What’s on in February

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Feb 01, 2017

by TRAVEL INSIDER WRITERS

The top sports and cultural events around Australia in February.

VARIOUS STATES

Handel’s Messiah

The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra joins forces with the Brandenburg Choir and the company’s young soloists for their first-ever performance of Handel’s Messiah. Featuring the much-loved Hallelujah Chorus, this oratorio has been winning hearts since it premiered in Dublin in 1742. 

WHERE: City Recital Hall, Sydney, and Melbourne Recital Centre
WHEN: Various dates in February and March

Terrain Regional Victoria and Hobart

Bangarra Dance Theatre’s revival of Terrain continues to combine contemporary dance and music with Indigenous culture and storytelling to convey the bond between Aboriginal peoples and the land. The tour heads south for performances in Ballarat, Bendigo, Mildura, Geelong and Shepparton, with a side trip to Hobart in between.

WHEN: Various dates in February and March

NSW 

Australian Open of Surfing

Not just a surfing competition, the Australian Open is more like a week-long festival celebrating everything sun, sand and surf. Stroll along Manly’s beautiful beachfront to find food trucks, musicians, skateboarding (the Vans Park Series World Tour opener) and, of course, world-class surfing. Current champion Tyler Wright is the event’s official ambassador.

WHERE: Manly Beach, Sydney
WHEN: February 25-March 5

Sydney Chinese New Year Festival

It’s one of the biggest lunar new year events outside Asia and this one promises to be especially good because it’s the Year of the Rooster, an animal that loves to be the centre of attention. There are 80-plus events, including Circular Quay’s Lunar Lanterns trail, with animal figures up to 10 metres tall, and an Asian food festival at Pyrmont Bay Park.

WHERE: Various venues, Sydney
WHEN: January 27-February 12

Surfest

Top-class surfers converge on Newcastle to tackle right-handers rolling in at Merewether Beach. Previous big-name winners at Surfest – including Joel Parkinson, Mick Fanning, Kelly Slater and local Mark Richards – give the event prestige, while its celebration of grassroots surfing, Australian beach culture and the city of Newcastle sets it apart from the rest.

WHERE: Merewether Beach, Newcastle
WHEN: February 20-26

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival

The street parade (March 4) steals the limelight but Mardi Gras is actually a fortnight-long affair. Highlights include Queer Screen’s film festival, which showcases the diversity of the LGBTQI community; the annual Fair Day; a pool party at Ivy’s Pool Club in the CBD; a comedy festival; and a fashion parade that explores gender-fluid styles.

WHERE: Various venues, Sydney
WHEN: February 17-March 5

La Traviata

Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho – considered one of the world’s best – plays the lead (until February 18) in this Verdi opera. Her character, Violetta, is a free-spirited courtesan who loves to party. But when she falls in love, everything changes. With its passionate duets, famous arias and all-out staging by director Elijah Moshinsky, this is an ideal opera for first-timers.

WHERE: Sydney Opera House
WHEN: February 3-April 1

VICTORIA

Bombay Talkies

See letters, film stills and other artefacts from Bombay Talkies, a legendary Bollywood film studio founded in 1934. The company released 40 films over 20 years, tackling taboo subjects such as women’s rights. The free exhibition is part of the Southbank Arts Precinct’s Asia TOPA program, a celebration of art from the Asia-Pacific region.

WHERE: Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne
WHEN: February 8-July 2

Superbike World Championship

The 30th Superbike World Championship kicks off on Phillip Island, showcasing top manufacturers and production motorbikes. Expect thrills (and maybe spills), fierce battles and close finishes in the races on Saturday and Sunday. Get even closer to the action with Pit Walk passes, extended Visitor Centre hours and the chance to get behind the wheel of a go-kart.

WHERE: Phillip Island Circuit
WHEN: February 24-26

Grampians Music Festival Halls Gap

The Grampians mountain range provides an arresting natural backdrop to an eclectic mix of musos. Tickets are limited to 2500 so you can count on intimate sets from acts including Alex Lahey, Hey Geronimo and The Cat Empire’s Felix Riebl.

WHERE: February 24-26

QUEENSLAND

The Sleeping Beauty

Artistic director David McAllister’s first production for The Australian Ballet was a huge success when it debuted in 2015 and now it’s enjoying an encore season. Billed as the company’s “most lavish production”, the show captivates with exquisite costumes, a Tchaikovsky score and demanding choreography. It travels to Melbourne in June.

WHERE: Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Brisbane
WHEN: February 24-March 4

Sand Safari Arts Festival

Thousands descend on the Surfers Paradise foreshore to see the nation’s best and sandiest compete in the Australian Sand Sculpting Championships. Pop-up galleries continue the sand-and-sea theme, while British “inflatablist” Filthy Luker is back with his inflatable street art (last year he created Octopied Hotel, giving the Islander Resort Hotel giant green tentacles).

WHERE: Various venues, Surfers Paradise
WHEN: February 10-26

Chinchilla Melon Festival

If you thought watermelons were just for eating, prepare to be amazed. At Chinchilla, you’ll see melon headwear, melon skis and melon-tossing competitions. There’s also a melon chariot race, melon tug of war (opposite) and, of course, melon-eating contests. The extreme sport of splitting melons open with your head no longer features at the festival but for those who are curious, the record stands at 47 in one minute.

WHERE: Chinchilla
WHEN: February 16-19

Have A Go! Festival

In an age when most products are knocked out by a machine, there is something special about objects conceived by the mind and then created by hand. Here you can see artisans making anything from musical instruments to hats. They’ll even give you a crash course in their craft during a 90-minute workshop.

WHERE: Cobb + Co Museum, Toowoomba
WHEN: February 25

Agnes Blues Roots & Rock Festival

It’s hard to imagine feeling down while travelling through Agnes Water on Central Queensland’s Discovery Coast. Swim in sapphire-blue water under a clear blue sky, sure. But sing the blues? Not likely. It’s good news that this music festival has roots and rock on the bill, too.

WHERE: Agnes Water
WHEN: February 17-19

Chinese New Year Celebrations

Bundaberg locals have something to crow about as they usher in the Year of the Rooster. The city will be treated to authentic dragon- and lion-dancing by performers from Nanning, Bundaberg’s sister city in China. And, of course, you can always count on a cracking fireworks display during Chinese New Year festivities.

WHERE: Bundaberg
WHEN: February 11

SA

Adelaide Fringe

No free space is left untouched when Adelaide hosts more than 1000 events during the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest annual arts festival – vacant buildings, alleyways and laundromats are all fair game. Don’t miss Amanda Palmer (of punk cabaret duo The Dresden Dolls) or Trainspotting, performed by Scottish theatre group In Your Face in a secret CBD location.

WHERE: Various venues, Adelaide
WHEN: February 17-March 19

WA

Matilda The Musical

Roald Dahl’s Matilda Wormwood – the adorable girl with magical powers and a love of literature – stars in this musical by the Royal Shakespeare Company. The show, which features songs by Perth’s Tim Minchin, had sellout seasons in Sydney and Melbourne and wowed audiences in London and New York, where it won a record-breaking seven Olivier Awards and four Tonys.

WHERE: Crown Theatre, Perth
WHEN: February 28-May 7

Killer Whale Expedition Season

About 60 kilometres off the Western Australian coast, a deep-sea canyon bustles with life as nutrient-rich waters flowing in from Antarctica attract all manner of sea creatures. The stars of this underwater show are a large pod of killer whales. See the magnificent mammals swim in their natural habitat.

WHERE: Bremer Bay
WHEN: Late January to mid-April

Laneway Festival

An exciting line-up of local bands – and international acts – proves this festival has its finger firmly on the pulse of the Australian music scene. Nick Murphy tops the bill with WA’s own Tame Impala, fronted by Kevin Parker, while hip-hop duo A. B. Original will emcee and perform.

WHERE: Fremantle
WHEN: February 5

Perth International Arts Festival

On top of hosting 700 artists and claiming five world premieres, this festival has its own scent – lemon myrtle – which will pervade venues and menus for the duration. Must-sees include circus group Nouveau Cirque du Vietnam, making its Australian debut, and The Gabriels: Election Year in the Life of One Family, an eight-hour theatre marathon comprising three parts.

WHERE: Various venues, Perth
WHEN: February 10-March 5

ACT

Canberra Food & Wine Expo

If Canberra’s exploding food scene isn’t enough for you, get to this gourmets’ festival, where you can pick up tricks from MasterChef’s Ben Milbourne and My Kitchen Rules’ Carly Saunders, Tresne Middleton and Tasia and Gracia Seger. Peruse more than 90 exhibits, sample produce and wine and check out the latest gadgets.

WHERE: National Convention Centre Canberra
WHEN: February 17-19

Prime Minister’s XI vs Sri Lanka

A highlight of Canberra’s summer sports calendar sees up-and-coming Aussie cricketers – ostensibly picked by the PM – take on Sri Lanka. There’ll be an evening start because they’re playing the Twenty20 version of the game, so Mr Turnbull won’t miss a wicket if he races to Manuka Oval after Question Time.

WHERE: Manuka Oval, Canberra
WHEN: February 15

National Multicultural Festival

This is a free family-friendly event but you’ll want to bring your wallet to take your tastebuds on a world tour. You’ll also discover that there is more to multiculturalism than menu choices as you watch the spectacular array of music and dance.

WHERE: Civic, Canberra
WHEN: February 17-19

TASMANIA

Clarence Jazz Festival

The stellar line-up in a program of free outdoor shows and ticketed events includes top Australian hot-swing bands Lucky Seven, The Shuffle Club and Yesterday’s Gentlemen, as well as Canadian trumpeter and composer Mike Field. Festival ambassadors Paul Williamson, Dan Barnett and George Washingmachine will perform alongside local musicians, too.

WHERE: Various venues, Hobart
WHEN: February 18-26

Evandale Village Fair

Bicycles from a bygone era race past Georgian and early-Victorian buildings on the historic streets of Evandale during the National Penny Farthing Championships – the main event of this annual fair. There are separate races for women, juniors and veterans, plus entertainment galore.

WHERE: Evandale
WHEN: February 18

Australian Wooden Boat Festival

Hoist the sails and head south to Hobart’s Sullivans Cove to learn about Australia’s maritime history and meet the craftsmen keeping the traditions of wooden-boat-building alive. Whether you’re an old sea-dog or a landlubber, you’ll appreciate the beauty of the boats in the harbour.

WHERE: Hobart
WHEN: February 10-13

NT 

Parap Village Markets

Wander the stalls of the weekly Parap Village Markets and be entertained by local musicians as you browse handcrafted jewellery, search for one-off pieces of clothing and work up an appetite for some of the freshest and finest Asian cuisine on offer in the Territory.

WHERE: Parap, Darwin
WHEN: Saturdays, 8am-2pm