What’s on in August

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Here's this month’s top 15 sports and cultural events.

ACT & NSW

Fireside Festival

When the mercury dips below 15 in Australia, the way some of us carry on you’d think it was the dawn of a new ice age. To be fair, it does get a tad chilly in the nation’s capital. But comfort is at hand during this festival offering hearty fare, local wines, bands and roaring fires. Sweet tooth? Don’t miss the Chocolate Lovers Unite event at Robyn Rowe Chocolates in Murrumbateman. 

When: August 1-31
Where: Various venues, Canberra region

Victoria

Melbourne Writers Festival

“The writing life is essentially one of solitary confinement – if you can’t deal with this you needn’t apply.” So said British writer Will Self, one of 2015’s notable speakers. This year’s literary luminaries – including American author David Levithan and Anna Funder, of All That I Am fame – will emerge from their foxholes for 10 days of lively discussion. Visit mwf.com.au

When: August 26-September 4
Where: Federation Square, Melbourne

Spring Racing Carnival

The highlight of the Australian horseracing calendar gets off and running on August 27 with the first Group 1 race of the carnival, the $400,000 Memsie Stakes taking place at Caulfield Racecourse. This race is seen as important preparation for the horses that will contest the season’s biggest events; namely, the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and “the race that stops a nation”. Go to racing.com/spring

When: August 27-November 12
Where: Various venues, Melbourne

NSW

My Fair Lady

Julie Andrews. At the Sydney Opera House. Starring in My Fair Lady. Oh, wouldn’t that be loverly? Sure but the great British dame directing it Down Under is the next best thing. The show is celebrating its 60th anniversary and this new production stars Australian actress Anna O’Byrne as Eliza Doolittle and British actor Alex Jennings as Professor Higgins. 

When: August 30-October 23
Where: Sydney Opera House

Rugby: Australia vs New Zealand

The last time Australia raised the Bledisloe Cup, George W. Bush was the US president and Kylie Minogue’s Can’t Get You Out of My Head was ruling the pop charts. That was 14 years ago. Since then, the Wallabies have had a clear-out or two but no combination has been able to stop the All Blacks juggernaut. Can Folau, Pocock, Hooper and co. be the ones? Visit aru.com.au

When: August 20
Where: ANZ Stadium, Sydney

What’s on in August 2016

Trevor Noah Live

Trevor Noah is best known these days as the host of The Daily Show, America’s popular satirical look at news and current affairs. Before that, though, the South African-born comedian was killing it on the stand-up comedy circuit with sold-out shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. He returns to his roots, just for us, as part of the Just for Laughs Sydney festival.

When: August 28
Where: Sydney Opera House

Cirque du Soleil’s Kooza

The storied Canadian theatrical and acrobatic company Cirque du Soleil returns to Australia for the ninth time with this latest performance of death-defying stunts and extreme fun. With a focus on traditional clowning and high-octane tomfoolery, Kooza features 50 performers in eight acts, including the Wheel of Death and Double Highwire.

When: August 25-October 9
Where: Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park, Sydney

What’s on in August 2016

The Hanging

“Two school girls are missing in Melbourne’s hinterland. The one clue is their closest friend and confidante. Beguiling and quick-witted, this 14-year-old ingénue won’t give up her secrets easily.” This is the premise for the STC’s homegrown production, a thriller by Angela Betzien, directed by Sarah Goodes and starring Luke Carroll, Ashleigh Cummings and Genevieve Lemon.

When: August 1-September 10
Where: Sydney Theatre Company

Queensland

Audi Hamilton Island Race Week

International sailing fans and competitors will breeze in to beautiful Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays as Australia’s largest offshore keelboat regatta returns. A packed racing schedule will be complemented by an array of fun onshore events, including the Wild Oats Wines Ladies Lunch and the Paspaley Dinner, which is held at Qualia resort. Go to hamiltonislandraceweek.com.au

When: August 20-27
Where: Hamilton Island

What’s on in August 2016

Taste Port Douglas Food & Wine Festival

Not sure what the collective noun for chefs is (a simmer? A jus?) but there will be at least 18 of them at this hunger-busting event in North Queensland. Culinary experts such as Colin Fassnidge, Adrian Richardson and Valli Little will take part in the three-day “foodie fest” that includes tastings, discussions, classes and dinners. Visit tasteportdouglas.com

When: August 12-14
Where: Various venues, Port Douglas

SA

South Australia Living Artists Festival

SALA is the largest celebration of visual arts in Australia and this statewide festival is open to emerging and established artists and innovators across a range of mediums. Check out group and solo exhibitions, workshops and more, held in public spaces and galleries as well as cafés, restaurants, wineries and offices.

When: August 1-31
Where: Various venues, South Australia

WA

CinéfestOz

This prestigious film festival has a scenic setting in the coastal areas of Busselton, Bunbury, Dunsborough and the Margaret River wine region in Western Australia. The $100,000 prize, for the best Australian feature film entered, is the nation’s richest. This year’s Film Prize Jury chair is award-winning Aussie filmmaker Gillian Armstrong.

When: August 24-28
Where: South West region

Victoria

Bruce Armstrong: An Anthology of Strange Creatures

Bruce Armstrong has been carving weird and wonderful, often mythological, creatures from huge blocks of red gum since the 1980s. More than 30 of this unique Australian sculptor’s most memorable works, brought together from private and public collections, will be on display. 

When: August 26-January 29, 2017
Where: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

What’s on in August 2016

NT

Alice Desert Festival

Get a taste of the desert, in some cases literally, at one of Central Australia’s best annual cultural events. Talent from near and far will combine in an eclectic mix of music, art, theatre, film, comedy, local food and more. Among this year’s highlights are The Cosmic Joker, performed by the multi-talented Ludovic Dumas, and electronic music and art collaboration UnTii TuTTi. Go to alicedesertfestival.com.au

When: August 27-September 6
Where: Various venues, Alice Springs

Darwin Festival

Wondering what Peter Garrett’s been up to since quitting politics? He’s returned to what he does best and will perform his solo album, A Version of Now, with the Alter Egos on August 7 at the Darwin Botanic Gardens. Try, also, to make the opening-night concert featuring Sarah Blasko and Nabarlek, a Western Arnhem Land “garage band that never had a garage”. Visit darwinfestival.org.au

When: August 4-21
Where: Various venues, Darwin

What’s on in August 2016

SEE ALSO: The Hottest New Restaurants in August

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