22 epic free events in Queensland in 2018
If you entered 2018 with a whole lotta enthusiasm but a bank account that refuses to let you enjoy yourself, don’t feel you’re destined for endless dates with your couch.
1. Quiksilver Pro and Roxy Pro Gold Coast
You don’t need to know how to surf to feel close to a surf god. Snag a spot at the iconic Snapper Rocks in Coolangatta for the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro, held over one weekend every March.
Check out the biggest names in surfing from Kelly Slater to Mick Fanning carving up the waves as they mark the beginning of the world championship tour.
When it’s on: 11 – 22 March, 2018
Perfect for: Anyone with a love of the ocean (and a soft spot for Point Break).
Event must-do: Snag a spot on the grassy hill of Snapper Rocks and watch the action from above.
2. Cooly Rocks On
With free entertainment, markets, a street parade, and retro cars to check out, there’s plenty of old-fashion fun to be had. Stay a little longer with this 48-hour guide to Coolangatta.
When it’s on: 6-10 June, 2018
Perfect for: Those who can remember the old days (or wish they were born earlier)!
Event must-do: Watch as perfectly-groomed canines strut their stuff in the Poodle Parade.
3. Groundwater Country Music Festival
Lace those boots, don that cowboy hat and say yee-haw! That’s how excited you’ll be to attend the Groundwater Country Music Festival on the Gold Coast, which won’t have you reaching into your pocket once.
Over three days in July, you can enjoy live country tunes from outdoor venues around Broadbeach, with over 100 shows from some of country music’s biggest names.
When it’s on: 27-29 July, 2018
Perfect for: Closet Billy Ray Cyrus fans and anyone who appreciates live music.
Event must-do: Wander the streets of Broadbeach to take in the entertaining fusion of country and coast and please remember, the festival streets are ”no drinking zones’.
4. Blues on Broadbeach Music Festival
Don’t feel blue! Head down to Broadbeach for four huge days of live music and entertainment that will, yup you guessed it, cost you nothing!
Wander the streets, parks, and venues of Broadbeach to hear the sweet sounds of the blues echo from the Blues on Broadbeach Music Festival.
When it’s on: 17-20 May, 2018
Perfect for: Everyone – the festival streets are ”no drinking zones’, however, some venues may have age restrictions.
Event must-do: Spread the love by checking out all 20 stages and venues of the festival.
5. TV Week Logie Awards Red Carpet
Get up close and score an autograph or two from the television stars of Australia at the TV Week Logie Awards red carpet, held at The Star Gold Coast. It’s the first time the awards are being held in Queensland, stealing the spotlight from its previous Melbourne digs.
Although getting in the doors will cost you, there’s plenty of brag-worthy selfie-ops outside that’ll convince your mates you got to hang with the stars, for free!
When it’s on: 1 July 2018
Perfect for: Anyone who has ever wished they were on The Bachelor.
Event must-do: Get a selfie with your Australian TV idol!
6. Bleach* Festival
The Gold Coast’s signature arts and cultural festival takes the form of Bleach*, where the city’s coastal lifestyle is celebrated through music, dance, performance, and art.
Running during the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, this year’s festival will be even bigger than usual, taking over the public spaces of Broadbeach and Surfers Paradise. Think circus performers, dancers from all genres, live music, and public art installations.
When it’s on: 29 March – 15 April, 2018
Perfect for: Art and culture lovers, and those enjoying GC2018.
Event must-do: Wander the bustling streets and be entertained for hours on end.
7. Festival 2018
In conjunction with Bleach*, Festival 2018 will be coming to the precincts of the Gold Coast during GC2018. As the official arts and culture entertainment, the festival has an epic lineup of public performances that will fill the streets for the duration of the games.
Not only is Festival 2018 held on the Gold Coast, it’s being spread across the other games cities including Brisbane, Townsville, and Cairns. You don’t have to have a games ticket to attend either – it’s free for the whole town!
When it’s on: 4-15 April, 2018
Perfect for: Art and culture lovers, and those enjoying the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Event must-do: Lose yourself in the musical production The Spirit of Churaki, inspired by Goodjingburra man and the Gold Coast’s first lifesaver, Churaki.
8. Swell Sculpture Festival
Over 10 days every September, a (free) visit to Currumbin Beach is like no other, with giant sculptures bursting out of the sand everywhere you turn.
The outdoor gallery is Swell Sculpture Festival, with over 50 one-of-a-kind sculpted works taking over the beach.
See what else you can get up to on the Gold Coast with this budget-friendly guide.
When it’s on: 14-23 September, 2018
Perfect for: Did anyone say perfect first date?
Event must-dos: Book into a free photography workshop, listen to live music, and grab a map and follow the sculptures along Currumbin Beach.
9. Surfers Paradise LIVE
Pack your festival (and beach) gear and head to Surfers Paradise – you’re going to a music festival!
There’s no need to break the piggy bank to attend Surfers Paradise LIVE, a three-day/four-night festival that showcases local and globally recognised artists including; Justice Crew, Reece Mastin, Daryl Braithwaite, Kate Cebrano, John Stevens and the legend himself, Jimmy Barnes.
Delivering a taste of different music genres from rock to pop, you can move around multiple stages to choose your own musical adventure through Surfers Paradise.
When it’s on: 3-6 May, 2018
Perfect for: All music lovers.
Event must-do: Stick around for the headlining acts to experience the height of the festival vibes.
10. Brisbane Festival
Experience Brisbane with festival buzz, colourful decorations, and culture bursting from all directions.
We’re talking about the Brisbane Festival, of course, when the city lights up with markets, live music and entertainment, and the grand Riverfire extravaganza (an epic fireworks display), which, we might add, is totally free to watch.
PS. Prep for epic fireworks shots with this photography guide.
When it’s on: 8-29 September, 2018
Perfect for: Everyone – there’s something for the whole family
Event must-do: Walk through the stalls at South Bank and watch the Brisbane sky light up at Riverfire.
11. World Science Festival Brisbane
Calling all budding scientists! Get ready to learn at the World Science Festival Brisbane where you’re in for a mind-blowing experience.
While most activities within the festival line-up come with a fee (like the world premiere of a live concert version of Close Encounters of the Third Kind or an intimate audience with Dr Karl), you’re free to wander the Street Science stalls in South Bank Parklands, to bend your mind on all things robots to drones, spiders to fossils and more.
When it’s on: 21-25 March, 2018
Perfect for: Anyone with a budding Sheldon and Leonard (a la Big Bang Theory) in their life.
Event must-do: Visit the Osmosis Stage to watch live music, science demonstrations and performances.
12. Regional Flavours
Get a taste of Queensland at Regional Flavours in South Bank in Brisbane, where the food requires some dosh (totally worth it), but entry, entertainment and demonstrations from experts and celebrity chefs won’t cost a dime.
Watch as drool-worthy masterpieces are made in front of your eyes, sample produce and meet the makers from all over Queensland, and kick back with a drink while watching some live music.
When it’s on: 21-22 July, 2018
Perfect for: Anyone with an appetite for top-notch local produce.
Event must-do: Score some cooking tips and recipes from the experts at one of the 50 demonstrations.
SOUTHERN QUEENSLAND COUNTRY
13. Stanthorpe Apple and Grape Harvest Festival
From food and wine markets and masterclasses, to apple activities like peeling competitions and taste testing, the Apple and Grape Harvest Festival serves up nothing but a good time.
When it’s on: 23 February – 4 March, 2018
Perfect for: Fruit afficianadoes of any kind.
Event must-do: Watch as celebrities and local identities battle it out in the Grape Crush competition.
14. Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers
While the food and wine festival isn’t free, you can wander amongst the colourful flowerbeds to your heart’s content, watch the Grand Central Floral Parade, and visit Sideshow Alley for some fairy floss and a ride or two.
Can’t get enough of the sweet florals? Check out this guide to find out more about the colourful carnival.
When it’s on: 21-30 September, 2018
Perfect for: The whole family – not just those with a penchant for pretty posies.
Event must-do: Surround yourself with the colours and fragrances of the flower displays in Queens Park.
15. Goomeri Pumpkin Festival
Home to the Great Australian Pumpkin Roll, the Goomeri Pumpkin Festival is sure to make you fall head over heels for the humble orange vegetable.
When it’s on: 27 May, 2018
Perfect for: Pumpkin lovers of all ages.
Event must-do: Cheer on your pumpkin at the Great Australian Pumpkin Roll.
16. Noosa Festival of Surfing
When it’s on: 10-17 March, 2018
Perfect for: Anyone who has ever wanted to throw up some ‘shakas’ and not look out of place doing it.
Event must-do: Catch the Body Bash divisions where competitors bust out plenty of wacky positions while surfing.
17. Mary Poppins Festival
You won’t need a spoonful of sugar here, as the free event is sweet enough with art installations, concerts, and performances taking over the town.
When it’s on: 29 June – 8 July, 2018
Perfect for: Families and Mary Poppins fans, young and old.
Event must-do: Snap a shot of you with everyone’s favourite nanny (the statue AND real-life versions).
18. Childers Festival
Closing down the Bruce Highway, the Childers festival takes over for a weekend of live music, entertainment, markets, and food stalls.
Want to know the best bit? It’s free entry all weekend. Add more flavour to your adventure with this foodie guide to the North Burnett area.
When it’s on: 28-29 July, 2018
Perfect for: Families
Event must-do: Take in the wacky performers wandering around the festival, from stilt-walkers to hula-hooping dancers.
19. Crush Festival
We’re certainly crushing (pun intended) on the 10-day program that brings people who love arts and culture to the town of Bundaberg.
The Crush Festival offers activities surrounding fashion, writing, film, music, art, and performance, with loads of no-cost sessions to enjoy.
Spend your free time exploring the town with this guide.
When it’s on: TBC
Perfect for: Families
Event must-do: Venture to Elliott Heads to explore the sand sculptures.
20. Captain Cook Festival
Unfortunately, entry into the festival grounds isn’t free. However, it doesn’t cost a cent to watch the colourful street parade on the Saturday, with a free fireworks display that night. Spend the rest of your time exploring the town with this guide.
When it’s on: 25-27 May, 2018
Perfect for: History lovers and anyone lured by the Town of 1770’s charms.
Event must-do: Check out the street parade, which follows a different theme every year.
TROPICAL NORTH QUEENSLAND
21. Yarrabah Band Festival
Held in the small town of Yarrabah, a 45-minute drive from Cairns, the fact that the Yarrabah Band Festival is on this list of free events is music to our ears.
As part of the larger annual Queensland Music Festival, the Yarrabah Band Festival features emerging artists from the local area.
When it’s on: November, 2018
Perfect for: Everyone
Event must-do: Wander the food stalls and explore the local art displays at the Yarrabah Arts and Cultural Precinct.
22. Easter in the Country
The five-day celebration offers nothing but free-to-watch, weird and wacky fun, from a mud derby to wife-carrying races.
When it’s on: 29 March – 2 April, 2018
Perfect for: Families looking for a dose of true-blue country living.
Event must-do: Watch the famous goat races and join in the Monster Egg Hunt.