In what seems like a very short amount of time Tasmania has built up an impressive summer calendar of major arts and music festivals due to the amazing work of local promoters and festival organisers. Tasmanians are no longer escaping interstate for summer festivals, rather, mainlanders are coming to check out what we’ve got to offer. Tasmanian festivals are relaxed and exotic, providing a fresh alternative to the stinking hot mess mainland music festivals tend to be.
Here is some of the standout art and music festivals happening this summer.
The Falls Music and Arts Festival – 29 December – 1 January
Welcoming in the New Year at Marion Bay since 2003, the three night long festival of arts, music and culture known as ‘Falls’ is the long standing, heavyweight of the Tasmanian festival calendar. Falls has become the primary channel for bringing major international artists to Tasmania with incredible acts such as Disclosure, Wavves, Foals, Bloc Party and The Wombats attending this year’s instalment. The festival is seen as somewhat of a rite of passage for Tasmanian youth, but is very accommodating for adults and young families with a broad range of entertainment (including a beach!), food and camping options.
Festable – 29 December – 1 January 2016
Festable offers a new and exciting northern alternative over the New Year’s period. It is similar to Falls being a three night music festival in a stunning, semi remote Tasmanian location. But there is definitely a relaxed, intimate feel and strong focus on local, grass roots arts and music. The Festable team are committed to an effective low cost, environmentally sustainable operation which keeps ticket prices low, and brings a diverse, peaceful crowd. Mandek Penha, The White Rose Project and Heart Beach along with a huge list of local and interstate acts will be making the trek up to Weegena this year, and with tickets just $50 for three nights, free byo and cheap food, this event is shaping up to be a very enticing new year’s option.
Cygnet Folk Festival – 8 – 10 January 2016
The Huon Valley town Cygnet known for its rolling green pastures, spectacular produce and fine arts and crafts transforms every January into a bustling epicentre of folk music during the Cygnet Folk Festival. The town’s pubs, halls, cafes, parks and streets become venues for celebrated folk performers creating a jolly atmosphere that encapsulates the entire town. The festival also hosts an impressive collection of food and market vendors and you are free to come and go as you please with major ticketed performances and free events scattered about the streets. However, keep in mind, those who stay and camp always seem to have the best time.
Basin Concert Series – 9 January 2016
Harnessing the power of the great Cataract Gorge’s natural amphitheatre is the annual Basin Concert. The 2016 concert will be headlined by late 90’s Aussie alt-rock icons Jebediah and The Beautiful Girls’ bringing their familiar brand of surf blues. The spectacular location of this mini festival is a real drawcard, with a giant lifeguarded pool on hand for that sweet relief from the hot, sweaty mosh. Tickets are $65 for general admission and $145 for VIP tickets.
Tasmanian Circus Festival – 15 – 17 January 2016
The Tasmanian Circus Festival is a showcase of the best in independent contemporary circus performance, featuring local, national and international circus artists. It is set in Swan Bay overlooking the iconic Tamar River just 20 minutes north of Launceston and is a family friendly, 3 day camping event that features a diverse range of circus performances that include aerials, equilibristics, manipulation, dance, acrobatics, comedy and music.
MONA FOMA – 13 – 18 January 2016
MONA’s two major art and music festivals MONA FOMA (MOFO) and Dark Mofo have become stand out national attractions. Since its inception, MOFO has never failed to be completely extravagant, bizarre and brilliant with 2016 promising to be no exception. Despite its inevitable unconventionality, the city wholeheartedly embraces the festival, with an aura of excitement and intrigue overcoming locals and tourists who flock to the endless list of exhibitions, performances and installations hosted by the festival. The 2016 festival sees a bit of a tweak in the format with the majority of events taking place on the grounds of MONA itself, with additional ferries and buses shooting people out to the museum at maximum efficiency. Among over 200 performers, stand outs this year include 90’s psych rock big guns The Flaming Lips, Kate Miller Hiedke with the TSO and Antonio Sanchez performing the soundtrack to the motion picture ‘Birdman’ live at the Odeon Theatre.
Party in the Paddock – 20 – 21 February 2016
Party in the Paddock is another young Tasmanian festival bringing major acts to Tasmania for a two night party spectacular. Party in the Paddock’s has made its home at Burns Creek, a picturesque, green valley flanking one of Tassie’s most prominent mountain ranges, about an hour west of Launceston. In 2016, the festival includes a long list of bands currently riding the wave at the top of the Australian music scene including Violent Soho, The Preatures and Tkay Maidza. Since its beginning in 2013 the festival has been warmly received and rapidly grown, with an atmosphere that’s widely recognised as far more laid back than similar events interstate. Tickets are going mighty fast for this one with only a small number of second round tickets still available. General Admission tickets are $145 and VIP tickets are $245.
A Festival Called Panama – 11 – 13 March 2016
A Festival Called Panama closes out the summer festival series, it is so deep into summer in fact that the elusive southern heat may have actually come and gone. Although I definitely wouldn’t let the weather gamble keep you away from this winner of a festival. Often described as a ‘boutique’ festival, Panama tends to mix things up from the traditional festival formula. Panama lives in a low capacity, remote forest venue that every year fills with local produce vendors, Tassie beer, cider and wine producers, market stalls, a clothing swap meet and some of the best bands and DJs available. This year Aussie blues badboy C.W. Stoneking and Afrobeat legend Seun Kuti heading his father’s infamous Egypt 80 will headline the exclusive A Festival Called Panama. Tickets for this festival will no doubt be the trickiest to obtain with only 1 250 on sale and preference going to previous attendees and mailing list subscribers. Visit the website for more ticket pricing information.
Article first published: 8 December 2015
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