Fancy a getaway that encourages you to eat and drink your way around town? What about a holiday that has you tapping your toes to your favourite tunes right on the beach? Well, you’re in luck, because here are eight awesome Aussie food, wine, music and cultural festivals that you’ve probably never even heard of. They’re Australia’s best kept festival secrets and they’re all happening June – September 2018.
Dates running: Friday 22 June – Sunday 24 June 2018
A much-loved fancy ingredient, truffles have become popular in culinary circles around the country. If you’re keen to learn all about where these fungi morsels grow and how they end up on your plate, then the Truffle Kerfuffle is for you. Hunt for fresh truffles in Manjimup, about 90 minutes outside the Margaret River Region, meet the local growers and match a truffle-infused dish with a local vino while you’re at it.
Where to stay: For an authentic stay in this small country town, try Treenbrook Cottages in nearby Pemberton.
Don’t miss: Join local truffle experts the Booth Family, as well as their well-trained dogs, to learn all about the industry they’ve worked in for the last decade and how they’ve mastered the art of hunting this popular fare.
Dates running: Friday 8 June – Saturday 23 June 2018
Whether it’s a suave Māori quartet that takes your fancy, a circus full of self-proclaimed misfits who use mischief, humour and sequins to celebrate all things cabaret, or the sweet sounds of French jazz from the likes of Madeleine Peyroux, the Adelaide Cabaret Festival is a smorgasbord of talent, entertainment and whimsy. Oh là là!
Where to stay: The Stamford Plaza Adelaide is a central stay that will keep you close to all the action.
Don’t miss: Get into the Cabaret Festival spirit at The Wintergarden. This pop-up venue hosts free entertainment, hearty winter meals and mulled wine to warm yourself up with.
Dates running: Friday 29 June – Sunday 1 July 2018
It’s time to crank up the barbie and get ready to sizzle some snags, because Sydney is hosting a Beer & BBQ festival that is sure to get people fired up. The three-day event includes everything from TV chef masterclasses to demonstrations by American slow-cooking sensations, so you can up your barbequing and beer-drinking game. More than sixty brewers and cider distillers will also bring their own special flavours to the festival, with some of Australia’s finest brewers in the mix, too. Stretchy pants are a must this weekend. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Where to stay: Head to the Meriton Suites Waterloo for a bit of luxury to return to after a big day of BBQs and beers.
Don’t miss: What goes well with beers and BBQs? Well, beats, of course! Plenty of bands and musicians will be performing across two stages during the festival, including former Jebediah front man Kevin Mitchell’s alter ego, Bob Evans.
Dates running: Monday 13 August – Sunday 19 August 2018
If you’ve ever wanted to drink locally distilled whisky in a Tasmanian barn, this festival is for you. Tasting events, farm stays, distillery tours and whisky dinners are held throughout the week, making it a Tasmania festival to remember (or not, if you enjoy the whisky a little too much). Check out Saffire’s Whisky Business 2018, hosted by Aussie whisky legend Bill Lark, with special guest Ross Blainey, all the way from Balvenie Distillery in Scotland. The Scottish distillery celebrates its 125th anniversary this year.
Where to stay: For a stylish stay, head to Ibis Styles Hobart.
Don’t miss: Get to know the local distilleries with a tasting showcase of 20 Tasmanian craft brewers. The evening includes food, and bottles can be purchased direct from the makers themselves.
Destination: Gold Coast
Dates running: Friday 14 September – Sunday 23 September 2018
Sure, the beaches on the Gold Coast are gorgeous enough already, but thanks to the likes of the Swell Sculpture Festival and its artists, in September they will be even more alive with colour and activity. The 10-day festival showcases more than 50 artworks, creating a free outdoor art exhibition that attracts more than 275,000 visitors every year.
Where to stay: Keep close to the Gold Coast action by staying at Peppers Soul Surfers Paradise.
Don’t miss: Stick around for the guided twilight walks and hear about the sculptures directly from the artists who made them.
Dates running: Friday 28 September – Monday 1 October 2018
Good tunes, great beaches and a mild Queensland “winter” – does it get any better? If this sounds too good to be true, then a trip to the Caloundra Music Festival is in order. Known as the festival of sun, surf and soul, this family-friendly festival brings a whole host of artists to Caloundra’s shores, including Blue King Brown, the John Butler Trio, The Living End and The Temper Trap. This festival isn’t just for the adults, either – there’s the Funky Forest for kids of all ages, which includes face painting, African drumming workshops and yoga classes.
Where to stay: For a relaxed vibe close to the festival, try Rolling Surf Resort.
Don’t miss: Foodies will be happy to hear that Caloundra has taken festival food to the next level with loads of different options available.
Dates running: Friday 21 September – Sunday 23 September 2018
The Canberra Moon Festival is a celebration of Asian culture, with everything from dragon dancers to cosplay parties, and delicious food and drink stalls too. It’s also the very first multi-Asian festival event in Canberra and a family-friendly cultural melting pot.
Where to stay: Relax and recharge nearby at the Parklands Hotel & Apartments.
Don’t miss: Come for the food but stay for the talent show. Independent musicians, dancers and other creative types all compete in the FUNbulous Asian Talent Show.
8. Yulefest Blue Mountains, NSW
Destination: Blue Mountains
Dates running: Friday 1 June – Friday 31 August 2018
If only there was a way to combine the joy of Christmas with the cosiness of an Australian winter. Well, thanks to Yulefest in the Blue Mountains, you can! And, yes, it might even snow if you’re lucky. So, prepare the eggnog, put on that roast ham and get ready to welcome jolly ol’ Saint Nick in the middle of the year.
Where to stay: Lap up the luxury vibes at The Carrington Hotel in Katoomba.
Don’t miss: Don’t miss out on the decadent five-course Christmas feast hosted by the Wintergarden Restaurant at the Art Deco-inspired Hydro Majestic Hotel.