Top 8 music festivals in Australia

Top 8 music festivals in Australia

Last Updated: 28 Jun 2024
Olivia Preston

The music festival scene in Australia is on the rise, with even small boutique festivals attracting record numbers and a rapidly expanding global audience willing to travel Down Under for the big events. Since COVID, Australia’s music scene has made a full recovery, attracting an estimated two million festival goers, both local and international, each year.

For local music lovers, there is an increasingly diverse range of festivals to choose from, ranging from one-day events in capital city centres to hardcore five-day camping events in regional Australia. The music range is equally diverse, with festivals such as Listen Out landing big names like Doja Cat and 21 Savage, while Bluesfest hosts golden oldies like Tom Jones and Strawberry Fields scouts out upcoming local talent.

We spent a couple of weeks researching Australia’s most popular and exciting festivals to add to your bucket list for the 2024/2025 season.

Laneway Festival

February, 1 day

Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, and Brisbane

Started in 2004 in a dingy dive bar called Jerome’s in Caledonian laneway in Melbourne, Laneway has blossomed into a massive one-day festival spread across five cities.

It’s come a long way from when owner Jerome Borazio and co-founder and friend Danny Rogers started hosting a weekly summer series of musical acts at Jerome’s and other bars in the laneway. This continued to draw in the crowds, and before they knew it, Laneway was born. It is now regarded as more of a boutique-type festival, what a turnaround!

After playing mostly indie music, Laneway has branched out into alternative electro, hip-hop, R&B and pop, and is renowned for booking emerging talent such as The Avalanches and Billie Eilish when she was just 15, as well as securing established names like Lily Allen, Stormzy and Steve Lacy.

Predominantly attracting a younger crowd, you can expect to see a mix of dress, from grungy to gothic, stripes to sequins- and everything in-between. With bucket hats and (water) bottles of vodka, it’s the perfect place to enjoy music in the sun.

Events start at midday, so a big breakfast will help set you up. You won’t be short on lunch and dinner options either, with stalls catering for all dietary (and non-dietary) needs, providing vegan, vegetarian, gluten and dairy free options. There are also free water refill stations, so bring your clear, non-metal water bottles to stay hydrated!

Laneway takes place in February in capital cities across Australia making it easy for locals and travellers with plenty of accommodation available. Tickets tend to be released in September, and prices start from $190 (early bird), and go up to $300. For more information, visit their website here Laneway Festival

2. Strawberry Fields

November, 3 days

Tocumwal, NSW

Celebrating the Australian bush in all its glory, Strawberry Fields is not for the faint hearted. This 18+ electronic festival takes place in The Wildlands, about 2.5 hours out of Melbourne, so if you’re happy to ditch the designer shoes and get down and dirty, this may be the festival for you.

Founded in 2009 by (then) teenager Tara Benney, along with best friends Elliot Rothfield and Billy Straughton, Strawberry Fields encompasses everything they love about camping and music. Set on the banks of the Murray River, you can enjoy a dip (or wash), or better yet, pack your favourite float.

Sustainability is highly prioritised to keep the natural oasis as protected as possible. We’re talking 100% composting toilets, water filtration systems and the first festival to introduce 100% reusable crockery, which they have since received A Greener Festival Award.

If DJs and raw Aussie talent are your thing, the music won’t disappoint. Each year, over 150 musicians, breakthrough and aspiring, are selected to display their work. Over time, Strawberry Fields has welcomed a mix of techno, house, hip-hop and funk and soul. Past festivals included sets from DJ Seinfield, Moodymann, Uone, Dean Turnley and emerging talent-Your Girl Pho. Beyond the music, you can also enjoy performance art, workshops, and a bush spa!

Like a Wildlands Wonderland, the organisers make a big effort to set up many weird and wonderful hidden gems on site, such as an oriental tea lounge and artificial beach. Just follow the thumping bass and trails of glitter. There is also a wide selection of food stalls- Mexican, Greek, Japanese, and Indian to name a few. What also sets this festival apart from the rest is that it’s a BYO! That’s right, prepare to drag your coolers around (half-asleep) among many like-minded strangers. A unique, and colourful escape from the mundane.

To get tickets, you have to pre-register on the festival website for the ticket ballot. Tickets can set you back anywhere between $250-$300. Free camping is included with every festival ticket (this includes your car if you wish), general tent camping, or for those festival queens, glamping in luxurious tents is available for a fee.

There is also the option to stay in Tocumwal, but some argue that you would be doing it wrong. The festival is well connected by shuttle bus from Melbourne CBD, but tickets are limited. This festival has previously sold out, so you have to be quick! For more information on pricing, camping and how to get there, you can visit Strawberry Fields.

3. Bluesfest

April, 5 days

Byron Bay, NSW

Every year at Easter, 100,000+ music fans pack their dancing shoes (and gumboots) and flock to Bluesfest blues and roots festival, an easy-going festival for kicking back and enjoying some amazing local and overseas artists.

Originally a blues music event, it quickly outgrew its’ first home at the Arts Factory in Byron. Fast-forward 24 years, and the festival has grown to include over 200 acts performing at the 300-acre Tea Tree Farm, 15 minutes northwest of hippies’ paradise Byron Bay. 

Bluesfest is geared for a wide audience including students, seniors and strollers (yes, babies are welcomed), with dress including everything from tattoos to tassels and dreadlocks to drag, making it a safe and inclusive space for all. Audience diversity is reflected in the range of international artists, from Tom Jones and Jack Johnson to John Legend and Hozier.

Bluesfest runs every April for 5 days, each day providing 12 hours of entertainment including 5 licensed bars, 100 food and market stalls, and child entertainment. Remember to pack some warm clothes for those cooler nights.

There are plenty of camping options, including standard camping, and glamping in a tipi (a kitted-out palace). Campervans, motorhomes and trailers are welcome, but large vehicle passes are required. There is also an onsite café for that well-needed morning fuel and coffee. Staying in Byron is also an option as only a stones’ throw away. Tickets cost anywhere between $100-$500 and under 10s are allowed free entry, reflecting the family focus of this event. You can find more information about the festival, and ticket sales here.

4. Beyond The Valley

December/ January, 4 days

Barunah Plains, Victoria

A relative newcomer in festival terms, Beyond The Valley (BTV)started in 2014 and has since become Australia’s biggest new years’ festival running over four days and hosting mainstream, electronic, and Aussie favourites such as DMA’S, G-Flip, The Kooks, Tyler the Creator and Jamie XX.

Founder Nicholas Grecko was on a path to becoming an accountant before a music festival ignited his love of music. After hosting a few club nights, Nic joined forces with three like-minded individuals in their 20s with the aim of creating a festival experience they would want for themselves.

BTV now takes place on the green acres of Barunah Plains and has become a bucket list event for music festival lovers. Boho and chic dress come to mind for those ladies that will be spotted by the hair and beauty tents, or party shirts and fishnets for the ones that may be spotted in the DJ tents where the raving happens. Beyond the music there is plenty to do including yoga and wellness tents, speed dating, fake weddings (in an inflatable church- I’ll say no more), or you can attend the beach club equipped with shipping-container pools.

General and premium camping is available, and there are general stores onsite where you can purchase any last-minute essentials, like blow up mattress and torches.

Shuttle buses run from Melbourne CBD, Geelong, Colac and Torquay, and you have the option to travel in style with the Lux coaches’ option, including free flowing drinks to get the festival started. This is one of the more expensive festivals and tickets will set you back between $550-$620. Each year has a theme- so keep your eyes peeled for any announcements over their socials. For more information, or to stay up to date with BTV details, go to their website.

5. Port Fairy Folk Festival

March, 4 days

Port Fairy, Victoria

Dating back almost 50 years, The Port Fairy Folk Festival started with the main stage on the back of a flatbed truck and 280 guests. Today, the main event is held at Southcombe Park Sporting Complex where 90 artists perform across six stages for 20,000 visitors of all ages. Previous festivals have attracted artists including Ireland’s own Sinead O’ Connor, Scottish legends the Proclaimers, and Australian musicians 19-Twenty and Alice Skye.

The festival was started by Jamie McKew, who first set up The Folk Music Club and then, with the support of the Port Fairy community, set up the village programme, so non-ticket holders can also enjoy live music in smaller venues across town, such as book shops and cafes.

Beyond the music events, Port Fairy is a seaside town rich in pubs, boutiques and plenty of accommodation, and the festival includes interactive workshops, music theatre, forums, writing and dance programmes and folk art. It’s a relaxed event with no specific dress and anything goes! For extra comfort, it’s recommended you BYOC (bring your own chair).

Ticket buyers can expect to pay $69-$120 for a weekend ticket, and this includes one vehicle. Rent-a-tent is available (must have a ticket) and there are powered sites. There are holiday/caravan parks available to book and a bus service runs from Warrnambool and the Gum Tree Caravan Park and a shuttle operates every 30 minutes to take people around town and to and from the arena. To find out more about the festival or how to purchase tickets, visit their website.

6. Bass in the Grass

May, 1 day

Darwin, Queensland

Founded in 2003, the festival takes place at Mindil beach which is famous for its stellar sunsets. Set in the traditional Larrakia country, Bass in the Grass is a rite of passage for all Territorians.

It’s eclectic music selection of pop, rock, hip-hop and electronic attracts go-hard festival lovers of all ages. Crowds from across the country have previously gathered to see Dean Lewis, The Teskey Brothers, Macklemore, Guy Sebastian and Ruel.

With palm trees and pops of colour, the festival is a tropical paradise, and that’s only the shirts. If you want somewhere with easy dancing music and a good vibe, this is festival for you. Safety is prioritised which makes it the perfect choice for families and 13 and under can go free.

The Mindil Beach Sunset Markets are open between 4-9pm, serving up exotic dishes like crocodile burgers and banh mis. Experience a night around the globe with 200 stalls on offer. As you’re partying under the pink sky with your floral dress and face glitter, why not head to the sunset beach club for that final sip in the sand.

The festival is conveniently located close to the airport and Darwin CBD, with plenty of accommodation on offer. The festival has previously partnered with Darwin’s Mercure and Novotel hotels, giving ticket holders 15% off room rates. To enhance your trip, why not visit Crocosaurus Cove, Australia’s only crocodile dive experience or Charles Darwin National Park, only a 10-minute drive away.

This is a good budget option, with early bird tickets ranging between $85- $120 and a free bus operating to and from the festival. For more information about the festival and how to buy a ticket, visit BASSINTHEGRASS

7. Listen Out

September/ October, 1 day

Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Brisbane

They say when one door closes, another one opens. Listen Out was set up to replace former festival Parklife in 2013. Fuzzy Events wanted to scale things back and create a boutique event. Now this modern hip-hop and dance festival is advertised as a party.

Listen Out has previously hosted Doja Cat, Hannah Wants, AJ Tracey and The Jungle Giants, and has secured big names 21 Savage, Skepta and Melbourne DJ Soju Gang for the end of this year.

With two main stages and plenty of atmosphere, this small event won’t have you traipsing between acts (or toilets). If you enjoy house parties and clubbing with friends, this will be perfect for you. Thow in some glitter and glasses under that spring sunshine and you’re good to go.

The festival is centrally located across the capital cities, making it ideal to stay and easy to reach by car or public transport. Tickets start from $190 (1st release) and go up to $210 (4th release). For more information on the festival or how to get a ticket, you can visit their website Listen Out 2024

8. Ultra

February, 1 day

Melbourne and the Gold Coast

Calling all ravers and lovers of electronic. Ultra music festival is known for its high-profile DJs, with past ones including Carl Cox, Steve Aoki, Zedd and Darren Styles. Ultra puts on an impressive lightshow, so if you’re epileptic, it’s not recommended. Get those pulses racing, because this 18+ event is for one night only.

The late bloomer started as part of Ultra Music Festival’s worldwide expansion. First starting on Miami beach in 1999, Ultra first made its’ way to the Aussie shores in 2018 and welcomed 40,000 music fans.

The extensive fashion here is no secret. We’re talking stockings and suspenders, to fishnets and leather, people go all out. With braided hair and bikinis, tattoos and two-pieces, bopping to the beats has never looked so good.

Ultra takes place in March each year and the venues are conveniently located in Melbourne and the Gold Coast. Public transport is the popular choice for travellers. There are plenty of hotels, Airbnbs and budget hostels in both cities. Be warned this is a 100% cashless event. General admission varies from $155-$185 and VIP up to $349. For more information on how to purchase tickets, see their website.

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