By Sarah Halfpenny
If you’re not planning an overseas trip this year, why not explore your own backyard? There’s a diverse range of fantastic festivals, exhibitions and events to discover all across New South Wales!
Tamworth Country Music Festival — Tamworth — 18–27 January
With over 2,800 shows from 700 artists running across 120 venues over ten big days, it’s no wonder this is Australia’s largest music festival. Over 70% of the events are free, complementing ticketed shows from stars like Keith Urban, John Williamson, Kasey Chambers, and The McClymonts.
The National 2019: New Australian Art — Art Gallery of NSW, Carriageworks, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia — from 30 March
Presenting the latest ideas and forms in contemporary Australian art, this large-scale exhibition is curated across three of Sydney’s premier cultural institutions.
Representing a mix of emerging, mid-career and established artists drawn from around the country and Australian artists practicing overseas, these new and commissioned works include painting, video, sculpture, installation, drawing and performance.
Bluesfest — Byron Bay — 18–22 April
Held annually on the Easter long weekend on 120 hectares at Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm, with camping for over 6,000 and over 100,000 attending the 5-day celebration, this is Australia’s premier contemporary Blues and Roots music festival.
2019 is its 30th anniversary, and they’ll showcase music from around the world, with festival favourites such as Jack Johnson, Paul Kelly, Hozier, Mavis Staples and George Clinton on the line-up, along with countless new performers.
Hunter Valley Wine and Food Festival — Hunter Valley — 1 May–30 June
Over the course of a leisurely two months, this annual event proudly puts on show the region’s diverse wine and food culture, with a series of themed activities.
Attendees can wine and dine with leading Hunter Valley winemakers and chefs, take part in an array of interactive classes to fine tune culinary skills, or simply curl up beside an open fire with a glass of premium Hunter Valley wine and a cheese plate.
Narooma Oyster Festival — Narooma — 4 May
This ‘one day only’ award-winning festival is held at the stunning Forster’s Bay in Narooma – one of the most beautiful locations on the NSW South Coast.
It’s a winning combination of a cosmopolitan quality food experience paired with excellent music, local art and culture, live entertainment, and the world’s best oysters! One for the seafood lovers out there!
Vivid Sydney — Various locations — May/June (dates TBC)Vivid Sydney is where art, technology and commerce intersect. The world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas will be back in 2019, though dates are yet to be released. Vivid Sydney runs for over 20 days and features many of the world’s most important creative industry forums, a mesmerising free public exhibition of outdoor lighting sculptures and installations, and a cutting-edge contemporary music program.
Sydney Film Festival — Various locations — 5–16 June
Taking over the city for 12 days and nights, film buffs will get to choose from more than 200 movies that aren’t normally found in mainstream cinemas. There’ll be inspiring and entertaining film premieres, talks and parties, and the opportunity to see the greatest, strangest and most exciting work that cinema has to offer, with 12 films selected for the official competition which celebrates “courageous, audacious and cutting edge cinema” and has a $60,000 cash prize.
Maitland Aroma Coffee & Chocolate Festival — Maitland — 10–11 August
Here’s a chance to ward off the winter chill with two of the finest things in life – coffee and chocolate!
With a range of activities including live cooking demonstrations from local chocolatiers and roasters from across the Hunter, you can sample products and enjoy the benefits of cold weather food and beverages, all based around two of the best beans on earth. Entry is free.
Tulip Time — Bowral — 24 September–7 October
Winner of the 2015 World Tulip Award, this is a sensory experience not to be missed! It’s a kaleidoscope of tulips carpeting public gardens and premier private gardens, with the centerpiece being the 75,000 mass-planted tulips nestled among blossoming mature trees in Corbett Gardens.
There’s also daily live music, market stalls and lots of colourful photo opportunities. And did you know the idea for the character of Mary Poppins originated in Bowral when the author, P L Travers, lived there during her teens? The 2019 Tulip Time event will be celebrating the 85 years since the first book was written.
Sculpture by the Sea — Bondi Beach — 24 October–10 November
Sculpture by the Sea transforms the spectacular 2km long Bondi Beach to Tamarama Beach coastal walk into the world’s largest free public sculpture exhibition. Over a three-week period, visitors can see 100 sculptures by artists from Australia and across the world.