What's on in Australia for 2020

Pencil in Dark Mofo, the Tasmanian midwinter festival like no other.
Pencil in Dark Mofo, the Tasmanian midwinter festival like no other.

NSW

Opera

Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour returns with Verdi's La Traviata from 27 March to 26 April. The extravaganza on Mrs Macquaries Point will be anchored by some of Opera Australia's big names and directed by Constantine Costi. The event will appeal to both opera buffs and newbies.

Rock music

The Under the Southern Stars 2020 rock carnival comes to Newcastle on 19 April. The festival stars international and local bands, including Live, Bush, the Stone Temple Pilots, Rose Tattoo and the legendary Electric Mary. The summer musical festival has seen legends like Jimmy Barnes, You Am I, Eskimo Jo and more perform.

Whale festival

To showcase the southern migration of humpback and other whales, visit the annual Eden Whale Festival held over the last weekend in October. Here you can catch sight of these magnificent whales making their way down NSW's southern coast. The best vantage point is from Twofold Bay where you can watch from the shore. There will be a street parade, friendly stallholders selling local products and live music.

Country music

Australia's largest music festival, Tamworth Country Music Festival, will be held 17-26 January. The event has been running for 50 years and will have an impressive line-up of country artists, including Troy Cassar-Daley, Fanny Lumsden, Lee Kernaghan, The McClymonts and Melinda Schneider.

Victoria

Tennis

Head to Melbourne for the best summer of tennis at the Australian Open from 20 January to 2 February. Every year, the AO gets bigger and more intense. Watch super-star champions Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and our own tennis darling Ash Barty.

Food and wine

Regional food providores and wine producers will gather at the annual Melbourne Food and Wine Festival from the 19 March 2020. Over 10 days, some of the world's best chefs, including Alison Roman, Fuchsia Dunlop, Helen Goh and Michael Solomonov, will join local big hitters such as Josh Niland, Ben Shewry and Andrew McConnell to showcase their cooking skills.

Comedy

One of the most popular events in the global comedy circuit, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival starts on 25 March and runs through to 19 April. Comedians of all shapes and sizes take to theatres, pubs, clubs and broom cupboards citywide during the festival, shining a spotlight on the silly, the serious, the heart-breaking and the hilarious.

Garden show

Over five days, visitors from all around the world flock to the Southern Hemisphere's largest horticultural festival, the Melbourne Flower and Garden Show. Past stand-outs have included: the Great Hall of Flowers; the Boutique Garden and Shop Window Floral Design competitions; RMIT fashion design students' showcase; DIY floral workshops with the Melbourne Flower School; and Make and Take sessions with power-tool specialist Ryobi. The garden show starts on 25 March.

Regatta

The annual Festival of Sails in Geelong will take place over the Australia Day weekend, 25-27 January. It's the largest keelboat regatta in the Southern Hemisphere and the free event always attracts many families down to the waterfront. There is live music, kids entertainers, spectacular waterski and flyboard demos, family-friendly activities, rides, food trucks and market stalls and culminates with a spectacular fireworks display.

Queensland

Touch football

One of Australia's touch football knockouts, the Bundaberg Cup, will be held at Branyan over the first weekend in February. Teams from around the country will be competing to win Australia's richest touch-football prize-money purse to be shared across various men's, women's and mixed divisions. The sporting event is a favourite with the locals.

Surfing

The biggest Queensland surf event, the Gold Coast Open, will be held from 5 to 9 February. There will be non-stop action and the chance for fans to rub shoulders with the world's most talked-about surfers. There will be live bands, skate-pipe jams and sunrise yoga sessions at Burleigh Heads. Go wave chasing or paddle around for surf swells.

More surfing

Surfers often head to the Noosa Festival of Surfing to hone their skills. This year, the festival will be held from 22 February to 1 March and has been billed as the surfing buffet for everyone. The festival also includes the World Surf League Noosa Longboard Open.

Supercars

The iconic, high-octane Supercars Vodafone Gold Coast 600 returns to the streets of Surfers Paradise from October 30. Here you can watch world-class drivers put the pedal to the metal as they battle it out over three days of intense racing. There is a range of different packages for rev heads, ranging from grandstand seats to swanky corporate boxes.

Food and wine

Just an hour from Brisbane, the Scenic Rim Eat Local Week is celebrating its 10th anniversary. The program includes farm-gate events, winery tours and food stories of the Scenic Rim region. You'll get to eat your way through long-table lunches, cooking classes and exclusive dining offers. Visitors will also learn about local livestock. The event runs from 27 June to 5 July and celebrates Queensland's wonderful food.

Tasmania

Food and wine

The King Island Long Table Festival returns to the Apple Isle from 2 to 7 April. The farm-to-feast experience will involve picking, cooking and eating some of Tassie's best produce. Highlights include a divers' masterclass and feast where you can join chef David Hall from Pure South Dining who will share his techniques on all things crayfish. There's also an orchard-to-platter trail to visit a cattle farm, orchard and the King Island Dairy to learn why the cheese is so delicious. You will taste local bites and a cheese platter with local beer and wine.

Film festival

Movie buffs should visit the Cradle Mountain Film Festival to be held 3-5 April. Now in its sixth year, there will be a varied program of green-carpet screenings and Q&As in the Forest Yurt Lounge and Cinema. The line-up will include family films, Mountain Huts film trail, Tasmanian short adventure films and workshops. In between, you can do outdoor activities such as canyoning, running, yoga and cold-water therapy.

Midwinter festival

If you fancy craft ciders, locally sourced produce and rolling in the hay, then head to Willie Smith's Apple Shed in the Huon Valley. The celebration of the island's apple-picking history will have you "wassailing" - shouting, banging drums and giving gifts to the trees - an old tradition of scaring evil spirits from the orchard to bring on a bumper crop. The Huon Valley Mid-Winter Fest will be held 10-12 July.

Dark Mofo

As the long winter sets in, 12 nights of darkness will descend on Hobart when Dark Mofo kicks off on 10 June. The midwinter festival is like no other. Cult fans will be able to explore offbeat theatre productions, light shows and visit much-talked-about museum Mona. Held in the lead-up to the winter solstice, some left-field performances and art displays can be quite confronting. The Nude Solstice Swim in the freezing waters of Sandy Bay usually attracts 2000 brave swimmers.