Summer Music Festival Guide

When the summer season roles around I get excited by five things- Christmas, going the beach, afternoon barbeques, mangos and of course, summer music festivals. Nothing says summer like a day spent dancing to your favourite bands in the scorching sun. But with the number of events on offer, choosing the right festival for you can be somewhat overwhelming. Never fear, for I have done the research for you – sorting the best from the rest, the east from the west.

Combining a road trip and a music festival creates the perfect summer get away. Good friends, your dad’s tent, the perfect mix tape and some gumboots are the only ingredients you need for a camping festival success. Often hosted in late January over New Year’s Eve, this type of party is only for those with stamina, who are more than willing to get a little grubby. With options all over the country, a little dirt is the least of your problems, how will you choose?

States go head to head, with NSW offering up the Peat’s Ridge Sustainable Art’s and Music Festival (29th Dec – 1st Jan), QLD hosting the Woodford Folk Festival (27th Dec – 1st Jan), VIC pulls out the stops with Falls Festival (28th Dec – 1st Jan) and WA offering up the later Southbound Festival (7th Jan – 8th Jan). Eco warriors will appreciate the Peat’s Ridge sustainability ethos, and will likely love the headliners, with chilled out acts like Xavier Rudd, The Holidays and Gotye taking the stage. Falls festival patrons will see the likes of Tim Finn, Missy Higgins, Fleet Foxes and Grouplove storm the stage. Yet Southbound Festival takes the line up cake, hosting a massive number of world class acts like Aloe Blacc, Artic Monkeys, The Naked and Famous, Regurgitator, The Jezebels, The Kooks and many more.

Start the New Year afresh with the first festival on the first day of the year, Sydney’s Field Day. For the last three years I have made the trip out to the Domain, often combating searing heat and too many Southern Cross tattoo sightings. Before my first visit I was a little apprehensive- I’m not a huge dance music DJ fan and I hardly knew anyone on the line up. I was happily relived then that the small but well laid out venue gave the festival a chilled out vibe, one in which you could have a dance and then retreat to the shade of a near by tree to have something to eat and indulge in my favourite festival past time- people watching. Top of the bill? Justice, Gotye, Metronomy and Crystal Castles.

There’s no better way to spend Australia Day than at the ultimate Australian festival – Big Day Out. With massive crowds and a monster line up, expect to see the unexpected. Festival goers are as varied as the line up, with 15 year old teeny boppers, indie hipsters and all out rockers rubbing shoulders across the various stages.  This year will see Kanye West, My Chemical Romance, Foster the People, Girl Talk, Kasabian and more try to win over the maddening crowd.

Those looking for something a little more chilled are best to wait it out until March for the quirky Secret Garden Festival. Held in an unknown location one hour from Sydney, tickets go on sale before a line up is even announced. This is a festival more about the experience than the who’s who, with dress ups and garden gnomes peppered through out ‘garden’. Decorated to resemble exactly what the name suggests, it’s about delighting in a fantasyland, where the fairies and storybook characters meet for fun and games in the fading summer light.

This guide is purely the tip of the iceberg, as I’m barely able to touch the surface on the sheer volume of festivals and performances taking place across the country. No matter which you choose, don’t forget the festival essentials – sun cream, insect repellent, tonnes of water and a good pair of closed in shoes. So go forth and get purchasing, tickets sell out fast. But most important of all- stay safe and have fun!


Images via Secret Garden and Angus McConnell

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