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The Best Australian Summer Music Festivals in 2023

Summer in Australia is the season of live music. 

With predictably beautiful, sunny weather across the country, it’s the best time of year to enjoy outdoor music festivals (we’re side-eyeing you, winter events, with your rain and mud). Here’s what you need to know about heading to one of these festivals, and which ones we recommend checking out.

Our top 10 tips for summer festival attendees

Music festivals around the world can operate quite differently. In Australia, there is a big focus on safety and security. So, if it’s your first time attending a music festival as an international student, you can be assured that there is always help and support on hand, as well as plenty of free amenities.

In between dancing our hearts out under rainbow lights at the Jamie xx set and yelling the lyrics to ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ with hoards of Arctic Monkeys fans at Heaps Good in Adelaide – a great example of the perfect summer festival in Australia – we managed to refine 10 tips to ensure you have a brilliant live music experience.

1. Prepare in advance

Once you have your tickets secured, consider how you’re going to get to and from the festival. For city-based events, like Heaps Good, it was as easy as jumping on public transport. If the festival is further out, see if the organisers offer transportation, or if you and your friends can organise a minibus or a ride from a designated driver.

2. Plan your day

Festivals in Australia will almost always publish their set times in advance. For Heaps Good, these were available a month in advance, meaning we were able to coordinate a timetable of which shows we wanted to see.

When packing for the day, you will want to check out what you can and can’t bring onto the festival grounds, and whether there are size restrictions on bags.

3. Organise a meeting point

Phone service can be unpredictable at festivals. Once you’ve arrived with your friends, look for a central meeting point where you can congregate if you happen to get separated and can’t reach each other by phone.

4. Look for free amenities or giveaways

From water and sunscreen to makeup samples and snacks, music festivals in Australia will offer a range of free amenities or giveaways. As well as plentiful free water at Heaps Good, we also had the opportunity to take photos on the iconic McDonald’s swings for a free McFlurry!

5. Be sun safe

Summer in Australia is hot. While the clear, blue skies make for incredible photos, you also need to make sure you’re being sun safe. This includes using and reapplying sunscreen throughout the day and covering your skin wherever possible.

6. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Free water is a necessity at any festival in Australia. You’re encouraged to bring your own empty water bottle to fill up from communal tanks during the day.

7. Take breaks

In between all the singing and dancing, take time to catch your breath. Many festivals, like Heaps Good, will offer nice, shaded areas to sit down, have a drink or snack, and chat with your friends before the next act.

8. Buy merch

Not only a great souvenir of the event, purchasing merchandise is a great way to support the musicians you’re seeing. At Heaps Good, there were plenty of on-trend corduroy caps available, so you could represent your favourite band while keeping the sun off your face.

9. Check out the afterparties

Don’t let the day come to an end too early! Festivals will often offer official afterparties at nearby venues so you can keep the festivities going. Sometimes, secret guests from the festival lineup might even make an appearance.

10. Enjoy yourself!

Everyone enjoys festivals in different ways. Some are solely focused on seeing musicians they love, while others might be on the hunt for new artists to support. You might just go for the excitement of the festival and the opportunity to spend time with friends. Whatever your festival-going style, make sure to soak up the atmosphere, take lots of photos, and be respectful of other attendees and staff.

The top 6 summer music festivals to check out

1. Heaps Good 

There’s literally something for everyone at Heaps Good. Whether you’re an EDM fanatic or prefer 2000s indie rock, every genre was accounted for, making the Heaps Good crowd an incredibly diverse, friendly group, coming together for the love of music. Although the 2023 festival has wrapped up, follow them on social media for updates on the 2024 event – you won’t want to miss it.

2. St Jerome’s Laneway Festival

With humble beginnings in Melbourne almost 20 years ago, Laneway is a predominantly indie music event. Featuring international artists including Phoebe Bridgers, Haim and Joji, Laneway is coming to Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney between 29 January and 12 February 2023.

3. St Kilda Festival

It’s free, fabulous and on the beach. What more could you ask for from a summer festival? Head down to the St Kilda foreshore on 18 and 19 February for a weekend of music. 

4. WOMADelaide

WOMADelaide – World of Music Arts & Dance – is a celebration of world music. Although technically falling in early autumn (10 to 13 March), you’re still guaranteed sunny, warm days at WOMAD. Headlined by Florence + The Machine and Bon Iver in 2023, this is one of the most relaxing festivals you’ll ever attend.

5. Golden Plains

A 3-day camping and music fest held in rural Victoria, Golden Plains is famous for good vibes, smiling faces and an eclectic lineup of acts from international superstar Carly Rae Jepsen to local favourite Methyl Ethel. The event runs from 11 to 13 March and although it is sold out, you can sign up for the waitlist.

6. Pitch Music & Arts

Held on the foothills of the iconic Grampian Plains between 10 and 14 March, Pitch focuses on creativity, self-expression and inclusion. This is a good pick for electronic music fans.

*Photo credit: Dylan Minchenberg