The best events and festivals across Victoria this month

Words by Chester Ogilvie

Welcome to our Victorian events and festivals calendar, with all the live events, parties, celebrations and cultural gatherings happening across Victoria updated every month.

Back in the 1800s, 14-hour days, six days a week, was the norm for most Victorians. There was no sick pay, no holiday pay. And if your employer didn’t like the cut of your jib, you could be out on your rusty-dusty with no reason given. 

On April 21, 1851, the Victorian Stonemasons, who had become none too pleased with these shenanigans, were like ‘get nicked, mate, you’re getting our shirts out,” or something to that effect. They downed their tools and off they marched, along with other building trade members, to Parliament House. Banners were carried with ‘888’, representing the ideal day of eight hours of work, rest and play. The government agreed that things should change, and on May 12, 1856, around 700 people from 19 trades marched in celebration. And so we have Labour Day. Go Stonemasons, go.

Keep up with the latest music news, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

The Stonecutters, meanwhile, are a secret organisation that made Steve Guttenberg a star and rig every Oscar night.  

Enjoy your March festivals and events… 

Brunswick Music Festival

Brunswick – March 3-11

It’s a festival of life

It’s got everything but the kitchen sink as more than sixty shows will take place across 30+ venues at the Brunswick Music Festival. The Australian Art Orchestra will present a program of newly written works in solo, duo and trio formats. Everybody Rocks is a showcase of disabled musicians, allies and friends. The inaugural BFM Bowls Night features country hospitality with music from the likes of Don’t Thank Me, Spank Me. Earshift Music celebrates 15 years presenting Melbourne’s ground-breaking jazz stars. Music for the Mob is a day of First Nations music and art. Bulleke-bek Journey will see more than 15 venues host free music on Sunday, March 10.

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Ocean Film Festival

RMIT Capitol, Melbourne – March 6; Capitol Cinema, Warrnambool – March 7; Village Cinemas, Geelong – March 12; Astor Theatre, Melbourne – March 13; and Peninsula Cinemas, Rosebud – March 20  

Walk on the ocean, step on the stones

Explore the power and the beauty of the ocean without getting wet as the Ocean Film Festival sets off to inspire you to explore, respect, enjoy and protect our oceans. More than two hours of films will be screened, covering topics including ocean adventure and exploration, the oceanic environment, marine creatures, ocean related sports, coastal cultures and ocean lovers. 

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Alliance Français French Film Festival

Melbourne – March 6 through April 2

C’mon, Annie, let’s go to the movies. Let’s go see the stars

Escape to France and fall in love with the Alliance Français French Film Festival and its 41-film program. Experience films from the likes of directors Catherine Breillat, Michel Gondry and Albert Dupontel. Your program includes Last Summer, The Sitting Duck, Second Round, A Difficult Year, The Intouchables, Bonnard, Pierre & Marthe, Out of Season, Take a Chance on Me, The Book of Solutions, The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan, The Taste of Things, The Animal Kingdom and Iris and the Men.       

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ChillOut Festival

Daylesford – March 7-11

When I’m with you, I’m chillin’, I’m chillin’ 

Have you got a good pair of boots? The kind where you can dance all day while still looking stylish? Have you got some bling? The kind that will ring-a-ding-ding? ChillOut Festival is Australia’s premier regional LGBTQIA+ pride event and in 2024 the theme is ‘Boots & Bling’. Your program includes 100% Dance, Food & Wine Tour, Youth Muster in the Park, Rainbow Family Picnic, Australia’s Biggest Drag Story Time, Pool Party, Funk Soul Sista, Bush Dance, Carnival and Poof Doof.  

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Courtney Act to headline Daylesford ChillOut Festival 2024


Yarra River, Melbourne – March 7-11

All bound for Moomba land 

A little bit daggy but a whole lot of fun, many readers have a Moomba memory. From the Birdman Rally to the nightly fireworks to the Moomba Parade, it’s packed with free events that will put a smile on the faces of young and old alike.    

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Port Fairy Folk Festival

Port Fairy – March 8-11

Playing folk music from dawn to moonshine

Since the first Port Fairy was held on the back of a truck in 1977, the festival has kept on, well, truckin’. It’s just a lot bigger than it was. Your international line-up includes Cam Cole, Ralph McTell, Judy Collins, Luka Bloom, Cat Clyde, Lorraine Nash, Good Habits, Teho, Svavar Knútur and Quote the Raven. Your Aussie line-up includes The Maes, 19-Twenty, Kate Miller-Heidke, Samuel Curtis, Alice Skye, Billy Barker, Sons of the East, Sarah Carroll & the Big Fuss, The Settlement, Hussy Hicks, The Seven-Ups, Fiona Boyes & the Fortune Tellers and Fenn Wilson.  

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Pitch Music & Arts

Moyston – March 8-12

I got my time machine, got my little electronic dream 

Pitch Music & Arts describes what they do as a blend of sonic soundscapes and curated art selections. It is where self-discovery, creativity and inclusion meet, all to the soundtrack of techno, trance, house and more. Your line-up includes 999999999, Ahadadream, Aroha, Bertie, Bitter Babe, Chippy Nonstop, Clara Cuvé, Dan Shake, DJ Boring, Horse Meat Disco, I Hate Models, Jennifer Loveless, Kia, KiNK, Mama Snake, Moopie, Nene H, Patrick Mason, Sally C, Special Request, Spray, Tangela, THC, X-Coast and Yikes.      

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Harcourt Applefest

Harcourt – March 9

Oh apple tree, we wassail thee 

If you are someone whose strategy of keeping the doctor away is by the daily consumption of an apple, well, you may want to rethink that. But you are still welcome at Applefest. Enjoy a day of local produce, entertainment, market stalls, cookery competitions, Lego competitions, art shows, pie eating and more. 

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Lost Trades Fair

Bendigo Racecourse, Bendigo – March 9 & 10

Hear the hammer knockin’, see the anvil rockin’ 

While certain superstores have their convenience, there is something about an item created through old school ways that connects us to the object, and maker. Lost Trades Fair will host around 200 artisan makers specialising in metal, wood, leathers, textiles, decorative arts, stone, fibre, clay and glass. Watch hands at work and meet the makers. You can even have a crack yourself. 

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Golden Plains

Meredith Supernatural Amphitheatre – March 9-11

Golden years, gold, (wah-wah-wah) 

It’s the festival that is golden by name, golden by nature. Your line-up includes The Streets, Yussef Dayes, King Stingray, Black Country, New Road, Cymande, Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul, Wednesday, Regurgitator, Boris, RVG, Kutcha Edwards, WITCH, Braxe & Falcon, MAVI, Anz, MJ Lenderman, DJ Koco, Sarah Mary Chadwick, Elsy Wameyo, Soju Gang, Split System, The Belair Lip Bombs and Storytelling with Uncle Barry.    

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Ballarat Begonia Festival

Ballarat Botanical Gardens, Ballarat – March 9-11

All flowers in time bend towards the sun

Are you looking for a blooming good time? Well, have we got the hot ticket for you. This garden-based horticultural festival showcases Ballarat’s natural assets, including a unique and rare collection of begonias. Guests include Gardening Australia’s Hannah Moloney, River Cottage Australia’s Paul West and MasterChef finalist Courtney Roulston.    

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Ballarat Begonia Festival returns for the 2024 Labour Day long weekend

Unicorn Festival

Kryal Castle, Leigh Creek (Ballarat) – March 9-11

Them unicorns was hiding, playing silly games

The most majestic of all animals, the unicorn, is getting its own festival. Unicorn rides (pre-bookings only), unicorn petting, unicorn-themed food, face-painting and showbags will fill your heart with rainbows and joy. 

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Wooden Boat Festival

Geelong – March 9-11

If I had a wooden boat, I’d take you for a sail today 

In the words of Styx, come sail away with me. Celebrating both Australia’s maritime heritage and local history through the world of wooden boats, this bi-annual event has become a unique part of Geelong’s culture. View the event’s largest-ever exhibition of boats, try your hand at the Rough and Ready boat-building contest and take in a day of races, cultural displays, a vintage car show and more. 

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Festival of Small Halls

Deans Marsh Community Hall, Deans Marsh on March 12

And all down these small halls, live memories that made me 

While there is undoubtedly a joy in soaking up music at festivals, there is something special about a small venue. The Festival of Small Halls plucks artists from festivals and puts them on the road to play tiny halls in communities around Australia for an intimate performance. Svavar Knútur and The Maes perform here. 

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Reel Rock

Astor Theatre, Melbourne – March 12 & Rock Adventure Centre, Geelong – March 13

You pick the place and I’ll choose the time. And I’ll climb the hill in my own way

Looking down is a handy rock-climbing tip, but here it’s about looking up at the big screen. Sachi Amma in With My Heart, Angie Scarth-Johnson & Hazel Findlay in Yeah Buddy, Josh Wharton & Vince Anderson in Jirishanca and Matt Groom & Danyil Boldyrev in Climbing Never Die are the four offerings at the celebration of the climbing spirit that is Reel Rock.     

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Bendigo Pride Festival

Bendigo – March 13-24

I’ve got a heart full of pride

Dress up and come along for a strange journey as Nell Campbell introduces a special midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show to mark the arrival of 2024’s Bendigo Queer Film Festival. And that is just one of the highlights of 2024’s Bendigo Pride Festival. Other events include the Queer Country Art Exhibition, Pride in the Park, Queer Music Showcase and Glamaganza Extravaganza. 

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Melbourne Ukulele Festival

High Street, Northcote – March 15-17

I’m just sitting here playing my ukulele 

The Melbourne Ukulele Festival is sure to strike a chord with fans of the little instrument with the big warm sound. Your line-up includes Melbourne Ukulele Kollective, Rowland and the Howards, Bizarre Uke Triangle, Jan Bentley, The Seven-Legged Cows, Sage Marie, Fluke, Daisy Chains, Wandering Foxes, Yarra Yukers, Groovy Banana, Hopeless Romantics, Danni Thomas, The Hollows, The P-Ukes, Giddy, Craigie Marsh, Darken Uke, The John Lee Blues Band, Christine Kershaw, Christina Green, Bruce Watson and Bullied into Happiness.    

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Melbourne Gin Festival

The Timber Yard, Port Melbourne – March 15-17

Got that gin smile, love my gin nights 

Featuring sixty craft distilleries, the Melbourne Gin Festival is a win for gin. Your ticket gives you a choice of complimentary samples and a tote bag, plus access to pick the brains of makers. A Father Daughter Masterclass with Gavin and Amy Shaw of HM Gin, The Farmer’s Wife Masterclass with Kylie Sepos and Nosferatu Masterclass with Ashley Mellor also feature. 

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Aireys Inlet Open Mic Festival

Aireys Inlet – March 15-17

To the extreme I rock a mic like a vandal

The Aireys Inlet Open Mic Festival reaches adulthood in 2024 as it celebrates its 18th with headliners Matt Walker & Ashley Davies, Henry Wagons and Kylie Auldist. Other treats include the festival’s first international act, Cambodian Space Project, and the Push FReeZA stage. Other performers include Resignators, Troy Williamson, Jungle Jim Smith, Victoriana Gaye Trio, Kerry Simpson, Daniel Aaron, Beans, Owsley and Sand Pebbles. 

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Aireys Inlet Music Festival shines a spotlight on local artists and coastal charm in 2024

Red Hot Summer Tour

Victoria Park, Newington on March 16

Oh, to the top, we are red hot

Without Suzi Quatro, there would be no Joan Jett. There would be no Chrissie Hynde. Rock and roll just wouldn’t be the same. But, is it too hot for leather? Head on down to Devil Gate Drive for a RHST featuring Suzi Quatro, Cheap Trick, John Stevens, The Angels, Baby Animals, The Screaming Jets and Chocolate Starfish. 

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Catani Gardens, St Kilda – March 16 & Victoria Park, Newington on March 17

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy 

Summer has passed us by, but the summer vibes are still going strong. Your line-up is James Bay, Matt Corby, Ziggy Alberts, Thelma Plum, Kita Alexander and Mia Wray. 

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Melbourne Celtic Festival

The Mission to Seafarers, Melbourne – March 16 & 17

And I never want to hide my Celtic pride 

Last year’s sold-out festival was such a craic, that they’ve decided to do it again. Held over the St Patrick’s Day weekend, this is a foot-stompin’ festival of heart-warming spirit. Your line-up includes Maria Forde, Claymore, Play it Martha, Bhan Tre, Saoirse, The Bushwhackers, Austral, Big Fiddle Little Fiddle, Chloe Martharu, Matthew Horsley, A Good Thing, Emma-Kate Tobia, Kathryn Clements, Blairgardie, Jonathan Quay and the Victoria Welsh Male Choir.   

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Bendigo Showgrounds, Bendigo – March 16 & 17

Eat meat, be happy 

Meat as far as the eye can see. Enjoy eats from Bluebonnet Barbeque, Brisket & Brawn BBQ, Heat Beads Meet Wagon, Get Smoked, Carolina Smoke, Hangry Wolf BBQ, Red Gum BBQ, RG Food Truck, Flamin Grillas Low & Slow BBQ, 2 Smokin’ Arabs, Fancy Hanks, Smokestack BBQ, Phat Boyz BBQ, Brazilian Flame Barbeque, Hoy Pinoy and Black Iron Smokers. That’s your meat, here are the beats. Your line-up includes Chayce Beckham, James Johnston, Zac & George, The Wolfe Brothers, This Way North, Casey Barnes, Amy Sheppard, Fanny Lumsden, Southbound XO, Lane Pittman and The Buckleys. There will also be beard and mo competitions, the Rod and Custom Rumble and more.    

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Bendigo Sustainability Festival

Garden for the Future, White Hills – March 17

Waste not, want not, pick it up

It’s easy being green. Run by the Bendigo Sustainability Group, the Bendigo Sustainability Festival aims to showcase the best in sustainability living products, programs, goods and services available throughout Central Victoria. Your Guest Speaker will be Craig Reucassel. 

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Ballan Autumn Festival

Ballan – March 17

And you in your autumn sweater

Local culture, creativity and community combine for one of the oldest regional fairs in the Moorabool Shire. The full line-up hadn’t been released at the time of writing, but it should be good to go now. Sorry about that, folks.  

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Deans Marsh Festival

Deans Marsh Memorial Reserve, Deans Marsh – March 17

Well I was born in a small town. And I can breathe in a small town 

A celebration of the Otway hinterland, the Deans Marsh Festival is jam-packed with family-friendly entertainment and small town hospitality. A wide range of regional market stalls, the SPaRK art exhibition, jumping castle, pony rides and face painting are all on the menu. Meanwhile, the Country Fete Games deliver the Deans Marsh Gift, Dog Jump and the infamous sheaf toss. 

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Cultural Diversity Week

Throughout Victoria – March 18-24

Take a look around, you will see it’s true. You’re a lot like me, I’m a lot like you

Victoria is home to some 290 spoken languages and 314 different ancestries. Cultural Diversity Week is a celebration of this. In 2024, the theme is ‘Our Shared Stories – Coming Together’. Everyone has a story, and these stories forge connection and understanding.   

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Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne – March 21

Yeah, tonight I’m gonna rock ya 

It’s heavy. It’s loud. And they ain’t going to turn it down. It’s Knotfest. Your line-up is Pantera, Lamb of God, Disturbed, Halestorm, The Hu, Asking Alexandria, Wage War, Thy Art is Murder, Escape the Fate, Skindred, Speed, Windwaker, Brand of Sacrifice and King Parrot. The Knotfest Museum also returns, celebrating 25 years of Slipknot. 

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Jerkfest 9

Barwon Club Hotel, Geelong – March 23

Come on, do the jerk 

Finally a festival comes along where jerks from all walks of life can come together without fear of judgement. Your line-up is The Uranium Club, R.M.F.C., Wireheads, Straightjacket Nation, Silicone Prairie, Tee Vee Repairman, Cured Pink, The Native Cats, Howard Eynon, J. McFarlane’s Reality Guest, Alien Nosejob, The Living Eyes, Parsnip, Primo!, Gut Health, Wet Kiss, Cloud Ice 9, Nightclub, Ajak Kwai, Alex Macfarlane, Kong, Goutlaw, The Stinks (Kinks covers), Big Tea (debut show) and Warttmann Inc. DJ.  

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Castlemaine Idyll

lot19, Castlemaine – March 23

Playin’ at the talent show, come on along, here we go

Kids Karaoke and an extended running time have been introduced for 2024’s Castlemaine Idyll, the little show that brings out big talent. Running for more than a decade, it serves as the primary fundraiser for lot19. This year you can enjoy 30 performers. Clare Bowditch and Casey Bennetto are your guest judges, while 94.9 MainFM will broadcast the event. 

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Kryal Castle, Leigh Creek (Ballarat) – March 23

Homegrown’s alright with me, homegrown is the way it should be 

Home is where the art is. Your Homegrown Sounds of Victoria line-up is Slowly Slowly, Kisschasy, The Getaway Plan, Press Club and TOOSLOW.

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Clunes Booktown Festival

Clunes – March 23 & 24

Nursery rhymes, fairy tales, picture books. Any kind of story will do

Like a book you can’t put down, the Clunes Booktown Festival celebrates the written word from dawn to dusk. More than one hundred stall holders will take part in this two-day festival of author and artist talks, workshops and live entertainment.   

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Geelong Comic Book Fair

Geelong West Town Hall – March 24

Comic book characters never grow old, evergreen heroes whose stories were told 

They’ve got comic books. They’ve got toys. They’ve got pop culture collectables. They’ve got everything long-time collectors and new enthusiasts need for their collection, big or small. Best of all, admission is free.  

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Melbourne International Comedy Festival

Melbourne – March 27 through April 21

Oh, let your laughter fill the room 

How do you work out the mass of a Red Hot Chili Pepper? Give it a weigh, give it a weigh, give it a weigh now. It is jokes like that that thankfully won’t be heard at the MICF, the comedy festival with the lot. International performers include David O’Doherty, Adam Kay, Ed Byrne, Helen Bauer, Des Bishop, Gabby Anderson, Abby Howells, John Kearns, Alan McElroy, Bec Sandys, Jodie Sloan, Kanan Gill, Ting Lim, Viggo Venn and Urooj Ashfaq. Local performers include Sam Simmons, Aaron Chen, Dane Simpson, Claire Hooper, Anna Dooley, Josh Thomas, Aaron Gocs, Felicity Ward, Akmal, Grace Jarvis, Grace Zhang, Sam Bowden, The Umbilical Brothers, Tom Gleeson and Uma Dobia.     

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Bendigo Easter Festival

Bendigo – March 29 through April 1

Do the Easter bunny bop, bop

80,000. That is the number of Easter eggs that will be hidden for the Good Friday Easter Egg Hunt, one of many fun-filled events at the long-running Bendigo Easter Festival. You can also enjoy the Awakening of the Dragon, the AC Torchlight Procession, the Sherridon Homes Gala Parade, the rotary market and more throughout Rosalind Park and surrounding streets.  

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Here Comes the Sun

Torquay Common, Torquay on March 30

And I say, it’s alright

George Harrison wrote Here Comes the Sun after skipping a day of doing business and catching up with an old friend. So if it’s good enough for old George, we suggest you take a break from the grind (if you can) and enjoy the sounds of Ocean Alley, Ball Park Music, Ruby Fields, Jack Botts, South Summit and Clews.  

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