8 fun-filled festivals in New South Wales you need to experience

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We might be entering the winter months, but there are still plenty of great reasons to head outside and experience some of the best festivals and events in New South Wales.

Whether it’s having a laugh at the Sydney Comedy Festival, getting swept away by the melodies at the Byron Bay Bluesfest, making Snowmen in the Hunter Valley Gardens, or simply enjoying some local produce on the beach at Manly – these 8 festivals offer something for everyone.

April festivals

Sydney Comedy Festival

Now in its 13th year, the Sydney Comedy Festival features a host of established and upcoming Australian and international comedians. UK comedian Jonathan Pie, improvisation wizard Ross Noble and US funny man Tom Segura all headlining the festival this year.

The majority of the shows happen across comedy clubs and mid-sized venues around Sydney. This year’s festival will see performances at the Enmore Theatre, Sydney Opera House, The Factory Theatre, Bondi Pavilion Theatre, Parade Theatres, The Hayden Orpheum, Riverside Theatre, Sutherland Entertainment Centre and many more. Tickets to the shows often sell out, so be quick to get the best seats.

  • Where: Sydney Comedy Festival (various locations in metropolitan Sydney)
  • Dates: April 23 – 20 May
  • Getting there: Use Trip Planner to find public transport options near your chosen venue.
  • More info: sydneycomedyfest.com.au/locations

Bluesfest Byron Bay

Now in its 28th year, the ever-popular Bluesfest Byron Bay has become an annual event drawing in thousands of tourists and locals alike. This year will see 200 performances across 5 stages spread over 5 jam-packed days.

This year’s lineup includes Ms. Lauryn Hill, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters, John Butler Trio and Sheryl Crow.

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You can either buy a day pass or camp at the venue. There are also over 100 independent market stalls and artisan food outlets to keep you entertained between shows. Dotted around the festival you’ll find undercover food courts, spacious beer gardens, plenty of entertainment and face painting for the kids.

  • Where: Bluesfest Byron Bay
  • Dates: Thursday 29 March – Monday 2 April
  • Getting there: With an extensive network of trains and coaches, using a CountryLink service is the best way to get to the Byron Bay Bluesfest via public transport. Plan your trip here
  • More info: bluesfest.com.au

Orange F.O.O.D (Food Of Orange District)

The Orange F.O.O.D Week is Australia’s longest running food festival (now in its 27th year). This gourmet festival is designed to showcase the region’s diverse range of food producers, wineries, restaurants, chefs and venues, bringing thousands of foodies from around New South Wales.

To celebrate, there’s a special F.O.O.D. Train that departs from Sydney Central Station direct to Orange. You’ll be served a light breakfast onboard and then once you arrive, will be taken on a tour to savour the best food in the district. Places are extremely limited, so be quick to book your seat. 

Check out the night market on April 6, where you can dine under the stars and listen to local musicians while tucking into some delicious dishes.

  • Where: Orange
  • Dates: 6 – 15 April
  • Getting there: From Central Station take NSW TrainLink Western NSW 427 service on Platform 6 direct to Orange Station. Travel time is 4 hours 50 minutes.
  • More info: orangefoodweek.com.au

Sculpture at Scenic World

Tucked away in the Blue Mountains, Katoomba Scenic World is a popular tourist attraction. Visitors can experience being suspended 270m above ravines while travelling across the scenic skyway or ride the steepest passenger railway in the world with its 52° incline.

But from April to May there’s an added incentive to visit, during these months the natural Jurassic rainforest becomes home to a unique collection of sculptures and artworks.

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Spread across 5 weekends, the festival features 38 stunning artworks. Many are out in the open, others can only be discovered with a little bit of exploring…

  • Where: Katoomba Scenic World – Violet St & Cliff Drive, Katoomba
  • Dates: 13 April – 13 May
  • Getting there:  From Central Station take the Blue Mountains Line for a 2 hour journey to Katoomba Station. Once you arrive at the station take a 5 minute walk to the Carrington Hotel. You can get to Scenic World on the 686 public bus out the front of The Carrington or on the Explorer Bus. Explorer Bus tickets can be purchased next to Katoomba train station.
  • More info: sculptureatscenicworld.com.au

May festivals

VIVID Festival

The VIVID Festival is a kaleidoscope of colours, sounds and visuals designed to capture your imagination and transform Sydney into a glowing hub of movement and energy.

Not only does Sydney become illuminated with creativity from the world’s leading imagineers, there are ground-breaking musical acts to see and innovative talks to take in.

Vivid Music will see performances from Ice Cube, Cat Power , Iron & Wine, Solange, St. Vincent as well as local artists Daniel Johns & Luke Steele.

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Plus there’s a host of unique Vivid events and artworks taking place at Circular Quay, Barangaroo, Kings Cross, Taronga Zoo, The Rocks, Darling Harbour, Chatswood and the Royal Botanic Garden during the festival period which runs from May 25 until June 16.

With so much to see, experience and enjoy Vivid 2018 has something for everyone.

  • Where: Various locations around Sydney Metropolitan area
  • Dates: May 25 – June 16
  • Getting there: Plan your trip using Trip Planner
  • More info: vividsydney.com

Narooma Oyster Festival

Narooma is the heart of the NSW oyster coast, so what better place to celebrate the nation’s love of seafood?

The festival will feature premium oysters from 8 south coast estuaries. It’s all topped off with a selection of exceptional organic produce and locally produced wines. There’ll be cooking demonstrations, free music, wine and beer tasting plus classes on how to cook and shuck oysters.

  • Where: Narooma Oyster Festival
  • Dates: Saturday May 4
  • Getting there: From Bomaderry Station take bus route 700-1 Bomaderry to Eden for 23 stops. You’ll arrive in Narooma. Travel time is approximately 3 hours 40 minutes. Please note you’ll need to book in advance.
  • More info: narooma.org.au

June festivals

Taste of Manly Festival

Now entering its 32nd year, the Taste of Manly brings together some of the finest dishes and local producers from Manly’s vibrant food scene for a 2 day celebration.

Around 76,000 food and wine enthusiasts attend the 2 day event each year.

With Manly’s deep blue waves as the backdrop and the best home-grown produce on offer, it’s the perfect day out for foodies and beach lovers alike.

  • Where: Manly Corso
  • Dates: Saturday 26 –  Sunday 27 May
  • Getting there: If you’re coming from the city, catch the Manly Ferry from Circular Quay for 41 minutes. Then walk 2 minutes to the Corso.
  • More info: https://www.northernbeaches.nsw.gov.au

Snow Time in the Garden

From June 30 through to July 22, the Hunter Valley Gardens are transformed into a winter wonderland. Snow Time in the Garden is a fantastic day out for all ages.

There’s a giant ice skating rink, a huge ice toboggan, fairground rides, plenty of hot food and even a snow play zone for the little ones – perfect for building snowmen of all shapes and sizes.

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  • Where: Hunter Valley Gardens,  2090 Broke Rd, Pokolbin
  • Dates: 30 June – 22 July
  • Getting there: From Greta Station take an 18 minute cab ride (16.2km) direct to the Hunter Valley Gardens
  • More info: huntervalleygardens.com.au/snow-time


Our Trip Planner can show you the fastest routes and public transport options to get to each event. Plus there’s also a range of handy travel apps to help you plan on the go.

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