Racecourse
These guys certainly are making life good for young punters. Proud to be “the world’s biggest under 18 festival”, Goodlife put on a day of monster dance and electronic tunes. There’s also a bunch
of other stuff going on like carnival rides, water slides and dodge ball competitions. The lineup boasts some huge names this year- just a few include Knife Party, Will Sparks, Hardwell, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and Deadmau5.
Festival dates & location: : Sunday 9 March, Randwick Racecourse
9. Blue Mountains music festival
Possibly one not everyone in Sydney knows about, we’ve had our very own blues and roots festival right here for the last 19 years! Rather than erecting temporary stages on one
site, the Blue Mountains music festival houses its acts in various venues of Katoomba which are all a stone’s throw from each other. The result is an intimate feel to each gig – but you get to do it over and over again instead of just once in a night! Kids with guardians are welcome at all venues too. They’ve secured some impressive names this year, including Xavier Rudd, Ash Grunwald, Grace Barbe and Band, Jeff Lang and The Tiger & Me.
Festival dates & location: Friday 14 – Sunday 16 March, Katoomba
10. Mountain Sounds Festival, Central Coast
Hosting their inaugural event this year, Mountain Sounds wants to be your music destination for a
Ball Park Music
Sydney getaway. Just a couple hours drive from our teeming city, the picturesque Mount Penang promises to be a sweet, chilled location to kick back with a beer and listen to your tunes of choice. For a newbie festival, they’ve got an awesome lineup : check out Ball Park Music, Midnight Juggernauts, Jinja Safari, Emma Louise and Sticky Fingers among lots more.
Festival dates & location: Saturday 15th March at Mt Penang Gardens, Kariong