We love camping festivals as much as the next person, but sometimes you just want to soak up a bunch of music in the city without having to pile all your gear into a car and drive to a paddock three hours away, and would rather a short train ride.
But, the question is, which capital city has the best music festivals?
To help you decide, we’ve collected two of our favourite festivals from every capital city, sticking to a couple of ground rules: we’re only picking festivals in capital cities (or pretty close by), and we’ve also tried to stick to festivals that are unique to each city as much as we can (so no Laneway, Listen Out or Gizzfest).
That said, here are some great Aussie music festivals that are worth visiting a whole new city for.
Brisbane Festival – Brisbane
This year’s Brisbane Festival is bringing a huge list of talent to the city from September 9 – 30, with a bunch of special gigs including, among many others:
- A headline performance from London Grammar hot on the heels of their new album Truth Is A Beautiful Thing
- Megan Washington giving a special performance with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra
- Angus & Julia Stone returning to the stage after a long break with their new album SNOW
- Melbourne hard-rockers High Tension bringing their intense set to the rock-loving Brisbane
- Australian icons Tex, Don, and Charlie (ie. Beasts Of Bourbon, The Cruel Sea and Cold Chisel) returning for a rare show
And the list goes on, with Ali Barter, The Preatures, Regurgitator, Thelma Plum, Ngaiire, and Ed Kuepper of Aussie legends The Saints playing a bunch of their hits with his new outfit The Aints – we’ve got a list of ten gigs you need to check out right here.
As well as all the music, there’ll also be a stack of comedy, theatre and art performances flooding into the city, plus some incredible displays like the closing fireworks above, so head to the website to see everything that’s happening in Brisbane next month.
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Brisbane Festival offers up plenty of great music next month, but also art, theatre and comedy
The Blurst of Times – Brisbane
It may not be the biggest festival around, but The Blurst of Times is definitely worth a look for any rock fans when it rolls around each year, with the most recent outing in April bringing a stacked lineup of bands to Brissy’s favourite haunts The Foundry, Black Bear Lodge and The Brightside.
Skegss, Royal Headache, Alex Lahey, Columbus, Ngaiire, The Creases, Green Buzzard, I Know Leopard and more made the list this year for the festival’s fourth time round, and we’re already looking forward to seeing what they dish up in 2018.
A Day of Clarity – Adelaide
Adelaide’s boutique outing A Day Of Clarity brought some truly awesome Aussie rock bands to the City of Churches in May, with Cosmic Psychos, Screamfeeder, Hockey Dad, Mane, West Thebarton, Grenadiers and more piling into the place over two days.
Run by local music store Clarity Records, who described this year’s booking of the Psychos “a dream come true,” A Day of Clarity is just the sort of music celebration the sometimes gig-starved Adelaide needs.
Stonecutters – Adelaide
Speaking of which, there’s another gig in Adelaide that handles things very nicely indeed, and that’s one-day mini-fest Stonecutters festival, which returned to the city for its third year with some big names at the helm.
Wil Wagner, Skegss, Bleeding Knees Club and Horror My Friend lead the charge, with the year before seeing Dune Rats, The Bennies and The Hard Aches on the bill, giving Adelaide another sweet outlet for rock bands to get stuck into – plus there was a Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 tournament. Sweet.
Origin NYE – Perth
Perth may get the short end of the stick when it comes to a lot of tours, with a lot of bands declining to pay the huge airfares, but they certainly don’t miss out when it comes to NYE, with Origin putting on one hell of a party.
This year will see the one-two punch of Beyond the Valley headline acts Stormzy and Schoolboy Q, as well as big sets from Mura Masa and DJ Snake, as well as A-Trak, Baauer, Moonbase, Tourist and more. Damn solid.
Electric Gardens – Perth
This one isn’t exclusive to Perth, but it’s one of the biggest events to hit the city all year, and the 2018 showing is shaping up spectacularly with Fatboy Slim and Gorgon City making their way to our western-most capital in January next year.
The Red Hill Auditorium also makes for a spectacular setting, having played host to big names like Eric Prydz and Basement Jaxx in previous years, and it’s one of our favourite places to catch a gig in the country.
Dark Mofo – Hobart
This is the event that has really put Tassie on the map as one of Australia’s cultural capitals, as each year hundreds of thousands of people pour into the small city to enjoy an array of music, food and art spread throughout the city’s beautiful waterside hills.
This year saw a heap of great performances, from Paul Kelly and A.B. Original to the dark club setting of Transliminal, and the impressive laser and band filled setting of the Dark Park. If you haven’t checked it out yet, it’s time to start planning your trip for next year.
Til the Wheels Fall Off – Launceston
This one’s cheating a little, of course, but we couldn’t pass over Til The Wheels Fall Off for anyone planning a trip to Tasmania, as it always boasts an awesome little lineup packed into its two-night span.
Run by Luca Brasi, the festival is bringing The Bennies, Camp Cope, Bad//Dreems, Ruby Fields, IV League and more this October, as well as a performance from Luca Brasi themselves of course, so we’re happy to bend the rules for this one.
Spilt Milk – Canberra
Spilt Milk has only been on the scene for a couple of years, but it’s fast become a yearly highlight for music lovers in Canberra, bringing big festival lineups that the city doesn’t often get treated to.
This year we’re seeing Lorde, Illy, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Tash Sultana, San Cisco, Alison Wonderland, Cashmere Cat, Vance Joy, Remi x Sampa The Great, and heaps more, bringing one of the most varied, crowd-pleasing lineups you’ll see anywhere in the country.
Groovin the Moo – Canberra
GTM makes its way all over the country to a series of regional venues in each state, but this is the only stop that hits up a capital city, and it’s always a treat for locals who aren’t exactly flooded with music festivals.
2017 saw Violent Soho, Tash Sultana, Milky Chance, Pnau, Amy Shark, The Wombats, The Smith Street Band, Snakehips and plenty more roll in and make some noise, and with a long history of great music, Groovin The Moo won’t be going anywhere any time soon.
Field Day – Sydney
This Sydney institution always makes for an incredible way to shake off that New Year’s hangover, and the most recent bash on January 1 this year saw Chance the Rapper, Childish Gambino, Safia, Zhu, Claptone, MSTRKRFT and more all showing up – basically a who’s who of the NYE camping festivals.
The 2018 edition has already announced Aussie favourite Golden Features and teased appearances from Mura Masa and Set Mo, so as always we’re looking forward to seeing how many other names they can pile on when January rolls around.
The Plot – Sydney
This has quickly become one of our favourite festivals in the country by putting together diverse lineups of Australia’s best emerging talent, giving Parramatta an awesome one day event this November.
This year we’ll be seeing the buzzworthy Confidence Man, Skegss, Northeast Party House, Sleepmakeswaves, Lastlings, Manu Crook$, Bec Sandridge, Alice Ivy and more, making for a who’s who of local acts on the come-up.
Sugar Mountain – Melbourne
Sugar Mountain is a little different from a lot of one day music festivals, focusing on bringing some slightly left-of-centre acts to Melbourne and giving you a range of bands you won’t usually see sharing a lineup.
The 2017 edition in January brought The Avalanches, Big Scary, The Belligerents, HABITS, Pantha Du Prince, Slum Sociable, Kucka, My Disco, Young Tapz and more to the table, and had Blood Orange on board too until a last-minute cancellation, which would have been the icing on the cake.
Let Them Eat Cake – Melbourne
And speaking of cake, here we have one of the best electronic festivals in the country, Let Them Eat Cake, which takes place at the picturesque Werribee Mansion just a little while out of the city, and always boasts some of the biggest names in electronic music.
This year’s lineup brought with it TOKiMonsta, Maribou State, Oliver Huntemann, Cut Chemist and heaps more, while previous years have also nabbed acts like Four Tet, John Hopkins and Machinedrum, always making for a brilliant way to spend NYD in Melbourne.
Bassinthegrass – Darwin
The Northern Territory’s beloved Bassinthegrass gave us a whopping lineup this year, with The Rubens, Boo Seeka, Tash Sultana, Amy Shark, Thundamentals, LDRU, John Butler Trio and even The Veronicas making for a crowd-pleasing assortment for the one-dayer.
It may not be the biggest festival going around, but it always brings together a crowd-pleasing lineup, and for anyone who hadn’t yet had the chance to see the Hottest 100-dominating pair of Tash Sultana and Amy Shark play live, this year ticked a lot of boxes.
Darwin Festival – Darwin
The 2017 Darwin Festival put on a great spread for us this year, as it does every year, bringing Ab Original, You Am I, The Cat Empire’s Felix Riebl, Clairy Browne, Dappled Cities, Ali barter, Tijuana Cartel and more.
It also played host to the National Indigenous Music Awards this year, which added performances by Paul Kelly, Dan Sultan, Emily Wurramara and rising star Baker Boy to the mix, making for one of the best weeks of the year for any music lover to plan a Northern getaway.