Melbourne Summer Festival Guide

Slap on the sunscreen and raise a plastic cup to the festival season
Peking Duk at the Australian Open Sessions
Photograph: Mark Avellino/Tennis Australia
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Soak up the summer months at some of Melbourne's most exciting and diverse music and arts festivals. You don't have to travel hours into the countryside to get the full festival experience; Melbourne's thriving live music scene means that the city is full of events packed with local bands and international talent plus art, food and entertainment. 

 

The best summer festivals

1
Crowd shot at Meredith Music Festival
Photograph: Supplied
Music, Music festivals

Meredith Music Festival

icon-location-pin Meredith Supernatural Amphitheatre, Meredith
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What is it: A three-day celebration of music, nature and all things weird and wonderful set on a farm.

Go if you like: The freedom do what you like at a music festival, so long as you're kind and considerate: Meredith has a strict 'no dickheads' policy.

The line-up: Topping the bill this year are American alt-rockers the Breeders; newly local legend Sampa the Great; the soundtrack to every club in the mid-2000s, ie the Presets; the very nostalgic Billy Bragg; and Mental as Anything

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Crowds gathering by the stage at Werribee Park
Music, Music festivals

Let Them Eat Cake

icon-location-pin Werribee Park, Werribee South
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What is it: A New Year's Day kick-on at the soothing gardens surrounding Werribee Mansion.

Go if you like: Dancing to a cracking selection of international DJs, playing everything from techno to disco.

The line-up: The 2019 line-up brings UK, US and European artists into the mix, with performances from Bicep, Motor City Drum EnsembleAma Lou, CC:Disco!, Chaos In The CBDDJ Boring, DJ Tennis, Esther Silex, Flava DJoe Kay, Kahn and Neek, Midland, Moxie, Nightmares on Wax (DJ set), Opiuo and Peggy Gou

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The Pleasure Garden
Photograph: Supplied
Music, Music festivals

The Pleasure Garden

icon-location-pin Catani Gardens, St Kilda West
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What is it: A one-day boutique festival, blooming for its second year at St Kilda's Catani Gardens in December.

Go if you like: Not needing to leave the city for an immersive, relaxed experience that won't tire you out by the end of the day.

The line-up: Topping the bill this year is Sampa the Great, the lyrically brilliant rapper and musician whose work defies genres. Punters will also be keen to hear the party-drum beats of Spoonbill and the reggae-leaning R'n'B of Katchafire

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Falls Festival
Photograph: Joseph Mayers
Music, Music festivals

Falls Festival

icon-location-pin Falls Festival grounds, Lorne
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What is it: A New Year's Eve party with a killer line-up, arty vibes and lush surrounds.

Go if you like:  Escaping the heat at New Year's Eve – the Falls Festival line-up is cool, but the weather is often cooler.

The line-up: This year partiers at Falls Festival will be ringing in the new year with none other than 1980s rockers Toto. They'll be playing alongside the likes of Vance Joy, InterpolFlight FacilitiesChvrches and Anderson Paak and the Free Nationals. Powerhouse ladies on the list include Amy SharkFirst Aid Kit (in their only Australian show), MallratJack RiverTkay Maidza and Odette

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5
Beyond the Valley festival
Music, Music festivals

Beyond the Valley

icon-location-pin Lardner Park,
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What is it: A medium-sized New Year's Eve festival in the countryside with a line-up that punches way above its weight.

Go if you like: Seeing some of the world's hottest musical acts in a festival that isn't overwhelmingly huge.

The line-up: Headlining will be none other than the Kooks. They'll be joined by much-loved Aussie dance duo Pnau, as well as the multi-talented Tash Sultana, American rapper Joey Bada$$, ethereal British DJ Bonobo, festival favourites the Jungle Giants and Melbourne's own Alex Lahey.  

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NYE on the Hill
Photograph: Supplied
Music, Music festivals

NYE on the Hill

icon-location-pin The Hill on The Farm,
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What is it: Unlike behemoth New Year's Eve celebrations, this is a chilled-out weekend in the rolling hills of South Gippsland with a capacity of just 2,700.

Go if you like: Being surrounded by beautiful scenery as you take in some of Melbourne's brightest talents – all at your own pace.

The line-up: Boogie down with the Smith Street Band, the Kite String Tangle, Sampa the Great, Last Dinosaurs, Art VS Science and more. Plus NYE on the Hill lets you BYO (no glass please).

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7
Freedom Time Winter Festival
Music, Music festivals

Freedom Time

icon-location-pin Coburg Velodrome, Coburg North
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What is it: A New Year's Day kick-on with multiple stages and some great dance tunes. 

Go if you like: Shaking off your hangover without having to trek too far from the CBD.

The line-up:  Headliners include Hiatus Kaiyote, post-punk locals HTRK, wunderkind rapper Kaiit, the rhythmic Senegambian Jazz Band, Sydney duo Angophora and disco divas (and Freedom Time co-creators) Wax'o Paradiso.  

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So Frenchy So Chic
Photograph: Simon Shiff
Music, Music festivals

So Frenchy So Chic

icon-location-pin Werribee Park, Werribee South
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What is it: A French-inspired music festival and picnic in the park.

Go if you like: Eating cheese, drinking wine, wearing Breton stripes while listening to French musicians.

The line-up:  Girls to the front! So French So Chic features a completely lady-powered line-up for 2019. On stage, you’ll hear Camille Dalmais (maybe you've hear her 2006 Triple J hit 'Ta Douleur'). She’ll be joined by the electro-pop band Yelle and Clara Luciani plus new talent Cléa Vincent.

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The Jacksons
Photograph: Supplied
Music, Funk, soul and disco

The Summer Series

icon-location-pin Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne
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What is it: A new one-day festival bringing some of the 20th century's best musicians to Melbourne.

Go if you like: Strolling down memory lane and letting loose to classic hits. 

The line-up: Music icons the Jacksons will be heading down under alongside party startes Kool and the Gang, the Pointer Sisters, the Village People aand Sister Sledge.

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Crowds at Laneway Festival
Photograph: Tim Da Rin
Music, Music festivals

Laneway Festival

icon-location-pin Footscray Park, Footscray
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What is it: A one-day festival known for bringing out some of the hottest new acts alongside local talents. For many years Laneway resided at Footscray Community Arts Centre but will for the first time move to Footscray Park.

Go if you like: Getting more closely acquainted with artists you've only just discovered.

The line-up: Alongside talented bilingual rapper Baker Boy and northside Courtney Barnett, Laneway Festival 2019 will also see the super hot Gang of Youths plus Camp CopeMethyl EthelMiddle KidsWhat So NotMitskiJorja SmithRuby Fields, and more hit Melbourne on Saturday, February 9. 

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11
St Kilda Festival
Photograph: Supplied
Music, Music festivals

St Kilda Festival

icon-location-pin St Kilda Foreshore, St Kilda
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What is it: A free(!) celebration of Aussie talent on the foreshore of St Kilda beach. 

Go if you like: Not having to pay to see some of your favourite local artists, then partying the night away in the buzzing streets of St Kilda. 

The line-up: The line-up for this huge beachside festival is yet to be announced, so stay tuned for updates. Alongside the music are carnival rides, market stalls and food trucks.

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Australian Open AO Live Stage
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Music, Music festivals

AO Live Stage

icon-location-pin Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne
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What is it: Fifteen days of live music on the banks of the Yarra River in the heart of the Australian Open precinct. 

Go if you like: Being in the centre of the action. The Australian Open's entertainment precinct is buzzing in January with sports-lovers, food pop-ups and a massive line-up of daily live music from stellar Aussie bands.

The line-up: The line-up for 2019 is yet to be released, but past artists have included Peking Duk, The Living End, The Temper Trap, Missy Higgins and Birds of Tokyo. On Sunday, January 13 there will be a free concert with mental health organisation Beyondblue.

Make the most of summer

Zoo Twilights
Photograph: Ian Laidlaw
Things to do

20 things to do this summer in Melbourne for guaranteed good times

Once again, Australia’s cultural capital delivers a stellar city-wide line-up this summer. From live music at the zoo to late night art and sound installations across the city, there’s plenty to explore. For more fun in the sun, see our lists of the best rooftop bars in Melbourne and outdoor cinemas – and when it's seriously boiling, go for a swim in one of these beaches, pools or lakes.

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