Australia's summer music festival season is famed around the world. With the likes of Falls Festival, Laneway, Bluesfest, Field Day, Golden Plains, Southbound, Woodford Folk, Meredith, Sugar Mountain and Beyond The Valley all going strong -- even in the wake of the Big Day Out, Soundwave and Stereosonic shutting down in recent years -- the warmer months are always packed full of choice and fun for Aussie music lovers.
But just because the summer time is stacked full of music, doesn't mean that it's the only time of year for festival-goers to have a good time. Even in the winter months, Australia turns up the heat with a bevy of world-class lineups, proving you don't need to wait for the summer to party.
Splendour In The Grass
The crown jewel of the winter music season, and arguably the hottest ticket of the whole year, is this annual festival at Byron Bay. Coming right in the middle of the cold months, toward the end of July, it's a perfect date to look forward to -- scheduled for the point of the year when you're wishing for the sun to return, a perfect time to head to the north coast of NSW for a bit of warmth and light.
Headlined by The xx, Queens of the Stone Age and LCD Soundsystem this year, it's one of the biggest lineups in years and of course, it's sold out. No wonder, with three days of amazing music, art, craft, food and other surprises. Check out our guide for preparing for Splendour here.
Yours and Owls
Keen to head somewhere new? The Yours and Owls festival in Wollongong is one of the most interesting and compelling new festivals in the country, growing from humble beginnings on the NSW south coast into a thriving, multi-day lineup with some of the best bands in the country. This year's event, coming on the October long weekend, features At The Drive In, The Presets, The Preatures, Illy, Safia, Dune Rats and way more.
"We've just been gradually getting better at everything. Now we don't have to focus all our energy on making sure the wheels don't fall off," laughed festival founder Ben Tillman.
"That means we're able to put that into other parts and details at the festival. We're bringing in a lot of different stuff this year, like more art and another stage."
The Yours and Owls festival has always had a strong focus on artistic elements in addition to the music. Drafting in local and national artists and creatives to build a dizzying collection of feature pieces, from ambitious art installations and graffiti walls to a custom-built gazebo-type structure made of wooden crates housing a tiny dance floor, the festival is a feast for the eyes as well as the ears. This year will also see an entire stage devoted to local music.
"The local element has always been important for us. We're from the area, we're not just promoters coming into an area to throw a festival to make money. The whole point for us is to celebrate what's going on here, and part of that is having everyone in the community involved in this party," Tillman said.
The Last Frost
It's another one from the Yours and Owls crew in Wollongong, but with its wintry name, we couldn't resist letting you know about this mini-festival too. Going down in Illawarra on August 19, the Last Frost has lured Brisbane rockers Violent Soho out of a self-imposed mini-hiatus to headline.
There's also Cloud Control, The Kite String Tangle, Cub Sport and a bunch more billed to play the show which invites punters to "throw a log on the fire and toast your marshmallows." If you're after something a little different, check it out.
It's Australia's version of the famous South By South West festival, a huge showcase event for young up-and-coming bands. BigSound goes down in Brisbane each September, just as the weather is starting to get a little bit nicer, with a huge lineup of promising youngsters and sometimes even a few veterans.
Operating across a host of venues in Brisbane, bands rush around town trying to get to their gigs to impress industry and record label honchos, as well as play to adoring fans. In 2017, buzz bands including the likes of Clowns, Endless Heights, Hockey Dad, Joyride, Mansionair, Ruby Fields, Sloan Petersen and Winston Surfshirt will all be playing across the week, looking to impress. There's also a big lineup of speakers for a series of speeches, panels and discussions -- that list includes legendary musician Archie Roach alongside radio DJs, record label executives and other industry heavyweights.
You can buy tickets for individual gigs, or buy a day or week-long pass to get you into everything. For more info, see BigSound's website.
Staying in Brisbane, a month-long celebration of art and music will be happening through September. The Brisbane Festival brings together the likes of London Grammar, Megan Washington, Regurgitator, Angus and Julia Stone, The Preatures, Thelma Plum and many more in an impressive collection through many of Brisbane's premier venues. Besides, there's a huge lineup of theatre, dance, circus, opera and more. More than one million people are expected to stream through the festival between September 9 and 30.
Back in Sydney, the Volumes Festival will bring together some of Australia's most exciting new acts for a huge night in venues around Oxford Street. You may not know many of the names on the bill, but rest assured, you will be hearing a lot more from many of them before too long, all making waves in the music industry and among tastemakers.
Electronic producer Jonti and Melbourne post-punk outfit Gold Class are high on the bill, alongside Baro, Body Type, Fortunes, The Ocean Party, Genesis Owusu and many more. It's an impressive collection of impressive bands and DJs, and one not to be missed if you're on the lookout for a favourite new band.
And if you're in the mood to start ramping up to summer early, the Listen Out festival -- an autumn favourite, right on the cusp between the warmer months and the incoming summer -- might tick your boxes. Full of rap and electronic stars, the lineup is headed by American stars Future and Mac Miller, alongside Aussie legends What So Not, Pnau and Safia. An eclectic and heavy-hitting lineup, it's set to be a huge party to help you gear up for summer.
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