15 Events to Add to Your Calendar this October


A host of exciting cultural and sporting events are taking place in Australia this month – from the Melbourne Festival to Sydney's world-famous Sculpture by the Sea. Here are our top 15.


Melbourne Festival

The Melbourne Festival, now in its 30th year, features eight world and 17 Australian premieres. One of the hottest tickets is Desdemona, a play written by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison. The work reimagines Shakespeare’s Othello from Desdemona’s perspective and features music by Malian singer Rokia Traoré, who also plays Barbary, Desdemona’s maid.

WHERE Various locations
WHEN October 8-25

Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix

The world’s best riders, including Marc Márquez and Valentino Rossi, converge on Phillip Island for Australia’s MotoGP. There’s off-track entertainment, too, with RAAF aerobatic team the Roulettes performing and bands playing thoughout the evening. Once the races are done, catch a more sedate procession with the sunset fairy penguin parade.

WHERE Phillip Island
WHEN October 16-18

Caulfield Cup Carnival

Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival shifts up a gear as the Caulfield Cup Carnival takes place ahead of November’s nation-stopping Melbourne Cup. Festivities kick off on October 10 with Caulfield Guineas Day, while the world’s richest handicap race on turf over 2400 metres – the $3 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup – is on the final day of the carnival.

WHERE Caulfield Racecourse
WHEN October 10, 14 and 17

New South Wales

Sculpture by the Sea

More than 100 sculptures by Australian and international artists are on display in the most beautiful exhibition space in the world – the two-kilometre coastal strip between Bondi and Tamarama. Go on weekends for the artist talks at Marks Park and Tamarama between 11am and 3pm, or visit during the week to avoid the crowds.

WHERE Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk, Sydney
WHEN October 22-November 8

Orange Wine Festival

The Orange Wine Festival, celebrating its 10th anniversary, sees the region’s cool-climate vineyards showing off their wines with the help of some of the country’s best chefs. On October 24, for instance, Giovanni Pilu – from two-hatted restaurant Pilu at Freshwater – will pair a Sardinian feast with Philip Shaw Wines in the winery’s bluestone barn.

WHERE Various locations
WHEN October 16-November 11

Sydney Craft Beer Week

A Belgian beer brunch at The Local Taphouse in Darlinghurst and a ladies-only beer high tea at Harts Pub in The Rocks are just two of the more than 130 events taking place across Sydney over this nine-day celebration of craft beer. If the options are too overwhelming, join Dave’s Brewery Tours on a trail of discovery as you visit craft breweries throughout the city.

WHERE Various locations
WHEN October 17-25

Western Australia

Fremantle Festival

The 10-day Fremantle Festival is chock-full of exciting events – from live performances by artists such as four-time ARIA Award winner Katie Noonan to The Biggest Comedy Show on Earth, which enjoyed a sellout season at the Perth Comedy Festival earlier this year. A highlight is the Street Parade, which sees colourful floats taking over the streets of Freo.

WHERE Various locations
WHEN October 23-November 1

Treasure Ships: Art in the Age of Spices

Stories of the slave trade, spice markets and piracy come to life in this exhibition of art from the 15th to early-19th centuries. There are 250 pieces on display – including sculptures, textiles and maps – as well as artefacts from the shipwrecks Batavia and Vergulde Draeck (Gilt Dragon), which both sank off the coast of what’s now WA in the 1600s.

WHERE Art Gallery of WA
WHEN October 10-January 31


Caloundra Music Festival

With an excellent line-up of homegrown artists, including brother-and-sister duo Angus and Julia Stone, Sydney singer-songwriter Ben Lee and indie darling Josh Pyke, the three-day Caloundra Music Festival is back for the ninth time. Don’t miss festival favourite Xavier Rudd, who’ll perform with his eight-member band, The United Nations.

WHERE Caloundra
WHEN October 2-5 

South Australia

Flinders Ranges Outback Epic Mountain Bike Race

Three races – 205, 109 and 64 kilometres – are held during the Flinders Ranges Outback Epic. Whichever you participate in, this is a great (though exhausting) way to take in the rugged scenery of the region. The longest race starts and ends at Wilpena Pound Resort – an ideal spot to relax after a hard day’s riding.

WHERE Flinders Ranges
WHEN October 24

Dirty Dancing

Kurt Phelan stars as charismatic dance teacher Johnny Castle, while Kirby Burgess steps into the shoes of the innocent Frances “Baby” Houseman in John Frost’s stage production of Dirty Dancing. The show features all the famous tracks, including Hungry Eyes, Do You Love Me and (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.

WHERE Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre
WHEN October 2-November 1


With exhibitions, public programs, community events and an art fair, Tarnanthi is the Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art. The inaugural event gives an insight into the world of artists such as weaver Yvonne Koolmatrie, whose Riverland exhibition includes more than 60 works from a career spanning three decades.

WHERE Art Gallery of SA, Adelaide
WHEN October 8-18

Australian Capital Territory


After directing the well-received Henry V for Bell Shakespeare last year, Damien Ryan returns to the company with a new production of the Bard’s timeless tragedy, Hamlet. Josh McConville takes on one of the biggest roles of his career as the Danish prince who can’t decide whether or not to be, in a play replete with volatile emotions, murder and betrayal.

WHERE Canberra Theatre Centre
WHEN October 13-24


Table Cape Tulip

The stunning tulip fields around Wynyard, two hours north-west of Launceston, burst with colourful blooms at this time of the year. Tiptoe through the tulips at Table Cape Tulip Farm (363 Table Cape Road, Wynyard) on one of its open days and check out the Bloomin’ Tulips Festival at Gutteridge Gardens in Wynyard on October 10. 

WHERE Wynyard
WHEN Until October 18

Vic & NSW

Angela Gheorghiu

One of the world’s best-known opera stars, Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu comes to Australia for the first time. Performing with the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, the glamorous diva will sing Puccini favourites as well as arias by Massenet and Bizet.

WHERE Sydney Opera House and Arts Centre Melbourne
WHEN October 8 (Sydney) and October 13 (Melbourne)

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