This month’s top sports and cultural events. Compiled by Rob Badman.
Fremantle International Street Arts Festival
Various venues, Fremantle April 13-17
Australia’s biggest street arts festival returns, bringing a hotchpotch of brilliantly bizarre performers from around the globe to the streets of Freo for three Easter long-weekend days and nights. Highlights include the “Las Vegas lounge meets ’80s pop melodrama” of the Buskers Cabaret and the “acrobatics, re and stupidity” of Zap Circus.
Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Various venues, Melbourne March 29-April 23
This beloved festival of funny – the third largest of its kind – is preparing once again to host the world’s most laughable array of talent. And we mean that in a good way, of course. This year’s acts include America’s sassy and super-smart Ruby Wax, Ireland’s “very, very low-budget Enya”, David O’Doherty, and lovably deranged Englishman Paul Foot.
Oakbank Easter Racing Carnival
Oakbank Racecourse, Adelaide Hills
April 15, 17
For many Adelaide Hills folk, one of the highlights of the Easter break is this classic racing carnival. Harking back to the late-19th century, it’s steeped in local history and creates a festive atmosphere with carnival rides, BYO picnic areas and the country’s second-longest public- course gallop – the hair-raising Great Eastern Steeplechase.
Sydney Royal Easter Show
Sydney Showground, Sydney Olympic Park
For city/suburban slickers, the Show is an excellent chance to witness a slice of Australian rural life and culture. Since it started in 1823, it’s become Australia’s largest annual ticketed event, with more than 850,000 people passing through the gates each year. Buy a show bag, check out the woodchopping action and pat some of the 14,000 animals.
Three Little Words
Southbank Theatre, Melbourne April 18-May 27
What happens when life as you know it hinges on a flailing relationship? Such is the case for cosmopolitan types Annie and her partner, Bonnie, whose world falls apart when their two friends break up. This biting comedy by the Melbourne Theatre Company – written by esteemed playwright Joanna Murray-Smith – asks if a cultured life can equip one for the bumpy road ahead.
Byron Bay Bluesfest
Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm, Tyagarah April 13-17
Now in its 28th year, it’s probably fair to say this hugely popular blues-and-roots music festival reached icon status some time ago. The variety and quality of global and local talent it draws each year never fails to impress. Notable international acts include legends Jimmy Buffett, Buddy Guy, Mavis Staples, Santana, The Lumineers and Mary J. Blige.
Taste Great Southern
Various venues, Great Southern March 23-April 9
Spread along Western Australia’s southern coast and into the hinterland, this regional festival showcases the exceptional local produce on offer. Expect to find seafood, grains, lamb and beef paired with a shiraz, riesling or pinot noir from a nearby winery. Don’t miss the Albany Food & Wine Festival or the 3Drops long lunch at Garrison restaurant with guest chef Colin Fassnidge.
Gold Coast Film Festival
Various venues, Gold Coast April 19-30
More than a series of screenings of local and international flicks, the Gold Coast Film Festival has a host of extra events to enjoy this year. Bring your best “blue steel” and get on board the Zoolander Model Boat Party, catch some gems at the Flickerfest short- film festival and, for industry insights, attend the Adaptation: From Script to Screen Panel seminar and the Women in Film lunch.
Barossa Vintage Festival
Various locations, the Barossa April 19-23
A handcrafting theme will run through the 70th annual Barossa Vintage Festival, paying homage to the history of the region and its core artisanal traditions, such as food and wine. This year’s program will feature more than 90 events over five days of vibrant fun – make sure you’ve got your dancing shoes for both the Chook Shed Social Club and Americana- themed Silver Raven Festival.
Sydney Lyric theatre, Pyrmont From April 21
You definitely know the chorus of its anthemic hit. (Hint: the first two words are “And IIIIIIII...”) You probably know the story, too, and that’s okay; some prior knowledge should only add to the experience. R ’n’ B singer Paulini steps into the shoes of Rachel Marron (played by Whitney Houston in the lm), while Kip Gamblin will be doing something Kevin Costner didn’t – sing.
Sydney Comedy Festival
Various venues, Sydney April 24-May 21
Humour is subjective so it’s a good thing that this festival has a broad range of differing talent. Classic craic and nonsense will spill forth from Irishman Jimeoin; punchy witticism is Canadian Mae Martin’s forte; America’s Pajama Men deal in richly inventive sketch comedy; and Australia’s own “acid-tongued prince”, Joel Creasey, will be speaking his razor-sharp mind.
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach
Bells Beach, Great Ocean Road April 12-24
This World Surf League tour favourite has been running for more than 55 years. From the moment AC/DC’s Hells Bells is played on the first morning of competition to the presentation of the prestigious bell trophy, there’ll be a buzz on the beach and in the nearby seaside town of Torquay as fans of the sport revel in some of the best pro surfing on offer.
Various venues, Adelaide April 30-May 7
Tasting Australia is one of the most anticipated events on the country’s culinary calendar. This year, the creative team of Maggie Beer, Simon Bryant and Jock Zonfrillo have lured one of the world’s nest chefs, Marco Pierre White. Headlining a packed schedule, he’ll help put together an Italian-themed feast at Seppelts field winery’s renowned Fino restaurant.
Various locations, Tasmania April 24-29
Self-described as a “genuine red- blooded motorsport competition”, Targa Tasmania takes its name from the Targa Florio, a former motoring event held in Sicily. At more than 2000 kilometres, with over 40 stages, it’s the longest and one of the most difficult tarmac rally courses in the world. With classic and modern vehicle race categories, there’s something for enthusiasts of all vintages.
Ayers Rock Resort, Yulara April 22-25
Tjungu means “meeting together” in the local Anangu language of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta region and that’s exactly what culture enthusiasts will be doing during this broadly themed, four-day family-friendly festival now in its fourth year. Highlights include a program of short films, a fashion parade, traditional and modern Indigenous music and the Tjungu Cup Aussie rules football match.
Top image: Melbourne International Comedy Festival