11 Festivals and fairs in the second half of 2024

From collecting artworks to experiencing the nexus of art and technology, across Darwin, North Queensland, South Australia, Melbourne, Sydney and much more, here’s our curated list of the arts festivals and fairs still to come in 2024.

Sydney Contemporary, 5—8 September

Sydney Contemporary 2023 at Carriageworks. Photo by Wes Nel Photography.

Attracting 25,000 visitors each year and over $20 million in sales for the last fair, and with 81 galleries already announced as participating, Sydney Contemporary at Carriageworks is a staple of the art world calendar. Alongside booths targeting collectors and art-lovers, there’s also curated large-scale artworks, talks and performance programs, and forays into design and architecture. Tickets are on sale now.

Melbourne: Now or Never, 22—31 August

Now or Never 2023

In its second year, Now or Never festival is back with over 100 free and ticketed events exploring art, ideas, sound and technology. Arts highlights include Marco Fusinato presenting his 2022 Venice Biennale work at NantStudios in Docklands; a public installation at Southbank by Joanie Lemercier from Studio Lemercier; London based art practice United Visual Artists (UVA) presenting two large scale works, Silent Symphony and Present Shock II; and arts collective SOFT CENTRE making its long-awaited Melbourne debut. Tickets and the full program can be found here.

South Australia: SALA Festival, 1—31 August

Julia Robinson, Hush, hush (detail), 2023, linen, thread, scythe blades, steel, fixings, 70 x 100 x 12cm. Photo by Sam Roberts.

The annual South Australian Living Artists (SALA) Festival is a month-long celebration of contemporary art and artists from all disciplines and levels of experience. The statewide festival features over 900 artists, across over 600 venues across the state—from galleries, artist-run spaces and open studios, to cafes and hairdressers. Every year the festival chooses a feature artist, and the 2024 edition is celebrating Julia Robinson, who will exhibit at both the AGSA and in a show at Adelaide Central Gallery. SALA Festival takes place throughout the month of August. More info can be found here.

South Australia: Tarnanthi Festival, From October

Josephine Lennon, Mirning/Antikirinjara people, South Australia , born Port Augusta, South Australia 1972, Lake MacDonnell (detail), 2023, Ceduna, South Australia, synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 98.0 x 86.0 cm; © the artist; photo: Sam Roberts.

Tarnanthi is an annual celebration Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and culture put on by the Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA), spanning exhibitions, artistic projects, public programs, education events and more. The 2024 program includes a number of AGSA exhibitions touring nationally, such as Vincent Namatjira: Australia in colour and Kungka Kuṉpu (Strong Women), while Saltbush Country takes their place in the Adelaide gallery. The Tarnanthi Art Fair is returning online this year as well. More info here.

Darwin Festival , 8—25 August

Darwin Festival, 2023. Photo by Charlie Bliss

Across 18 days Darwin celebrates the arts through music, theatre, visual art, dance, cabaret, and comedy. The visual art centrepiece is the announcement of the winners of the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAAs) and the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, but there’s plentiful arts happenings like giant inflatable dogs at Festival Park, a showcase of Tiwi art, and shows centering landscape and colour. Explore the full program here.

Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair , 9—11 August

DAAF Friday, Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair 2023, Photo by Tamati Smith.

Happening at the same time as Darwin Festival, the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair takes place on Larrakia Country and online. Now in its 18th year, it’s a chance to not only view and purchase work, but as the fair states, it “marks a special moment in the year for many Art Centres and remote Indigenous communities. A unique time for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, Arts Workers and designers to come together, reconnect, share and be proud of their diverse works, and cultures.” Find out more, and view online.


North Queensland: PUNQ, 1—18 August

Waymaker: Uncle Russell Butler, 2024, Billboard exhibition. Waymaker concept and curation: Vicki Saylor (Manbarra Traditional Owner). PUNQ 2024 commission. Photograph: Pippa Samaya.

Produced by Umbrella Studio Contemporary Arts, PUNQ (Pop Up North Queensland) is a biennial place-making festival that engages with spaces, histories, and futures through art. Spanning exhibitions, site-specific installations, performances, workshops and so much more, PUNQ takes place across North Queensland on Gurambilbarra/Townsville, Yunbenun/Magnetic Island, Warrgamay, Nywaigi & Bandjin Country/Hinchinbrook and Gudjal Country/Charters Towers. Explore the full program here.

Cairns Festival, 23 August—1 September

Founded in 1962, Cairns Festival is regional Queensland’s most significant and fastest-growing community event. The 2024 festival takes place across seven venues and includes live music, immersive art installations, dance performances, carnivals, fireworks, and the annual Grand Parade. The aim of the festival is “to deliver a bright, bold and challenging program spanning visual and performing arts, culture and entertainment while showcasing the city’s key cultural precincts, nurturing local talent and driving tourism.” More info can be found here.

Cairns Indigenous Art Fair , 25—28 July

Irene Robinson, Teho Ropeyarn and Francoise Lane.

Celebrating its 15th anniversary Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) is as much an opportunity to buy art as it is a celebration of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts, culture, and fashion. With this year’s theme Country Speaking, it’s set to have over 30,000 visitors with everything from an art market to masterclasses and programs, plus children’s activities. Events are a mix of free and ticketed, there’s also shows at Bulmba-ja Arts Centre, Cairns Art Gallery, Court House Gallery, and repurposed World War I oil tanks of Tanks Arts Centre in Edge Hill’s botanical precinct.

Gold Coast: BLEACH*, 1—11 August

BLEACH* is the Gold Coast’s annual contemporary arts festival, packed with over 30 shows, 110 performances, and eight world premieres. Presented across four festival hubs including North Burleigh, Broadbeach Cultural Precinct, HOTA, Home ofthe Arts and the Tallebudgera Valley, there Australian and international creatives span Bree Van Reyk, Ellen van Neerven, Erik Griswold, The Farm, Gravity and Other Myths, Karul Projects, Lucy Guerin AO, Wayfinders – A Pacific Journey and Tim Munro. The program is truly stacked.

Newcastle: New Annual, 29 September—6 October

Curious Legends, Whale Song.

A 10-day festival of art and culture in Muloobinba Newcastle, New Annual’s 2024 program includes everything from dance to film, to music and walking tours. Visual arts highlights include an exhibition at Watt Space Gallery that shares stories of displacement, resilience and hope from six refugees who took asylum in Australia; Khaled Sabsabi showing at The Lock Up; and a virtual space bridge that highlights the importance of genuine social connection at 164 Hunter Street.

Feature Words by Art Guide Australia