Arts festivals and fairs across Australia this August


From Cairns to Darwin to Gold Coast to Melbourne to South Australia, throughout August there are multiple art fairs and festivals throughout the country, as well as online. Here’s our round-up of what to see.

Online: Spring1883 x Artsy

4–29 August

While lockdown restrictions have unfortunately meant Spring1883 will no longer happen IRL at The Hotel Windsor in Melbourne, the boutique fair is partnering with Artsy for an online iteration, playing host to galleries and artists from across Australia and New Zealand. This year’s fair includes newer galleries such as FUTURES, alongside Spring regulars like Kalli Rolfe Contemporary Art, Daine Singer, LON Gallery, Neon Parc, Sarah Scout, Nicholas Thompson Gallery, STATION, Sutton Gallery, CAVES and This Is No Fantasy—plus many more. Some galleries may also be hosting their own satellite versions of Spring1883 across 4—7 August.

Tom Polo, stains, stages, strangers, 2021. Image courtesy of the artist and STATION Gallery.



South Australia: SALA Festival

1—31 August

Happening across greater South Australia, this year’s SALA is setting records: 9,167 artists across 600 exhibitions. The 2021 feature artist is Roy Ananda with his exhibition Supreme Library at Adelaide Central Gallery, while other ‘must-see’ shows include Heatwave at West Thebarton Gallery and Tali Puli Motuka Kala – Sand dunes, Rock hills, Cars, and Colour at APY Gallery. View the full program here.

Cassaria Young Hogan, Motuka Tjuta, painting, 91 x 91 cm. Courtesy of the artist and APY Gallery.


Darwin: Darwin Festival

5—22 August

Music, theatre, dance, performance, fashion and art—Darwin Festival is a chance to celebrate the myriad art forms pulsating throughout the city. The opening night centres on the culture of Gurrumul and the people of North East Arnhem, with a live performance by Yolŋu dancers and songmen, as well as the Darwin Symphony Orchestra. Then there’s the epic circus production The Pulse, fashion shows, music awards, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award at the Museum and Gallery of the Northern Territory, and artist Yana Alana’s The Legend of Queen Kong—a queer, comic, sci-fi rock odyssey. See the full line-up of events here.

Pulse 2020, image courtesy of Darwin Festival.



North Queensland: Pop Up North Queensland (PUNQ)

30 July—8 August

Taking place from sugar-cane fields and beaches (just to name a few spots), this year’s Pop Up North Queensland (PUNQ) delivers art and performance to the state’s top regions. Drawing on themes as diverse as UFO sightings, natural disasters and the environmental degradation of the Great Barrier Reef, the regional ten-day festival spans Townsville, Magnetic Island, Charters Towers and Hinchinbrook. It includes artists Alison McDonald, Dancenorth Australia, Tony Albert and Gail Mabo—and this is just a few from the full program here.

Tania Lou Smith, Untitled (gloves), 2021, © Tania Lou Smith.



Cairns: Cairns Indigenous Art Fair

postponed to 10–14 November

An after-dark film festival, music in the park, and exhibitions that celebrate the brilliance of Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture—this is a sample of what’s on offer at Cairns Indigenous Art Fair. With a program brimming with shows, the fair’s signature fashion event returns to the Tanks Arts Centre, plus exhibitions at UMI Arts and Cairns Regional Gallery—amongst many more performances and events.

Marlijah Cathy Snow, Barlawink (Three Rivers Freshwater Mussels), 2021.


Sunshine Coast: Horizon Festival

cancelled due to Covid-19

Beginning in late August, the Sunshine Coast’s Horizon Festival spans multiple art forms, which are centralised in the festival’s The Wonderland Spiegeltent, featuring cabaret, comedy, circus, dance and theatre. There’s also an open-air concert series, dawn ceremonies for connecting to Country, and an exhibition on climate change. Have a look at the full line-up.

Common People Dance, image courtesy of the artists and Horizon Festival.


Gold Coast: Bleach Festival

12—22 August

Bleach Festival sees a line-up of contemporary art, music and performance, all framed by the Southern Queensland coastline. Spanning sites like beachside esplanades, abandoned buildings and hinterland hideaways, the 11-day festival includes over 90 performances and events, with major visual arts commissions from artists Vernon Ah Kee, Tina Havelock Stevens, Justene Williams, and architect and designer Kevin O’Brien. See the full program for more.

Vernon Ah Kee, all these scars are mine, image courtesy of the artist and Bleach Festival.



Melbourne – Fed Square: Anything But Square Winter Program

Winter 2021

As Melbourne reopens, so does Fed Square’s Anything But Square Winter Program, transforming this CBD spot into a family-centred arts square. Highlights include The Knot, a new large-scale art installation by French artist Cyril Lancelin, as well as an upcoming French Film Festival and Frenchy Weekends, and a Curious Creates performance where mystical creatures come out after dark—and there’s more to check out.

The Knot, ft. Curious Creatures. Photography: Liam Neal
Preview Words by Tiarney Miekus