4 of Australia’s best summer festivals 2020
Four of our favourite Australian summer festivals in 2020.
There’s a music festival to suit everyone’s tastes in Australia: especially when summer rolls around. In fact there are so many great event on offer, we found it too difficult to pick the best on our own. Instead, we’ve turned this one over to the experts: here, four of our favourite artists share their top Aussie summer festival experiences.
1. Woodford Folk Festival
Chosen by: Ainslie Wills, singer-songwriter
Woodford Folk Festival 2020 (courtesy Woodford Folk Festival).
It was 2017 when the dulcet tones of singer-songwriter Ainslie Wills first wowed Woodford Folk Festival audiences, but the Melbourne-based performer’s heart had been set on performing here for some time.
“It was a festival I had admired from afar,” Wills says of the Queensland event held annually over six days around New Year’s Eve, which is taking place for the 34th time this year. “The first time I went, I remember it feeling like the size of a small village. It has a bit of a carnival vibe: lots of people everywhere, kids in little trolley carriers, food stalls, lots of different stages, lots of colour, atmosphere and a sense of community.”
This music and arts festival, underpinned by humanitarian and environmental passions, is highly diverse, often boasting a bill of more than 2000 performers and 400 events. “Woodford is a well-oiled machine,” Wills says. “It’s been running for so many years and has built such a great community of people that are dedicated to making it a great time for all involved.”
Insider tip: “The festival isn’t just about music; there are writers’ panels, films, circus performers, art and crafts and so much more. The festival can be both relaxing and exciting - there are plenty of lanes to choose. You can plan your activities or explore and be surprised by what you discover around every corner.”
27 December 2019 – 1 January 2020
2. So Frenchy So Chic
Chosen by: Marc Collin, musician
So Frenchy So Chic (courtesy SFSC).
“Maybe we can say we are kind of godfathers of the festival,” smiles Marc Collin of French group Nouvelle Vague, as he fondly muses on So Frenchy So Chic. “I’ve got good memories of [Werribee Park] near Melbourne, laying in the grass with a glass of white wine.”
This January, the festival, held in Melbourne and Sydney, will host the band for the third time. However, Nouvelle Vague’s history with the French event goes back many years. Originally a record label (Cartell Music) that distributed world music and brought many acts – including Nouvelle Vague, Lou Doillon and Camille – Down Under, SFSC is a single-day boutique garden party of picnics, French fare, champagne, cocktails, barefoot dancing on the grass and, of course, joie de vivre.
“It is a great opportunity to discover a bit of French culture,” Collin says, of the festival that has garnered a following for its choice of Gallic musicians and Instagram-ready experience. “They always select the best French acts: last time, we shared the stage with The Limiñanas and Bertrand Belin, who became huge after. It's also a good way to try French food specialities and, of course, our best wines.”
Insider tip: “It’s our 15th anniversary tour, and, as I said, we are old friends of the festival, so we'll prepare something special. Get ready!”
12 January 2020 (Melbourne) and 18 January 2020 (Sydney)
3. Mona Foma
Chosen by: Robin Fox, artist
The sister festival to Tasmania’s runaway success story Dark Mofo, Mona Foma is a blur of creativity, music and high-octane fuel for the curious. “What makes MF special is the amazing relationship of trust that it has built with its audience,” says light and sound artist Robin Fox.
Fox has participated in every Mona Foma to date and says that MF will delight, surprise and shock. “The curatorial team programs a really wide range of music and art so you will see both the familiar and the unfamiliar.”
Fox’s mesmerising installations of laser beams, light works and musical accompaniments are just the tip of the iceberg awaiting lucky visitors who make the January trip to Launceston. “Somehow, MF has managed to create an atmosphere of open curiosity. I think that is so vital. People should be open to new inputs and influences; we need to fight off the commodification of taste.”
Insider tip: “See everything, or at least as much as you can. Allow yourself to be surprised and inspired … there will be a lot happening outside the festival hub so don’t confine yourself to the main stages. Make sure you visit Cataract Gorge and take a swim. Launceston really is a beautiful town.”
17–19 January 2020
4. St Jerome’s Laneway Festival
Chosen by: Georgia Flipo, singer-songwriter
St Jerome’s Laneway Festival (courtesy St Jerome’s Laneway Festival)
Melbourne’s Georgia Flipo, also known as G Flip, attended St Jerome’s Laneway Festival (‘Laneway’) for years as a punter. It was only in 2014 she was bursting to see Haim, she says – yet five years later she was on the stage herself, in her a festival tour that would lead to her performing at the likes of Falls Festival, Splendour in the Grass and Lollapalooza.
“Laneway is a really well-rounded music festival,” Flipo says. “The line-up includes a diverse range of artists from all over the world who play a variety of music.”
Flipo isn’t the only rising star to have been plucked from obscurity and put on stage: the festival as a reputation for snapping up acts on the cusp of celebrity status, among them Flume and Tame Impala. “They seem to pick a lot of up-and-coming artists,” Flipo agrees. “That support means the world when you’re starting out! January-February is the perfect time to be in the outdoors listening to sweet music, and anyone 16-plus is welcome [in Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide]. It is awesome and somewhat rare to allow younger music lovers to attend and support their favourite musicians.”
Insider tip: “At the main stages you’re guaranteed to see some top-notch acts. However, hit the smaller stages for some rare finds and more intimate sets. Also, talk to people, make a new friend. You never know; you might even fall in love.”
27 January (Auckland), 1 February (Brisbane), 2 February (Sydney), 7 February (Adelaide), 8 February (Melbourne) and 9 February (Fremantle) 2020
Words by Noelle Faulkner; images supplied