© Keith McInnes
Katie Chang
June 22, 2017

Whether you’re into surfing, writing, or just partying like you have never partied before, Sydney’s home to a crop of cool festivals that’ll fit the bill. Here, six you can’t miss.

Deni Ute Muster

When: September 30 - October 1, 2016

This weekend-long festival celebrates the culture and tradition of rural Australia. An ute is a utility vehicle unique to the country and reminiscent of the late great Chevy El Camino. Even if you don’t have the namesake vehicle, you’re welcome to join in on the outdoor festivities, which include a live performance by this year’s headliner Keith Urban.


When: December 2-3, 2016

Founded by father-and-son team Grant and Matt Clifton and going on its third year, this weekend event is “where city meets country.” The lineup exclusively features popular Australian talent, like John Butler Trio and Birds of Tokyo. Plus, the attendees have the option to glamp it out at the Forbes Showgrounds.

Australian Open of Surfing

When: February 27-March 6, 2017

This eight-day event at Manly Beach (the birthplace of modern surfing) is an exciting mix of skateboarding, live music, and of course, surfing. Watch elite men and women compete for titles while soaking in the sun. The entire event is free to the public, and there’s also a trove of food trucks on site, since watching surfing can build an appetite. 

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras

When: March 2017

Lasting nearly a month, Mardi Gras (as the locals call it) is one of the most dynamic celebrations of the LGBTQ community around, culminating in the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade and Party. (Nick Jonas and Rufus Wainwright performed this year). Mardi Gras serves as a terrific opportunity for local businesses to show their support of the LGBTQ community through sponsoring floats and events.

Sydney Writers' Festival 

When: May 22-28, 2017

It’s not only the largest literary festival in Australia, but also one the five biggest in the world. Taking place in Walsh Bay, the lauded event welcomes brilliant writers from all sorts of backgrounds – think Marlon James, Hanya Yanagihara, and Mohsin Hamid – for a weeklong series of workshops, panels, even events for children.


When: mid-May through mid-June 2017

One of the few festivals held during winter, it’s also one of Sydney’s most popular, attracting approximately 112,000 visitors from all over the world. Officially billed as a festival of “light, music and ideas,” it features dazzling light displays – this year, the sails of the iconic Sydney Opera House projected indigenous Australian art – headlining musicians like Anohni and Bjork, and panels by some of the most visionary creatives in the world. 

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