Friday, February 16, 2007



Christmas is part of the long summer school vacation and during December and January you can be forgiven for thinking that half of Australia is on holiday. This is when accommodation is almost always booked out.

Australia's arts festivals attract culture vultures from all over Australia to see mainstream and fringe drama, dance, music and visual arts. The jewel in Australia's touring rock festival crown is the annual Big Day Out, a day-long showcase of major local and international bands, which hits most major cities in late January. The huge Sydney Festival, which takes up most of January, is the umbrella for a number of events from open air concerts, to street theatre and fireworks. The Adelaide Festival of Arts takes place at the beginning of March in even-numbered years. In the second week of March in odd-numbered years there's Womadelaide, Adelaide's outdoor festival of world music and dance. Melbourne has the International Comedy Festival in April, the world's biggest Writers' Festival in August and the fabulous Melbourne International Arts Festival in October. A couple of festivals to celebrate Aboriginal arts and culture include the Stompen Ground Festival, which is held in Broome in September/October and the Barunga Festival, held 80km (50mi) east of Katherine in June.

Sporty fun includes Darwin's Beer Can Regatta in mid-July, when a series of boat races are held for craft constructed entirely of beer cans, and Alice Springs' Henley-on-Todd Regatta, a boat race 'run' in September on a dry river bed. Other mainstream events include the Sydney to Hobart yacht race (from Boxing Day); the Australian Open tennis championship (Melbourne in January); the Australian Formula One Grand Prix (Melbourne in March); Australian Rules Football (around the country from March to September); and the country-stopping Melbourne Cup on the first Tuesday in November.

Gay festivals include Sydney's massive, outlandish Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, in February/March, and Melbourne's January Midsumma Festival.


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