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By Emma Joyce
December 18, 2019

Seven Summer Festivals in Sydney That Are Perfect For Big-Group Hangs

Fire up the group chat, it's festival season.
By Emma Joyce
December 18, 2019


in partnership with

Fire up the group chat, it's festival season.

Whether you've got a gang of six or a crew of 30-plus, Sydney's summer festivals have the capacity to bring everyone together. Get the group going and start planning a chilled afternoon in the park sipping champagne, or something a little more energetic like a boogie to Charli XCX or an inclusive Mardi Gras kick-off party. Summer is festival season and there's no better time to get outside and make the most of it.

Unsure where to start? We've partnered with Sunglass Hut to bring you seven big festivals — from one-dayers to weekend adventures — that welcome your sprawling group of mates and plus-ones. Take a read for inspiration.

  • 7
    Parkes Elvis Festival 2020
    The perfect pairing:

    Every January the New South Wales town of Parkes more than doubles its population for a very special birthday celebration — Elvis Presley’s. The King may be long gone, but the regional town keeps his spirit very much alive when 27,000 loyal fans flock to five-day festival from January 8–12, proving that he was always on their mind.

    Elvis tribute artists from all over the world come to Parkes to battle it out to be named the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist. There’s a Miss Priscilla competition, rock ‘n’ roll dancing, daily markets, trivia, bingo, movie screenings of films like Frankie and Johnny (this year’s theme) and Love Me Tender. And there’s never been a better time to kick off your blue suede shoes for Elvis karaoke. Cue up ‘Jailhouse Rock’ and bring the house down.

    The huge celebration of the hip shaking hound dog started life in the early 90s and it has grown in popularity with more than 200 events on the bill, many of which are free to attend. If you’re a diehard regular, make sure you get into theme, which is the name of 1966 movie where Presley plays a riverboat gambler. It’s now or never.

    Need new sunnies? Face summer head on with: Ray-Ban Meteor Classic ($225).

  • 6
    Flickerfest International Short Film Festival Sydney 2020
    The perfect pairing:

    There’s something  cool about being ahead of the curve when it comes to cinema, watching the latest and greatest flicks unfold on the big screen before anyone else. Well, at Flickerfest Short Film Festival you can get ahead of the cool kids by watching a host of world premiere flicks before anyone else — even the big studios.

    The internationally acclaimed festival is back at Bondi Pavilion from Friday, January 10 to Sunday, January 19, and this year the folks at Flickerfest received a record 3500 entries from more than 100 countries around the world, making the 2020 program a real doozy. More than 200 handpicked creative and inspiring shorts will screen throughout the ten-day festival celebrating some of the world’s most talented filmmakers.

    The program is divided into categories, so you can catch all the flicks in genres that interest you most — like comedy, romance, LGBTQI+ and documentary.

    Face summer head on with: Ray-Ban ($275).

  • 5
    So Frenchy So Chic in the Park 2020
    The perfect pairing:

    The ever-popular one-day French festival is waltzing back to Bicentennial Park for its seventh year running. Expect an afternoon of French-inspired niceties, including (but not limited to) gourmet picnic hampers, offensively good wine and croquet — all to a chill French soundtrack.

    So Frenchy hinges around a lineup of eclectic artists. Say hello to disco-electronica queen Corine, who channels the glamour of the Parisian nightclub scene of the 70s and 80s with an erotic spin that is all her own; bow down to French pop royalty Lou Doillon (daughter of actor Jane Birkin and director Jacques Doillon) and her 2019 album Soliloquy; celebrate new wave cover band Nouvelle Vague’s 15th year as a group; and fall in love with the soulful voice of Senegal-born French troubadour Tété.

    If you’re not the most organised of picnickers, So Frenchy is putting on the works again with fancy picnic boxes and cheese plates. Filled with brioche buns, gruyere tarts, crusty baguettes, quiche lorraines, parfait, cheeses and more, the picnic boxes are available to preorder if you don’t want to miss out.

    Face summer head on with: Versace ($379.95).

  • 4
    Out Of Bounds 2020
    The perfect pairing:

    If you live on the fringes of Sydney it can sometimes feel like all the fun stuff is just out of reach — programmed for a weeknight after the last train home has left the station. That sense of isolation can mean young music fans miss out on seeing their favourite acts live, even the ones that grew up around the corner.

    Here to bridge that gap is record label founder Johann Ponniah, who set up I OH YOU. He grew up in Campbelltown and decided to create a music festival at the local running track, which will bring some of those local acts back to a big stage in the Macarthur region.

    The Rubens, who grew up down the road in Menangle, are headlining the festival alongside Melbourne rapper Illy. There’ll be two stages with genres that span hip hop to dance-punk. From 1–10pm you can hear from Alex the Astronaut, Mallrat, Trophy Eyes, WAAX, GRAACE, Clypso, Lex Deluxe and DJ sets from DZ Deathrays and Northeast Party House.

    Face summer head on with: Ray-Ban ($225).

  • 3
    Laneway Festival 2020
    The perfect pairing:

    It’s all change for Sydney’s Laneway Festival with a new inner-city location for the first time: The Domain. According to organisers, it’ll allow the festival to have bigger stages and better sound — and it will be a bit more accessible by public transport. Sure, it won’t have the charm of the Rozelle location but fans of dance-pop powerhouse Charli XCX, who is headlining this year’s event, won’t mind where the party starts.

    The British songwriter’s latest album Charli features everyone from Lizzo to Troye Sivan and Sky Ferreira. The Laneway Festivals will be her only Aussie shows, which is the same case for fellow international heavy hitter, American rapper Earl Sweatshirt.

    They’ll be joined on stage by Canadian electro artist — and TikTok sensation — BBNO$, New Zealand’s Benee, London crooner Col3trane and Irish post-punk band Fontaines DC. On the local front, you’ll be able to get down to DMA’s, Hatchie, Stella Donnelly, Hockey Dad, King Gizzard and the Lizard Gizard and 2019’s Triple J Hottest 100 winners, Ocean Alley.

    Face summer head on with: Oakley ($214.95).

  • 2
    Mardi Gras Fair Day 2020
    The perfect pairing:

    One of the first events in the Mardi Gras festival is a family-friendly, pup-friendly, eco glitter-friendly day in the park that’s inclusive, relaxed and absolutely free to attend.

    There’s always a fancy dress competition for doggos, 200 market stalls from the LGBTQI+ community, a main stage with leading queer performers in Australian music, plus the chance to shine brightly with 80,000-or-so of your nearest and dearest chosen family.

    It’s a landmark event on the Mardi Gras calendar, and everyone gets into the party spirit with spotlight-ready outfits that’ll take you into the night when the official after party kicks on.

    This year’s lineup features queer artists Bec Sandridge and Ngaiire — so it’s safe to say the organisers have excellent taste. Save the date and start planning what to wear for the event that launches a 17-day celebration of diversity, equality, justice and good times.

    Image: Jeffrey Feng Photography.

    Face summer head on with: Persol ($390).

  • 1
    Electric Gardens Festival 2020
    The perfect pairing:

    Now in its fifth year in Sydney, Electric Gardens Festival takes over Centennial Park for a day of electronic bangers from international DJs and Australian producers. This year’s lineup takes a UK garage and pop turn with ‘7 Days’ singer Craig David.

    The UK artist has come a long way since his breakout in 1999, featuring on Artful Dodger’s ‘Re-Rewind’. David will be bringing out his TS5 show, which combines his DJing skills with his chart-topping pop and R&B skills. He’s already flexed the high-energy set at Glastonbury and Tomorrowland, and now it’ll close out Electric Gardens on February 22.

    Joining him is London’s DJ EZ. Otis Roberts (as he’s known to his family) is a longstanding champion of UK garage, regularly appearing on the bill at Exposure, Twice As Nice, Garage Nation, Pure Silk, Sun City, Frisky and Club Sidewinder.

    Australia’s own What So Not is returning to Sydney after playing everywhere but for a long while. Swapping Paris nightclubs for our inner-city parklands, Chris ‘Emoh’ Emerson will be bringing wonky, bass-heavy tracks to this year’s fest. He’s joined by fellow Aussie, Shockone who recently released album A Dark Machine.

    There’s also ‘There For You’ UK duo Gorgon City, Berlin techno duo Pan-Pot, and Filth on Acid’s Reinier Zonneveld. As always, set times are generous so you can really get into the four-to-the-floor.

    Face summer head on with: Prada ($370).


Face your summer head on with new shades from Sunglass Hut.

Top image: BCS Imaging.

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