Hot days of action and adventure

March ... head to Noosa's Festival of Surfing for all things surfing, from catching waves to movies and music.
March ... head to Noosa's Festival of Surfing for all things surfing, from catching waves to movies and music. Photo: Tourism Queensland

The heat is on for events this summer and beyond, writes Lee Atkinson.

January

Woodford Folk Festival, Qld

There's no better place to bring in the new year than the Woodford Folk Festival in the Sunshine Cost hinterland, with more than 2000 performers and 580 events over six days and nights. Headline artists this year include Angus and Julia Stone, Kate Miller-Heidke, Archie Roach, Urthboy, Wagons, the Saints, and John Butler Trio. More than just a music festival, there are singing and dancing workshops, circus shows, burlesque dancers, art classes, talks and lots of fun for kids. The highlight is the New Year's Day closing ceremony, the spectacular fire event. Woodford is 80kilometres north of Brisbane. Dec 27-Jan 1. www.woodfordfolkfestival.com.

Bucket and spade ... The Australian Sand Sculpting Championships.
Bucket and spade ... The Australian Sand Sculpting Championships. 

Summernats, ACT

It would be easy to dismiss the annual street-machine festival as just for revheads with more than 1500 hot rods and customised cars on show, stunt shows and the national burnout masters championship, but there's also a great line-up of rock'n'roll, fireworks, children's activities and a street parade. Exhibition Park, Canberra, Jan 3-6. summernats.com.au.

MONA FOMA, Tas

Summernats.
Summernats. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

The Festival of Music and Art put on by MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art, is a five-day music and art festival that spreads out across Hobart. Curated by Brian Ritchie from the Violent Femmes, the line-up features artists and performers from all over the world. The festival hub is at Princes Wharf, Salamanca, although you'll find performances, parties, theatre, installations and even mind-clearing meditation popping up all around the city. Many of the events are free. Hobart, Jan 16-20. mofo.net.au.

Tamworth Country Music Festival, NSW

Country music fans have been getting bootscooted and bushwacked at the country's biggest celebration of all things country for more than 40 years, but new in 2013 is the inclusion of international artists to the entertainment line-up, a fan zone where you can meet your favourite artists, the launch of the Australian Country Music Busking Championships and the family-friendly Festival Village where you can book a furnished tent from just $35 a night. Don't forget your cowboy hat. Jan 18-27. tamworthcountrymusic.com.au.

The Australian International Airshow.
The Australian International Airshow. 

Festival of Sails, Vic

Australia's largest keel boat regatta, the Festival of Sails was first held in 1844, making it the oldest sporting event in Victoria. More than 400 yachts take part but it's the waterfront festival that really attracts the crowds with free entertainment, from live music to kids' rides, a food and wine fair, water ski stunt shows and beach activities. Geelong waterfront, Jan 24-28. festivalofsails.com.au.

Churchill Island Kids Festival, Vic

There's more than just penguins to delight kids on Phillip Island this summer. Phillip Island Nature Parks is holding the Kids Festival at Churchill Island (connected to Phillip Island by a bridge) over the Australia Day long weekend, with performances from some of the kids' favourites, including Dorothy the Dinosaur, Peppa Pig and Ben 10 and Gwen. Other activities include games and farming demonstrations. Phillip Island, Victoria. Jan 26-28. penguins.org.au.

WA Circus Festival

Roll up, roll up, the circus is in town. Three days and three nights of non-stop circus fun from midday to midnight with circus shows, comedy, cabaret and theatre from around the world in several big-top (and little-top) venues. The program features more than 60 performers as well as music, market stalls, food and wine and even a flying trapeze for those who want to have a go. Karridale, 30kilometres south of Margaret River, Jan 26-28. lunarcircus.com.

February

Australian Blues Music Festival, Goulburn, NSW

Tamworth might be the home of country music, but Goulburn is the home of Australian blues and the Australian Blues Music Awards. The four-day festival features more than 70 free shows in various venues around Goulburn and headline acts this year will include Jeff Lang, Bondi Cigars and Dreamboogie. Feb 7-10. austbluesfestival.laing-entertainment.com.au.

Australian Wooden Boat Festival, Tas

If you like messing about in boats then head to Hobart for the largest wooden boat festival in the southern hemisphere. The display includes everything from magnificent tall ships to beautiful hand-crafted boats. New this year is the Children's Village on the lawns of Hobart's Parliament House with kid-friendly theatre, rides, entertainment and dressing up (as pirates, of course). Master chef Tetsuya Wakuda will be cooking, the Royal Australian Navy will put on some fast-action displays, and the hilarious Quick 'n' Dirty Boat Building Challenge will involve teams of school kids building and racing their own craft. Hobart, Feb 8-11. australianwoodenboatfestival.com.au.

Perth International Arts Festival, WA

The longest-running annual international arts festival in the country features contemporary and classical music, dance, theatre, opera and art. There are 23 free events - one each day of the festival - and highlights of the 2013 line-up include bombs and pyrotechnics, big-top circus shows, light projections and a writers festival. Feb 8-March 2. perthfestival.com.au.

Chinchilla Melon Festival, Qld

Your mother might have told you not to play with your food, but those rules don't apply in Chinchilla during melonfest. This two-yearly festival in the "melon capital of Australia" features lots of quirky events such as melon skiing, melon bungee, melon bullseye, pip spitting and melon tossing. Chinchilla is 290kilometres west of Brisbane, via Toowoomba. Feb 14-17. melonfest.com.au.

Australian Sand Sculpting Championships, Qld

It wouldn't be summer without a day spent making sandcastles but if your palaces always end up a bit wonky, get some tips from the experts at the Australian Sand Sculpting Championships in Surfers Paradise. The 2013 event has a safari theme and 10 artists will turn the beach into an outdoor art gallery as lions, elephants, zebra and hippos emerge from the sand. The main attraction will be a 60-tonne collaborative work between all sculptors. Surfers Paradise beach, Feb 15-24. surfersparadise.com.

March

Australian International Airshow, Vic

Marvel at those magnificent men (and hopefully a few women) in their flying machines as they take to the skies over Geelong with thrilling aerial displays, including death-defying wing walking. There's also a ground display of vintage, commercial and military aircraft. The Australian Airshow is the only one in the world to have a flying pyrotechnic night show. Avalon Airport, March 1-3. airshow.com.au.

Enlighten, ACT

Sydney has Vivid, Canberra has Enlighten, four nights of live performances, tours, talks, late-night exhibitions and stunning light shows projected against some of the capital's iconic buildings, including the National Library and Old Parliament House. Light shows are between 8pm and 1am on the weekends (March 1-2 and 8-9) and there are more than 35 free and ticketed events. Enlighten coincides with Canberra's centenary celebrations. March 1-9. enlightencanberra.com.

Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, Vic

Pack your best stretchy pants if you're heading to Melbourne in March because it will be impossible to resist overindulging during the 17-day gourmet food fest. The festival kicks off with the world's longest lunch at a table set for 1000 and includes more than 200 foodie events, such as classes, wine tastings, special dinners and talks. New this year is the Earth Masterclass, an outdoor roaming event with interactive workshops culminating in a grand feast under the stars. March 1-17. melbournefoodandwine.com.au.

WOMADelaide, SA

There aren't many music festivals that appeal to adults and kids alike, but WOMADelaide is not your ordinary music festival. WOMAD stands for World of Music, Arts & Dance and features performances and workshops on seven stages by the world's best traditional and contemporary musicians and dancers, as well as street theatre, art and a Taste the World cooking program with celebrity chefs and musical stars. Children are welcome (under-12s are free) and there is a KidZone activity area with music and art workshops. Botanic Park, Adelaide, March 8-11. womadelaide.com.au.

Noosa Festival of Surfing, Qld

Dust off the mal and head to Noosa and hang 10, hang five or just hang out at one of the biggest longboard surfing events in the world. Not just for the pros, the week-long celebration of surf and surf culture includes amateur and professional surfing and stand-up paddleboard events, beach movie nights, surfing memorabilia auctions, beach parties and free surf music. A family highlight this year will be the first dog surfing competition, where competitors ride stand-up paddleboards with their dogs perched on the front of the board. March 10-16. noosafestivalofsurfing.com.

Ten Days on the Island, Tas

If you've been looking for a good reason to cross Bass Strait, this arts festival of international and home-grown theatre, dance, visual arts, music, film, opera and literature is the perfect excuse. New in 2013 will be a focus on 10 towns. Launceston, Burnie and Greater Hobart will go all the way with 10 full days of events while Huonville, Campbell Town, Swansea, Deloraine, St Helens, Queenstown, Devonport and Latrobe will each host three to four days of festivities. March 15-24. tendaysontheisland.org.

Easter events to plan ahead for

Byron Bay Bluesfest Stars of the international (and local) blues and roots music scene gather at Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm, 11 kilometres north of Byron Bay, for one of the most popular music festivals in the country. Tickets and camping spots sell out fast, so get in early. March 28-April 1. bluesfest.com.au.

Lightning Ridge Easter Festival Novelty races, entertainment and fireworks ... it's all a bit mad but nowhere does colourful quite like the Ridge. March 29-31. lightningridgeinfo.com.au.

Australian Billy Cart Championships, Corowa Forget the race that stops a nation, this is the billy cart derby to end all derbies. Expect thrills, spills and scraped knees. March 30. australianbillycartchampionships.com.au.

Maclean Highland Gathering 2013 will be the 109th time that thousands of kilt wearers and bagpipe blowers descend on Maclean, near Yamba on the NSW north coast, for the annual Highland Games, with plenty of highland dancing, caber tossing, log wrestling and hammer tossing. March 29-30. macleanhighlandgathering.com.au.

National Folk Festival Enjoy more than 100 concerts during five days of folk music, art and culture from around the world at Exhibition Park in Canberra. March 28-April 1. folkfestival.org.au.

Canberra Centenary

On March 12 it will be 100 years to the day since Lady Denman, wife of then governor-general Lord Denman, announced the name of the new Australian capital would be Canberra. The city is planning a year-long program of events to celebrate, but the big birthday weekend is a five-day party bash from Friday, March 8 through to the official birthday ceremony outside Parliament House on Tuesday, March 12 at 11am. Monday is the big day with celebrations around the lake including parades, several music stages and a world premiere of a new centenary symphony culminating in a fireworks finale. canberra100.com.au.

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