An Aussie's guide to the best Australian Music Festivals

Australia Australia | 14 January 2010

When it comes to the local music scene, there’s no doubting Australia’s enthusiasm and pride in its homegrown music. Summer festivals have become the beating heart and soul of Australia’s music culture where hardcore musos, professional musicians and casual appreciators can come together and celebrate their love for good entertainment.

Every summer, you’re sure to find fans of all genres escaping the big cities for some festival fun. And for those that can’t make it to the big days, they can buy music from their favourite artists or tune in to their favourite station that’s sure to be covering the biggest acts. From dance and blues to country and pop, here’s an eclectic mix of the Top Ten Australian Music Festivals not to be missed:

Big Day Out (AUS) 2010
tours Australia from 17-31 January
By far the most anticipated national event of the festival season, the Big Day Out debuted in 1992 with headline act Violent Femmes supported by Nirvana. Since then, the event has been taken up nationwide and is now also hosted in Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, the Gold Coast, and even Auckland. In 2010, the Big Day Out features an impressive line-up including Powderfinger and Lily Allen and is to be headlined by Muse. Sydney will host two shows, with the first day’s tickets selling out in record time. The second show will be the 100th Big Day Out celebration to take place.  

Parklife Australia
tours Australia in September
Recently, Australia has seen a huge wave of outdoor dance festivals debut, and Parklife is certainly among the most popular. Parklife 2009 toured through five of Australia’s capital cities and saw Aria Award sensation Empire of the Sun take centre stage alongside Cool Kids and Junior Boys.  

Homebake Fetsival
Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney in December
Approaching its 16th year, Homebake is another national classic featuring an all-Australian line-up that shows why Australians are proud of their “homebaked” acts. Originally hosted in Byron Bay, the festival has now found its home in Sydney and is held every year in December. Last year’s sold out line-up included unbeatable Aussie acts such as Powderfinger, Jet and Silverchair with a special performance from Tim Finn. Another great reason to love homebred Australian music.  

Splendour In the Grass 2010Woodford, Queensland from 30 July to 1 August
A great celebration of music, art and craft, Splendour first debuted in 1991 and has picked up a loyal and vibrant following after a number of eclectic bookings including The Flaming Lips headlining in 2009. Traditionally housed just outside of Byron Bay, this year Splendour is temporarily relocating to Woodford for its 10th anniversary in July.  

Tamworth Country Music Festival
Various, Tamworth from 15-24 January
Recognised as one of the Top 10 music festivals in the world by Forbes magazine, this festival sees the city of Tamworth open its doors to some of the most celebrated country music artists and their fans. Taking place over ten days, attendance numbers rival the US Nashville equivalent, as over 1000 events and performances are spread across the city streets. This year’s highly anticipated performers include Kasey Chambers, The Bushwakers, Cash Only and newcomer Harmony Jones performing at various venues.  

Falls Festival
Lorne Victoria and Marion Bay, Tasmania on 31 December
Forget the fireworks, this two-day camping festival takes place New Year’s Eve and is a classic part of summertime escapism that dominates Australia. Falls Festival is hosted just outside of Lorne Victoria and Marion Bay in Tasmania. 2009 saw the Hilltop Hoods alongside the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and other top of the line acts playing in the picturesque amphitheatre set in the Otway rainforest.

Field Day
Centennial Park, Sydney on 1 January
Sydney-siders know how to ring in the New Year with a bang, but they’re even better at keeping the party going long after midnight. Hosted in Sydney on New Year’s Day, revellers take to Centennial Park to dance their socks off to some of the best local dance artists in the country. The Presets, LCD Soundsystem and Lyrics Born made sure that 2010 kicked off to a good beat.

East Coast Blues and Roots Festival
Byron Bay from 1-5 April
Also known as Bluesfest, this annual celebration takes places at Byron Bay, one of the hippest communities on the coast. Back in 1990, this was the quintessential event for folk music and pioneered the presentation of blues music in Australia. This year, Bluesfest veteran Jack Johnson headlines the five-day event, to be joined by John Butler Trio, The Gipsy Kings and Australian Idol sensation, Jessica Mauboy, while Crowded House are set to make their first appearance at Bluesfest in April.  

Soundwave Festival 2010
Touring Australia from 20 February to 1 March
How many great international acts from the alternative rock, hardcore and metal genres can be packed into one glorious festival across five great Australian cities? That’s what Soundwave attempts to answer with its stellar line-up that this year will include My Chemical Romance, Faith No More and Jane’s Addiction.

Good Vibrations 2010
Touring Australia in February
Good Vibrations draws a youthful and colourful crowd from across the country every February, with celebrations taking place in Sydney, Perth, Gold Coast and Melbourne. Organisers have booked another eclectic bill with The Killers headlining this year with help from Basement Jaxx and Kid Cudi.

Wai Chim writes for Sanity Entertainment, Australia’s leading retailer of music and entertainment.

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