There are no shortage of exciting cultural events in Australia and New Zealand to plan your next vacation around. From music festivals to food and wine events to hot air balloon celebrations, there is an experience for everyone.
With Trafalgar, we offer several tours across Australasia in which you will have free time to explore and check out some of the incredible cultural events in Australia and New Zealand. Keep reading to discover 10 not-to-miss experiences.
Every year in May/June, Sydney is transformed into an epic outdoor art gallery and festival for Vivid Sydney. As part of the event you can expect art installations, sculptures, musical performances at the Opera House, talks and more.
EXPERIENCE THIS ON: Australia Highlights
Queenstown Winter Festival
Queenstown rings in winter the right way with their annual Winter Festival. The 10-day event has all of the regular festivities like live music, comedy shows, parties and fireworks, but they also put their own Kiwi spin on things with special events including polar bear lake plunging.
EXPERIENCE THIS ON: Contrasts of Australia and New Zealand
Byron Bay Bluesfest
One of the biggest cultural events in Australia that’s worth checking out is the Byron Bay Bluefest. The five-day event, which happens annually over Easter weekend, attracts some of the biggest names in jazz from around the world. More than just music, the event also brings in buskers, food vendors and Indigenous artisans.
April 25 is remembrance day for Australia and New Zealand. This day commemorates the first military action in World War I for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC). The day is spent remembering and honouring those who served the country through church services and ceremonies.
Balloons over Waikato
This colourful cultural event in New Zealand is one to watch out for. Since 1999, New Zealanders fill the sky with hot air balloons while hundreds of spectators gather to witness the incredible sight. The five-day affair happens in March and always ends with a fireworks show.
Calling all Hobbit fans! September 22 is International Hobbit Day and there’s no better place to celebrate it than Hobbiton. On this day, the Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata hosts all sorts of festivities to commemorate the occassion, from tours of the set to setting up a food market offering traditional “Hobbit fare”.
RELATED CONTENT: 11 iconic experiences you can only do in Australia and New Zealand
Melbourne Food and Wine Festival
If you’re planning a trip to Melbourne in March, don’t miss this major gastronomic event. It’s one of Australia’s biggest food and wine festivals and showcases some of the best wineries and eateries in the nation. It’s a great way to enjoy local food and drinks and mix and mingle with locals.
EXPERIENCE THIS ON: Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road
Adelaide Fringe Festival
The Adelaide Fringe Festival is one of the largest cultural events in Australia and one of the biggest fringe festivals in the world. Since 1960, this month-long spectacle brings together a mix of vibrant performances including comedy, theatre, music, circus, cabaret and more. If you find yourself in South Australia in February or March, be sure to check Adelaide Fringe out!
RELATED CONTENT: Where to go to experience the best of Victoria and South Australia
In June, New Zealand celebrates Matariki, Māori New Year. The nation-wide celebration sees a host of events across the country to celebrate the people of New Zealand. If you’re in New Zealand during Matariki, expect to see exhibitions showcasing Māori artisans, haka performances, light shows and more.
RELATED CONTENT: 7 of the best books about New Zealand to read before you visit
Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras is Sydney’s LGBTQ+ pride festival and parade, which happens annually at the end of February and in early March. It’s one of Sydney’s biggest events and it attracts people from the LGBTQ+ community from around the world.
Are you interesting in checking out any of these cultural events in Australia or New Zealand? Let us know in the comments.