Forget Tinder; meet your match at these 8 must-do events
Stop looking for love in all the wrong places! (We’re looking at you, Tinder).
According to recent research, live events – whether music festivals or sporting spectacles – will super-charge your chances of finding true love.
That’s the skinny from a 2015 Eventbrite survey of more than 1,000 Australians, which reveals 49% met ‘a significant other’ at live events. A further 5% of respondents got engaged and 4% exchanged vows at a live event.
So, give dating apps the flick and boot scoot, bop or backflip (yoga-style) along to these 8* of the best loved-up Queensland events.
1. Must’er been love
On numbers alone, the Gympie Music Muster (23-26 August 2018) leads the field of loved-up events. Organisers have lost count of love matches, with this year’s 35th-anniversary souvenir program featuring a seemingly endless line-up of couples from across Queensland and Australia who have met, dropped to one knee or said “I do” at the festival.
Among them are Michelle Storey and Clinton Anderson from Woodford, who met at the Gympie Music Muster in 2006, married in front of the festival’s Crowbar seven years later and introduced their six-week-old daughter, Ariya, to the feel-good shindig in 2014.
Two years earlier, Tracy and Darren Cummings from New South Wales lassoed their favourite country music singer Lee Kernaghan into a wedding snap at the Muster.
Even multi-award winning country music superstar Troy Cassar-Daley met his missus at the event in 1993, proposing in the same spot, backstage, two years later. He returns this year, alongside John Williamson, Kasey Chambers, The McClymonts, Beccy Cole and Gympie’s own Caitlyn Shadbolt (who made Top 5 on X Factor Australia 2014 and won the 2016 Commercial Radio Australia New Artist to Nashville Scholarship).
Love Advice: Make eye contact – 93% of surveyed Aussies give a big thumbs-up to ‘locking eyes for the first time’ over receiving a friend request via social media.
2. Lasso your soulmate
Hold your horses! If you’re a sucker for a cowboy romance novel, Nicholas Sparks’ The Longest Ride has nothing on real-life love stories forged at Mount Isa Mines Rotary Rodeo (9-12 August 2017).
Among them, 2013 Rodeo Queen entrant, Irena Paznikov, 27, who met the love of her life at Australia’s richest rodeo – also the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere – with wedding plans afoot for next year. Her fiancé dropped to one knee at the 2014 event, having pre-arranged a congratulatory announcement by country music trio, The McClymonts.
For all the single ladies, Irena confirms cowboys are true gentlemen, with a long line-up of talent at this year’s Mount Isa Mines Rotary Rodeo; both in the ring and on stage for ‘Rock the Rodeo’, including Toowoomba’s country-rock artist, Mick Lindsay.
Love Advice: Spot someone you fancy? Be brave and pluck up the courage to approach someone (only 30% of single Aussies have had the guts to say ‘Hi’ at a live event).
3. Can’t hurry love?
In 2016, Australia’s biggest international country and roots festival, CMC Rocks QLD, took cupid by the horns, hosting its first ‘Sweethearts Saloon’ speed-dating night. The initiative, which in its first year drew more than 600 requests for just 50 seats, is back bigger and better than ever in 2018 at Ipswich’s Willowbank Raceway, where none other than US Country Music Sweetheart Kelsea Ballerini and Australia’s own Morgan Evans fell in love. Need we say more?
Did you know? Australian music history was made in 2016 when CMC Rocks QLD became the first country music festival to sell out in the history of the nation. Crowds exceeded 45,000 over three days, with the line-up featuring international superstars of the ilk of Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line, Lee Brice, Brantley Gilbert, Kip Moore and Kelsea Ballerini.
Love Advice: 97% of surveyed Aussies prefer kissing vs swiping on Tinder (no contest really), with 32% kissing someone they met a live event.
4. Move over Woodstock!
Lucky in love or not, Woodford Folk Festival, now in its 32nd year, formed the basis of research that shows attending a music festival is linked to heightened happiness and well-being.
University of Queensland researchers, Associate Professor Julie Ballantyne, Professor Roy Ballantyne and Associate Professor Jan Packer discovered festival attendees not only reported feeling a sense of happiness but also felt more positive about life and inspired to do something creative.
Further, those who attended a music festival for multiple days had a more positive experience than those who attended for one. The research, published in 2014, was conducted at the Woodford Folk Festival.
Love advice: Strike up a conversation – 97% of surveyed Aussies prefer initiating a conversation to liking a photo on social media.
5. Set your heart racing
Whatever your fancy: feathered fascinators or Akubras, the Birdsville Races (31 August-1 September 2018) transforms a dusty Queensland town of around 120 residents to 10,000 for the Melbourne Cup of the Outback.
The two-day racing carnival – which stakes its claim among Australia’s most iconic events – has become something of a bucket list experience, no doubt setting many hearts a flutter in the one-pub town. Strut your stuff track-side or pull up a pew at the Birdsville Hotel.
6. Love in Lycra
If life’s a marathon, there’s no better place to check out the talent than the Noosa Triathlon Multi Sport Festival (31 October-4 November 2018). It’s recognised as Australia’s largest triathlon and multi-sport festival of its kind in the world – not to mention the largest Olympic distance triathlon on the planet. What’s more, in 2018, IRONMAN’s new kid on the block, Runaway Noosa Marathon (26 May 2018), doesn’t put a foot wrong, matching heart-pumping action with tantalising food and wine!
Nor forgetting, of course, that Noosa is arguably one of the most romantic places on Earth, blessed with an average 300 days of sunshine a year and described by travel bible Lonely Planet as “a swanky resort town with a stunning natural landscape of crystalline beaches and tropical rainforests”.
Love Advice: Get those digits – 35% of surveyed Aussies exchanged phone numbers at a live event.
7. Flowers for your sweetheart
What’s not to love about the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers (21-30 September 2018), a celebration of flowers, food and wine? ‘Eat, Laugh, Play, Stay’ is this year’s motto as the Garden City plots its 69th year hosting Australia’s longest-running annual horticultural event.
Staged in one of the most fertile regions in Australia, the 10-day event celebrates spring in all its glory – a time for love (just ask the birds and the bees). It also sprouts a stellar live music line-up, and last year featured headliners like Birds of Tokyo, Tim Finn, The Whitlams and Montaigne. Keep your eyes peeled for their 2018 lineup announcement later this year.
Love Advice: Feel the love – 24% of surveyed Aussies held hands upon meeting at a live event.
8. Share the love
The best things in life are free! Playing tag-team to the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (4-15 April), Festival 2018 truly shares the love with a free 12-day arts and cultural program featuring acclaimed theatrical productions, world-class musicians, dance and physical theatre, interactive art installations and indigenous arts.
The program spans the length of the coast, with hubs in Broadbeach and Surfers Paradise operating day and night. Celebrations are also planned in Brisbane, Townsville and Cairns. Super-sizing the action, Bleach* Festival (28 March – 15 April 2018) runs in tandem. Now in its fifth year, it promises the ultimate and unexpected ‘first date’ venue: everything from street parties to live music, pop up art installations and exhibitions, outdoor film programs and more.
Hot tip: 95% of surveyed Aussies prefer introducing someone to their friends over posting a selfie with a date.
Love can strike anywhere
Whatever your passion – from Supercar racing to golf tournaments or medieval enactments – meet your soulmate #IRL at one of Queensland’s live events.
Did you meet your significant other at a Queensland event? Share your story below in the comments.
*Not only is the number 8 considered very lucky in China, it also doubles as the infinity symbol; identified by the mathematically-gifted Pythagoras – way back in 6th Century BC – as (lip)smacking of love and friendship. Seriously, who wants to mess with that kind of equation?