1 March 2018
NSW is home to a thriving music scene, with plenty of vibrant festivals taking place throughout the year. Check out some of the biggest and best music festivals in NSW, and start planning your festival favourites for the year ahead.
Known simply as ‘Falls’ to the festival-going crowd, Falls Music & Arts Festival is held at four locations around Australia over the New Year’s period. The third leg of the festival takes place at Yelgun, a small valley located roughly 30 minutes north of Byron Bay. For three days, the North Byron Parklands sets the backdrop for a stellar lineup of music acts, as well as art installations, dance performances, comedy and theatre, makers’ markets, pop-up bars, beer gardens and more. As of December 2015, Yelgun is also the only Falls Festival venue to feature a custom-built water park. Dubbed ‘Palm Springs’, this play area combines inflatable pools and tropical party music, all with a 1980s Californian vibe.
The Tamworth Country Music Festival is one of regional NSW’s biggest events. In fact, this is the second largest country music festival in the world, only eclipsed by the one in Nashville. Each January, more than 200,000 people flock to Australia’s country music capital for 10 days of world-class country, blues, folk and rock music. On the main street, hundreds of buskers will also showcase their skills in the hopes of winning a chance to perform on the final night of the festival. The festival program features an incredible 700 artists and 2,800 events, making it an unmissable event for any country music lover. With a legacy dating back to 1972, the Tamworth Country Music Festival is one of Australia’s favourite – and most iconic – music festivals.
Since its debut in 1990, Bluesfest has grown to claim an annual audience of more than 100,000 people. Today, Australia’s premier blues and roots music festival attracts leading names in blues, roots, rock, folk, world and soul music, with past performers including Bob Dylan, Erykah Badu, Paul Simon, Joss Stone, Earth, Wind & Fire, James Brown and Mary J Blige. This famously laidback festival also boasts more than 100 food and market stalls, five licensed bars, beer gardens, children’s entertainment, and camping facilities for up to 6,000 people. With five days of fun to enjoy at Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm, Bluesfest is one of the most unforgettable ways to soak up the Easter long weekend in NSW.
Splendour in the Grass began in 2001 with modest aspirations: to bring one day of music to the Australian winter. Today, this three-day event is officially the largest winter music festival in the country. Splendour in the Grass is known for delivering eclectic lineups, with past programs featuring everyone from Vampire Weekend, Sigur Ros, Bonobo and The Strokes to Kanye West, Lily Allen and Death Cab for Cutie. There are also a number areas to explore away from the main stage. The Tipi Forest sees DJs and visual artists cast a transfixing spell of techno, trance, drum and bass, trap, breakbeat, deep house, and more. The Global Village is where you’ll find world music, yoga and meditation classes, and dance performances, while the Bohemian Lounge hosts workshops during the day, with poetry and jazz performances at night.
Defqon.1 is an international festival with events in the Netherlands, Australia, and Chile. In September, Defqon.1 transforms Sydney International Regatta Centre into the ultimate party island for hardcore and hardstyle music fans, with 12 hours of hardcore techno, hard house, hard trance and more. Like its parent festival in the Netherlands, Defqon Australia is known for its extravagant stages, lighting displays and decorations. Many fans consider the Endshow to be the highlight of the festival; this mind-boggling finale sees the main stage explode in a perfectly synchronised display of music, lasers, fireworks, light projections, and flames.
Held in Port Macquarie, Festival of the Sun is one of NSW’s best boutique music festivals. Festival of the Sun limits its capacity to just 3,000 people, allowing festival-goers to enjoy a unique, family-friendly atmosphere. The festival begins with markets, art and craft workshops, and free performances at the Comedy Stand. Guests can also enjoy food stalls, art installations, and buckets of local talent from the likes of Ball Park Music, Tash Sultana, The Smith Street Band, Gang of Youths, and The Preatures. Festival tickets include free camping, but those looking for a touch of luxury can upgrade to a powered site or even purchase a pre-pitched tent package. With fantastic music and a beachfront location, Festival of the Sun is the perfect way to welcome summer in NSW.