For an exhaustive list of events beyond those listed here, check http://events.frommers.com, where you’ll find a searchable, up-to-the-minute roster of what's happening in cities all over the world
Sydney Festival: Highlights of Sydney’s visual and performing-arts festival are free jazz or classical music concerts held outdoors on two Saturday nights near the Royal Botanic Gardens. (Take a picnic and arrive by 4pm to get a spot on the grass.) The festival involves about 100 events featuring 1,000 artists at 20 venues. Call tel. 02/8248 6500 or go to www.sydneyfestival.org.au. Three weeks from early January.
The Australian Open: The Asia/Pacific Grand Slam is played every year at the Melbourne Park National Tennis Centre. Tickets go on sale in October through Ticketek (tel. 1300/888 104 in Australia or 02/8736 2711; www.ticketek.com.au). For more information check out www.australianopen.com. Last 2 weeks of January.
Australia Day: Australia’s answer to the Fourth of July marks the landing of the First Fleet of convicts at Sydney Cove in 1788. Every town puts on some kind of celebration; in Sydney, there are ferry races and tall ships on the harbor, food and wine stalls in Hyde Park, open days at museums and other attractions, and fireworks in the evening. www.australiaday.com.au. January 26.
Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras: A month of events, culminating in a spectacular parade of costumed dancers and decorated floats, watched by several hundred thousand onlookers. Contact Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras (tel. 02/9383 0900; www.mardigras.org.au).
Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, Melbourne: The first Grand Prix of the year, on the international FIA Formula 1 World Championship circuit, is battled out on one of its fastest circuits, in Melbourne. For tickets, contact Ticketek (tel. 13 19 31 in Australia), or order online at www.grandprix.com.au. Four days in the second week of March.
Anzac Day, nationwide: April 25 is Australia’s national day of mourning for servicemen and women who have died in wars and conflict. Commemorative services are held even in the smallest towns, some at dawn and some later, with major cities holding street parades for returned servicemen and women. Huge crowds turn out. Details of all services in Australia can be found at www.dva.gov.au/anzac.
Melbourne International Comedy Festival: Venues all over the city participate in this festival of laughs, which attracts top Australian and international talent. (tel. 1300/660 013; www.comedyfestival.com.au). First 3 weeks in April.
Sydney Film Festival: World and Australian premieres of Aussie and international movies take place in the State Theatre and other venues over 12 days. Contact the Sydney Film Festival (tel. 02/9690 5333; www.sff.org.au). First and second week in June.
Melbourne International Film Festival: About 350 films—new releases, shorts, and avant-garde movies—from 50 countries play at venues around the city during this annual festival (tel. 03/9662 3722; www.miff.com.au). Late July through early August.
Henley-on-Todd Regatta, Alice Springs: Sounds sophisticated, doesn’t it? It’s actually a harum-scarum race down the dry bed of the Todd River in homemade “boats,” made from anything you care to name—an old four-wheel-drive chassis, say, or beer cans lashed together. The only rule is the vessel has to look vaguely like a boat. Contact the organizers at tel. 0418/897 027 (mobile phone) or www.henleyontodd.com.au. Third Saturday in August.
Melbourne Fringe Festival: During the Fringe Festival (tel. 03/9660 9600; www.melbournefringe.com.au), the city’s streets, pubs, theaters, and restaurants play host to everyone from jugglers and fire-eaters to musicians and independent productions covering all art forms. Three weeks in late September/early October.
Brisbane Festival: A highlight of this arts festival (tel. 03/9660 9600; www.brisbanefestival.com.au) is Riverfire, a spectacular pyrotechnics display best seen from the riverbank. The festival program includes music, theatre, dance, comedy, opera, circus and much more. Three weeks in September.
Melbourne Cup, Flemington: They say the entire nation stops to watch this horse race. That’s about right. If you’re not actually at the $3.5-million race, you’re glued to the TV—or, well, you’re probably not an Australian. Women wear hats to the office, files on desks all over the country make way for a late chicken and champagne lunch, and don’t even think about flagging a cab at the 3pm race time. For tickets, contact Ticketek (tel. 132 849 in Australia; www.ticketek.com.au); for information, visit www.vrc.net.au. First Tuesday in November.
Sydney-to-Hobart Yacht Race: Find a cliff-top spot near the Heads to watch the glorious show of spinnakers, as 100 or so yachts leave Sydney Harbour for this grueling world-class event. The organizer is the Sydney-based Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (tel. 02/8292 7800; www.cyca.com.au). Starts December 26.
New Year’s Eve, Sydney: Watching the Sydney Harbour Bridge light up with fireworks is a treat. The main show is at 9pm, not midnight, so young kids don’t miss out. Pack a picnic and snag a Harbour-side spot by 4pm, or even earlier at the best vantage point—Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair in the Royal Botanic Gardens. December 31.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.