The Adelaide Fringe Festival made history in March 2023 by smashing national box office records, with a remarkable one million tickets sold during its four-week duration. While this extraordinary achievement reflects the festival’s significance in Australia’s cultural landscape, the beauty of outdoor festivals lies in their diversity.
Australia’s vibrant arts and culture scene offers a range of experiences for those who appreciate the magic of artistic expression. In this guide, we’ll navigate the essentials for enjoying outdoor arts festivals in Australia.
Figuring out what to do and see
Before you set off on your outdoor arts festival adventure, it’s essential to have a game plan. Australia hosts various festivals throughout the year, each with its unique offerings. Here are three examples of some of the most popular festival types and what you can expect to find:
Malthouse Outdoor Stage (VIC)
The Malthouse Outdoor Stage (MOS), located in Melbourne’s contemporary arts precinct, is a must-visit for theatre and performance arts enthusiasts. Enjoy captivating live performances by some of Australia’s finest soul vocalists and songwriters. For instance, Samuel Gaskin, Laura Ingram and Carla Troiano have been amongst the many big names performing in past programs. Otherwise, keep an eye out for exciting productions and shows at this iconic venue this Summer.
Dark Mofo (TAS)
For those who seek the unconventional, Dark Mofo in Hobart is an extraordinary experience. This mid-winter festival celebrates dark and ancient rituals with a blend of music and art. Be prepared for immersive, mind-bending performances and the famous sunrise nudie dip in the River Derwent.
Rising is a newcomer to the arts scene, making waves with its diverse visual art programs, from installations, performances, live music, and unique food events. This “festival of the night” is set against the vibrant backdrop of Melbourne and is a testament to the constant innovations in the arts and culture scene in Australia.
Deciding on what to bring
Now that you’ve decided which festivals to attend, it’s time to prepare for a memorable adventure. Here are three essential items to ensure your well-being, safety, and enjoyment.
Reusable water bottle
More than convenience, a reusable water bottle is a lifesaver during a day spent out and about observing artistic wonders. While there are tons of great brands out there, Frank Green’s containers provide a stylish and sustainable solution. These bottles are designed for functionality and aesthetics, making them a perfect choice for festival-goers, especially with the Australian summer approaching. Staying hydrated is crucial in hot weather, and a Frank Green water bottle ensures easy access to refreshments throughout festivals.
Hydrating yourself with a reusable water bottle protects your body from the inside out. To ramp up your protection from the outside, consider shielding your eyes from excessive UV rays with some high-quality sunglasses. You can select neutral grey lenses with your Oakley or Arnette frames for the most colour accuracy while admiring the exhibitions, and make use of these sunnies polarisation to reduce glare from any concert stage. These enhance your overall festival experience – and make for an exciting accessory to add to your outfit!
With a trusty camera, you can document breath-taking performances, intricate art installations, and memorable moments to share online with fellow art enthusiasts. However, make sure to check festival regulations beforehand. Flash photography has a reputation for damaging the pigments in paintings, although there is a lack of direct evidence among modern camera phones. Nevertheless, some painting-centric events may have restrictions.
You can also consider bringing a folding chair for longer festival experiences and sunscreen or insect repellent to protect your skin from the elements. With these essentials in tow and a clear plan in mind, you’re ready to embark on a journey through Australia’s outdoor arts festivals.
Image: Attendees at a festival (author supplied)