From Byron Bluesfest to the F1 Grand Prix, the Biennale of Sydney to Fremantle Street Arts Festival, March is packed with things to do. Add these to your calendar, stat.
By Chris Ryan and Robert Badman
New South Wales
Turandot on Sydney Harbour
Football fans had a taste of this Puccini opera when Pavarotti belted out Nessun Dorma at the Italia ’90 World Cup. As moving as that was, the production on Sydney Harbour will make it look like a ho-hum affair. Take the backdrop of the Opera House, add fireworks and a few glasses of Champagne and even the greatest cynic will be won over by this night at the opera.
WHERE Mrs Macquaries Point
WHEN March 24-April 24
Byron Bay Bluesfest
This much-loved festival may look through a generously wide selection window for blues and roots music but with the likes of Beach Boys maestro Brian Wilson and knickers-dodging Tom Jones on the bill, it’s hardly worth a quibble. More than 200 big acts are lined up, including LA hip-hop star Kendrick Lamar, reggae royalty The Wailers and local legend Archie Roach.
WHERE Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm
WHEN March 24-28
Taste of Sydney
One of the main problems with Sydney’s dining scene is deciding where to book a table. That dilemma will be made a little less troublesome after a visit to Taste of Sydney, where the city’s best restaurants are serving meals in one location. Loosen your belt and leave the calorie counter at home – there’ll be about 60 tasting dishes to tempt you.
WHERE Centennial Park, Sydney
WHEN March 10-13
Sydney Royal Easter Show ￼
Each year close to 900,000 people roll through the turnstiles at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, the festival where the country comes to the city. You’ll have to battle the crowds but it’s a fantastic family day out that offers something for everyone. Where else can you get your fill of corn dogs, dog shows and showjumping, all in one day?
WHERE Sydney Olympic Park
WHEN March 17-30
Biennale of Sydney
Australia’s biggest contemporary visual arts festival is back for the 20th time with three months of eclectic creativity at several large and small “embassies of thought” (venues, to the less enlightened). Acclaimed German-born arts curator Stephanie Rosenthal takes the reins and has themed the highly anticipated event “The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.”
WHERE Various locations
WHEN March 18-June 5
Australian Capital Territory
Think the national capital is dull? Visit during the nine-day-long Enlighten festival and discover a brightly lit wonderland. There are free activities and entertainment at The Electric Garden inside the Parliamentary Triangle, where light projections turn historic buildings into colourful canvases. Ticketed events include live performances and exclusive dining experiences.
WHEN March 4-12
Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix
One of the world’s premier motor races fires up again for four days of fuel-injected fun. While the intense rivalry of the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel will keep eyes of rusted-on fans glued to the main track, there’s plenty more on offer, including free events for kids and the first-ever Australian Freestyle Motocross Grand Prix.
WHERE Albert Park, Melbourne
WHEN March 17-20
Melbourne International Comedy Festival
The MICF, now in its 30th year, is one of the world’s biggest comedy festivals. International acts include Ross Noble, Rich Hall and Arj Barker. If you prefer your laughs locally grown, chances are your favourite Aussie comic will be there. Wil Anderson, Dave Hughes and Judith Lucy are just a few of the big names putting on shows.
WHERE Various locations
WHEN March 23-April 17
Lorne Sculpture Biennale
Thirty-six large-scale sculptures turn Lorne’s foreshore into an outdoor gallery. The work leans towards bizarre rather than beautiful – there’s a Stonehenge replica made of fridges, melted surfboards and a supersized machine gun – but it can never be said that the sculptures are boring. In all, more than 100 artists will have their work on display.
WHERE Lorne foreshore
WHEN March 12-April 3
“Faster, louder, deeper” – that’s the Australian Ballet’s pitch for this triple bill. Muscle-stretching, too, no doubt. Three of the world’s top choreographers – Christopher Wheeldon, Jiří Kylián and William Forsythe – will direct, respectively, what promise to be thrilling performances of contemporary ballets DGV, Forgotten Land and In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated.
WHERE Arts Centre Melbourne
WHEN March 11-21
Jurassic World: The Exhibition
With lifelike dinosaurs created by Creature Technology Company (the team behind Walking with Dinosaurs and the stage show King Kong) and supported by Universal Studios, this exhibition is as close as you’ll get to a T. Rex without jumping in a DeLorean, firing up the flux capacitor and racing 68 million years into the past.
WHERE Melbourne Museum
WHEN March 19-October 9
A Clipsal 500 title is one thing missing from the decorated career of reigning V8 Supercars champ Mark Winterbottom and his rivals will hope it stays that way. This is Australia’s biggest domestic motor race, attracting 285,000 fans last year. Expect the on- and off-track action (Icehouse and American singer Rob Thomas are among the music acts) to come thick and fast.
WHEN March 3-6
Gold Coast Film Festival
More than 70 films and film- related events across nine venues are set to pull punters away from the Goldie’s surf and sun for 11 culture-soaked days. Highlights of the film program include Aussie flicks Observance – a horror/thriller – and the Stephen Page-directed Spear, while SIPFest (Shorts in Paradise) is a popular short-film event held on Surfers Paradise Beach.
WHERE Various locations
WHEN March 31-April 10
World Science Festival
Why does toast fall butter-side down? Why doesn’t glue stick to the inside of the bottle? Rest assured that more important questions than these will be asked and answered at this week-long exploration of all things scientific, when Brisbane becomes just the second city, after New York, to host this prestigious festival. Don’t miss Great Moments in Science with Dr Karl.
WHERE Various locations, Brisbane
WHEN March 9-13
Fremantle Street Arts Festival
Contortionists, comedians, cabaret acts: this festival has a range of performers with one thing in common – they make the streets their stage. Artists travel from around the globe to throw down their hat and perform for passing crowds. The best thing about it? You get world-class acts without needing a ticket. ￼
WHERE Throughout Fremantle
WHEN March 26-28