Top Outdoor Events for 2015

We are a nation of parks and peaks, beaches and boundless spaces, therefore it’s only natural we want to get out there and enjoy it this summer. With so many festivals and outdoor entertainment opportunities on offer, here are the expert tips to ensure you get the best out of the great outdoors – day and night!

There seems to be a growing trend for outdoor events, and there's no doubt why. With the warm weather we're currently experiencing, what could be better than being out in the open air to really add atmosphere and excitement?!  Whether it's a food and wine festival, movie premiere, or even the theatre, there's bound to be something to take your fancy.

Food Festival Director Joanna Savill and Caroline Kemp, Head of Art at Fairfax Events, share their expert tips for outdoor events.

Empty Nesters

The NSW Food and Wine Festival’s Sydney Cellar Door (Feb 27-March 1, 2015) and the monthly The Sydney Morning Herald Growers’ Market (Feb 7 and the first Saturday of the month thereafter) are relaxed, premium events with an emphasis on fine food and wine. “The Grower’s Market showcases up to 70 amazing food and drinks producers, farmers and providores in the most beautiful outdoor setting, right by the harbour at Pyrmont,” adds Joanna.

The Spectrum Playground is perfect for Empty Nesters! Connect with the artists of our city – be inspired. Outdoor cinemas or the opera outside create a sense of connection to the community.


Night Noodle Markets definitely! “We kick off the year with Enlighten Noodle Markets (Feb 27 – March 8 2015) in Canberra, the very first time this amazingly popular event will come to the national capital!” enthuses Joanna. “As it’s part of the annual Enlighten Festival there will be incredible lighting and other attractions to add to the outdoor atmosphere,” she adds. “Western Australia can often miss out on some big touring events as it is so far away. The cost is too great to ship everything there,” says Caroline. So when a good music festival rolls into town, grab a ticket. In 2015, St Jeromes Laneway Festival – now in its tenth year – is one not to miss.

Multi-generational get-togethers

“The Chinese, Thais, Koreans and Vietnamese traditionally get together on the eve of the Lunar New Year (February 18),” explains Joanna. “We reckon it’s a great opportunity for all families, regardless of cultural heritage, to see in the New Moon which traditionally heralds new beginnings!” 

Out of towners

Tourists are tempted by the fare of the locals, so Adelaide’s Cellar Door Festival is a must for southern state travellers, showcasing the best of wine and food from the region this February.

Heading into Winter – well in the southern states anyway – you can escape the cold and head to the Northern Territory for the Barunga Festival, a community festival heralded as one of the most important in Australia with events revolving around the indigenous communities, celebrating sport, circus, dance, culture, music and workshops.

Warm weather winners

Outdoor festivals and events are best served warm, so up until mid-year, here are some of the best fest’s to find in your city. Your time starts now!

Australian Open of Surfing, Manly Beach, NSW

Surfing is the thread that binds an iconic Australian summer, and this event showcases the sport at its finest. A day on the sand can include anything from junior male and female champions in the water to skate enthusiasts doing their thing on dry land. There are vendor displays open each day and live music – including Jagwar Ma and Vance Joy – to keep the good vibes rolling in faster than the waves.


Cellar Door Wine Festival, Adelaide, 20 Feb – 22 Feb, S.A 

Aside from the best wine in the country, the Cellar Door Festival's Farmers' Market - open daily from 11-5pm - is a feast for the non-swillers also. With the best in cheese choices, through to beef and baguettes, no taste bud will be left unturned after a wander amongst the wares. There is also a dedicated kids corner for the creative culinary hopefuls offering demonstrations in baking and cooking.

Bass In The Grass Music Festival, 23 May, 2015

Conducted in the Darwin Amphitheatre, this Northern Territory government run event focuses on local and emerging talent in one of the most picturesque and awe-inspiring surrounds our country has to offer. Keeping its grass roots, local artists are invited to submit their music to be considered as a headlining act. Think you’ve got what it takes? Then get in before April 1 for your potential big break!

Sculpture By The Sea, Cottesloe, WA, March 6 – 23

Now in its eleventh year, the western seaboard becomes a gallery of gigantic proportions with 23 artists representing nine international countries including Denmark, New Zealand and USA. Free ‘tactile tours’ are on offer so that you can really discover the message and motivation behind the displays during a guided tour from the Marine Parade. Bookings essential.

Cooly Rocks On: Gold Coast and Tweed Heads, May 29

The main attraction may be motors here, but Australia’s biggest 50s and 60s nostalgia festival also offers dancing, markets, craft and fashion over two massive weeks. Miss Cooly Rocks is a tasteful twist on the beauty pageant, with the theme heavy on vintage glamour, and the V8 Billy Cart Derby is a must see – and open to all ages. If that’s not enough for you, then the rock n’ roll, swing and rockabilly dance competition is sure to keep you on your well-shod toes!

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Fair Day, Sunday, Feb 22

Mardi Gras is not only about the parade. Get into the spirit at the annual fair day at Victoria Park, which offers fun – in dress-ups and drag – for all ages. With picnics and parties, market stalls, rides for kids and comedy shows, this is one event that embraces all walks of life in a ribbon of righteous colour!

Top tips for a fuss-free event

1. Safety is key, cautions Caroline. “Choose something that has been around for a while and has a good reputation, or the organisers have a good reputation,” she says.

2. Timing is everything: “Early or late is good for beating crowds but if it’s maximum action and ambience you are after, come in the middle and into the full swing of things,” advises Joanna.

3. Make a plan of things you really want to see: certain wineries or food stalls, particular entertainment acts, and plot out your afternoon or evening.

4. Don’t drive. “It’s a hassle to park and usually adds unnecessary expense,” warns Joanna. “Public transport is available for all events and really is part of the fun – everyone is in a great mood and excited to be heading to the same place.”

5. It’s always good to come prepared with sunscreen, a hat and a plastic poncho. Just in case! A light umbrella is actually a great option as it can act as sun protection as well as warding off rain.

6. Cash is handy as most events have ATMs but you don’t want to spend the whole day queuing. “We are working towards cashless events by 2016 but it’s best to be prepared,” says Joanna.

7. “Read the FAQ pages on the internet,” suggests Caroline. “We event producers have thought of everything for you. Some events allow food and alcohol, others don’t – some are pet friendly – others may have restrictions.”

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