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Public Holidays in Australia
  • January
    • Festival of Sydney, NSW. A month of festivities, with something for absolutely everyone.
    • Montsalvat Jazz Festival, Eltham, VIC. Australia's premier jazz festival, which takes place on the Montsalvat Estate over Australia Day weekend; book well ahead.
    • Tamworth Country Music Festival, Tamworth, NSW. A week of Slim Dusty and his ilk, culminating in the Australian Country Music Awards.
  • February
    • Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, NSW. Sydney's proud gay community's festival begins at the end of February and lasts three weeks, ending with an extravagant parade and an all-night dance party.
    • Festival of Perth, WA. A month of "low-brow arts" at venues all over the city.
    • Bindoon Rock Festival, Bindoon, WA. WA's answer to Woodstock or Reading, with some visiting overseas bands.
  • March
    • Adelaide Arts Festival, SA. The country's best-known and most innovative arts festival (biennial, in even years); not to be missed.
    • Melbourne Moomba Festival, VIC. Eleven days of partying, beginning and ending with fireworks and lots of fun in between.
  • April
    • Barossa Valley Vintage Festival, SA. Biennial (odd years) Germanic festival set in the country's viticultural heart.
    • Melbourne International Comedy Festival, VIC. Opening on April Fools' Day, comics from around the world gather for three weeks.
  • May
    • Bangtail Muster, Alice Springs, NT. Nutty parades and Outback silliness.
  • June
    • Melbourne International Film Festival, VIC. The country's largest and most prestigious film festival, lasting two weeks.
    • Sydney International Film Festival, NSW. Also an important film festival, running for over two weeks in June and based at the glorious State Theatre.
    • Barunga Sports Festival, Beswick Aboriginal Land, NT. A rare and enjoyable chance to encounter Aboriginal culture in the NT. No alcohol.
    • Cape York Aboriginal Dance Festival, QLD. Three-day, alcohol-free celebration of authentic Aboriginal culture. Biennial in odd-numbered years.
  • July
    • Camel CupAlice Springs, NT. Camel-racing down the dry Todd River.
    • Darwin Beer Can Regatta, NT. Mindil Beach is the venue for the recycling of copious empties into a variety of nutty seacraft. Also a thong-throwing contest; Territorian eccentricity personified.
  • August
    • Shinju Matsuri Festival, Broome, WA. Probably the most remote big festival, which doesn't stop the town being packed for this Oriental-themed pearl festival.
    • Mount Isa Rodeo, Mount Isa, QLD. Australia's largest rodeo - a gritty, down-to-earth encounter with bulls, horses and their riders.
  • September
    • Bathurst 1000 Road Races, Bathurst, NSW. Australia's premier weekend of car and bike street racing.
    • Birdsville Races, QLD. Once a year the remote Outback town of Birdsville (population 120) comes alive for a weekend of drinking and horse-racing - a well-known and definitive Australian oddity.
    • Warana, Brisbane, QLD. Huge, two-week arts festival centred in the city's Botanic Gardens with food, wine, beer, music, writing and children's events topped off with fireworks and a wacky Concours de Decadence.
    • Melbourne International Festival of the Arts, VIC. Two-week celebration of visual, performing and written arts in venues all over the city.
  • October
    • Henley-on-Todd Regatta, Alice Springs, NT. Wacky races in bottomless boats running down the dry Todd riverbed; the event is heavily insured against the river actually flowing.
    • Manly Jazz Festival, Sydney, NSW. Three-day jazz festival with artists from all over the world.
  • November
    • Australian Grand Prix, Melbourne, VIC. Formula One street-racing which follows a week of partying; formerly held in Adelaide, now relocated to Albert Park in Melbourne.
    • Melbourne Cup, Flemington Racecourse, VIC. 130-year-old horse race which brings the entire country to a standstill around the radio or TV.
  • December
    • Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, Sydney, NSW. Crowds flock to the harbour to witness the start of this classic regatta which departs Sydney on Boxing Day and arrives in Hobart three days later.
    • The Christmas holidays and New Year's Eve are celebrated with gusto everywhere.

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