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Sand Safari Arts Festival

2019 Cultural Events

Samantha Morris | December 2018

In recent years, the Gold Coast has been flexing its muscle in the cultural events space.

While Bleach* is the city’s flagship event for art and culture, genre-specific events such as Blues on Broadbeach and Buskers by the Creek continue to grow in terms of national and international reputation as well as audience attendance. There’s no question events are big business on the Gold Coast – and our cultural events are helping put the City on the map for cultural tourists.

In one year alone, Bleach* Festival created opportunities for 781 creative workers, 514 of whom are from the Gold Coast. That same year they attracted more than 72,000 people to events and had an economic impact of $6.6 million. In the same year, Blues on Broadbeach drew a record crowd of more than 166,000 people over the four-day event. The economic impact was estimated to be $23.9 million.

2019 is shaping up to be a seminal year for the city’s cultural offering. With the Cultural Precinct’s development, the new amphitheatre and black box theatre are on line and work on the Green Bridge has begun. HOTA Homegrown is working with Gold Coast Film Festival, The Farm, The Walls and Bleached Arts to bring some of the world’s most engaging artists and performers to the city.

And it’s not all performance and music that draw the crowds. SWELL Sculpture Festival returns in 2019 for its 17th annual event, the Burleigh Single Fin – celebrating boards between 35 and 50 years old is back in January and Surfers Paradise will again host Sand Safari, bringing inflatable art and sand creations to the streets and beaches of the Gold Coast’s favourite beach village.

There’s exhibitions which showcase pieces from the City Collection, there’s rock ‘n’ roll, film, music awards, super heroes and photography. There’s even cultural and holiday programming just for the junior culture vultures.

Check out the City’s major cultural events:


1 December 2018
Mayor’s Christmas Carols
Sing along to your favourite Christmas tunes at the seventh annual Mayor’s Christmas Carols at Broadwater Parklands, presented by Mercedes-Benz Gold Coast.

With fun for the whole family the kids can be the first to see Santa this Christmas and sing along to their favourite Carols and PJ Masks Christmas Show.

The night will also boast delicious food trucks and spectacular fireworks finale. Embrace the Gold Coast Christmas spirit under the stars at the Mayor’s Christmas Carols. Interactive kids’ fun commences at 2pm with the main show kicking off at 5pm.

7 December 2018
Ministry of Sound: Orchestrated
HOTA, Home of the Arts kicks off summer with an outdoor concert celebration of the most loved dance tracks of the past 25 years. Ministry of Sound’s Orchestrated rearranges, remixes and reimagines classic dance music with a live symphony orchestra, Groove Terminator, and guest vocalists: Grammy and ARIA Award nominated singer Sam Sparro (‘Black and Gold’), Alison Limerick (‘Where Love Lives’) and early 90s phenomenon Crystal Waters (‘Gypsy Woman – She’s Homeless’ and ‘100% Pure Love’).

8 December 2018 – 17 February 2019
Let There Be Rock!

Let there be rock!, a forthcoming gallery exhibition at HOTA Home of the Arts takes inspiration from AC/DC’s boisterous album of the same name.

For three decades from the 1970s to 1999, the Gold Coast was a hot-spot on the bucket-list of Australia’s live music touring circuit. With iconic venues like The Playroom, Bombay Rock, The Patch, Jet Club and Fisherman’s Wharf, the Coast played host to some of the hottest and most notorious international and Australian music acts; as well as some of our best local talent. From The Ramones and Cold Chisel at The Playroom, to INXS and The Go-Betweens at Bombay Rock; and Nirvana and The Violent Femmes at “Fisho’s”; this exhibition celebrates the heyday of hard-core rock and entertainment through stories, memorabilia, photos and footage.

27 December – 1 January
New Year’s Carnival & NYE Fireworks
Surfers Paradise will host a colourful carnival of rides and attractions for all ages across five days in the lead up to 2019. The foreshore will come alive each afternoon from 3.00pm between Thursday 27 December and Tuesday 1 January, with thrilling rides and fun activities for children of all ages, including bungee trampolines, a climbing wall and interactive play zone, a swinging pirate ship, a cup and saucer ride, inflatables and a bunch of take home crafts such as colouring in and play dough for the little ones. The carnival culminates in firework displays on new year’s evening igniting the beach with two displays to take place at Surfers Paradise beach at 8.00pm and midnight.


4 – 6 January
Burleigh Single Fin Festival
The Burleigh Boardriders Club Annual Single Fin Festival celebrates the surfing, surfboards and the times of the single fin surfboard era – that is boards that are between 35 and 50 years old. Some of the world’s best surfers compete at this event with Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson, Dave Rastovich, Gary “Kong” Elkerton, Cheyne Horan, Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew, Jay “Bottle” Thompson, Brendan Margieson and Bede Durbidge all making appearances in past years.

8 – 24 February
Sand Safari Arts Festival
The sands and streets of Surfers Paradise will come alive in a celebration of sand, sea and sport-inspired art over this 17-day free event which incorporates the Australian Sand Sculpting Championships, drawing thousands of spectators to admire the country’s most talented sculptors, as they intricately carve life-sized masterpieces over the course of the weekend. Visitors are invited to interact with the sculptors as they work on their quest to create life sized ‘Treasures of the Sea’.

17 – 28 Apr
Bleach* Festival
Bleach* Festival is the signature annual multi-arts festival on the Gold Coast, shining a light on the city’s unique creativity and culture, presenting the Gold Coast in a new way, to new audiences both locally and internationally. The Festival spans the entire city with a program of major musical concerts and events, large contemporary dance productions, travelling shows on kayaks, beach sleepovers as well as a showcase of the city’s inspiring contemporary artists, programmed with national and international collaborators and guests. The full program will be released early 2019.

3 – 14 April 2019
Gold Coast Film Festival
Gold Coast Film Festival, the city’s flagship screen culture event, brings two big weeks of film fun to the Gold Coast. The 12-day event features red carpet premieres, Q+As with directors and stars, industry workshops, SIPFEST short film festival on Surfers Paradise beach, Gold Coast Movie Locations Tours, free family events and more.

27 – 29 April
Gold Coast Superhero Weekend
With an audience of over 26,000 over the three day festival, this supercharged Broadbeach weekend includes the Supanova Pop Culture Expo, Gold Coast Film Festival events and a tonne of action packed activities for the young and young at heart.

2 May
Gold Coast Music Awards
Gold Coast Music Awards recognises and rewards exceptional Gold Coast talent. This is the event’s fourth year and in 2018 it will open the Surfers Paradise LIVE festival by rolling out the red carpet along Surfers Paradise beach and presenting the very best in Gold Coast music live on a massive stage with the Pacific Ocean as its backdrop. Nominations for Gold Coast Music Awards open in January with winners announced on the night.

2 – 5 May
Surfers Paradise LIVE
Surfers Paradise LIVE is an award winning four day music festival in the heart of Surfers Paradise. The event opens with Gold Coast Music Awards on Thursday 2 May before continuing over three big days and nights and showcasing Gold Coast’s best emerging talent alongside Aussie rock royalty. The final major headline act will be announced along with the full lineup early in 2019.

16 – 19 May
Blues on Broadbeach
In 2019 the multi-award winning Blues On Broadbeach returns for four days of quality international, national and local blues and roots music. And the best part? It’s absolutely free. Blues On Broadbeach will welcome Canned Heat and Eric Bibb from the USA and a whole stack of international, Australian and local artists.

1 June
Surfers Paradise celebrates its passion for pyrotechnics with SeaFire, a night of hypnotic performance and thrilling fireworks right above Surfers Paradise Beach. The event brings together some of the world’s leading pyrotechnic designers and producers to create a world class event.

5 – 9 June
Cooly Rocks On
Music, dancing, cars, nostalgia and good old-fashioned family fun are all coming back for Cooly Rocks On 2019. Events include the Show ‘n’ Shine, Poodle Parade, Retro Markets, Dance Championships, Miss Cooly Rocks On™ and the signature Street Parade. Over five action packed days, Coolangatta and Tweed will come to life to celebrate everything we love about the 50s and 60s

13 – 22 July
VIVA Surfers Paradise
Experience a rush of nostalgia and be transported back in time as homage is paid to some of the world’s greatest music legends at VIVA Surfers Paradise. Re-live the music, memories and moments that have played a pivotal role in shaping our music history over ten days of free and ticketed events which include the world’s best tribute artists to the king of rock ‘n’ roll, Elvis Presley. From rock ‘N’ roll to blues and soul revival and Beatlemania, visitors to Surfers Paradise of all ages will enjoy the classic music on offer across a variety of live acts.

27 – 29 July
Groundwater Country Music Festival
Previously known as Broadbeach Country Music Festival, Groundwater Country Music Festival, is a three-day event which takes over the streets and venues of Broadbeach and has rapidly grown to be one of the country’s most popular country music festivals. This event is absolutely free and suitable for all ages.

13 – 22 September
SWELL Sculpture Festival
SWELL Sculpture Festival returns in 2019 for its 17th annual event with sculptures from near and far adorning Currumbin Beach and its stunning foreshore. With a program of live music events, hands-on art experiences and sculptures big and small, SWELL is a highlight on the City’s cultural calendar showcasing 50 artists over ten big days and nights.

October (TBC)
Buskers by the Creek
The sixth annual Buskers by the Creek will once again take over Currumbin Creek for 2019 with hundreds of buskers from across Australia descending on the Gold Coast. The event has fast become a Gold Coast favourite with musicians, circus performers, children and families, daredevils, a floating half-pipe, fire performers, acrobats and freaks of all kinds throwing themselves into the art of busking to the delight of tens of thousands of people over previous festivals. The two day event also features a Battle of the Buskers with winners taking home prizes including cash, paid performances and travel.

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