Comprehensive Guide to Gold Coast Popular Events

Comprehensive Guide to Gold Coast Popular Events

29 Jun 2023

If the Gold Coast is on your holiday wish list, then it makes sense to plan your stay around some of the incredible annual events that bring this city to life. Whether you're a lover of live music, a cultural connoisseur, or a passionate sports fan, you'll find something on the Gold Coast's annual event calendar to float your boat.

Pacific Air Show - August

The skies over Surfers Paradise will come alive with the thunderous rumbling of jets this August when Australia’s biggest and most spectacular air show comes to town. Pacific Airshow Gold Coast is a three-day festival of incredible choreographed aerial displays, breathtaking aviation stunts and a dazzling party atmosphere on the sands of Surfers Paradise. Incorporating an epic entertainment program along with all the adrenaline-packed arial action, this family-friendly event is free for all, but there are ticketed areas where you can watch the action from a beachfront pavilion with premium offerings for a VIP experience. 

Free Music Festivals

Live music in the great outdoors is something the Gold Coast does exceptionally well. Our sublime sub- tropical climate and unique open air venues make for a magical musical experience. There’s not much that beats rocking out to your favourite band on a beach, the sand between your toes, dancing under the stars. Or a sundrenched afternoon spent kicking back  on the grass at HOTA’s outdoor stage listening to live tunes. These multi-day Gold Coast music festivals are each dedicated to a different genre of music lovers, but the one thing they have in common? They’re completely free.

Blues on Broadbeach - May
Groundwater Country Music Festival - October


Crafted Beer & Cider Festival - September

Cheers to beer! The Gold Coast’s sunny disposition and warm climate make it an ideal spot to sip on an icy cold brew. Each year, lovers of liquid gold gather at Kurrawa Park in Broadbeach for Crafted Beer and Cider Festival, where over 300 different drops from all over Australia are on offer to sample, savour and skull. Froth over 50 different breweries including locals like Burleigh Brewing, Lost Palms and Black Hops. Gourmet food trucks, awesome live music by major acts and the beautiful beachside location make this two day celebration of beer a firm favourite on the Gold Coast events calendar.

Cooly Rocks On - June

In June each year, Australia’s largest rock ‘n roll and nostalgia festival swings into the beachside suburb of Coolangatta for five action-packed days. Cooly Rocks On is a joyful celebration of the music, motors and lifestyle of the 40s, 50s and 60s with lots of free, family-friendly fun to be had, as well as ticketed events. Bop along to live music, learn some new moves at a swing-dance workshop, stroll through the beachfront vintage markets, check out hundreds of classic and customised cars and get serenaded by an Elvis impersonator. But whatever you do, make sure you don’t miss it – Cooly Rocks On is a must-do on the Gold Coast events calendar.

Image: Mandy Martin Photography

Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show - May

The Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show is a four-day celebration of the aquatic lifestyle, from the luxury of the superyacht set to the family fun of messing around in a tinnie. With over 300 exhibitors and 600 boats to see, boaties will be captivated by all the beautiful vessels on display, plus all the latest tech, equipment and seafaring accessories. 

BLEACH* Festival - August

Gold Coast’s beloved annual fringe festival, Bleach* shines a light on the incredible creativity and culture that lives here. Presenting an 11-day program jam packed with an eclectic mix of events, performances and workshops that span the whole city, Bleach brings Gold Coast culture to the people. Immersive experiences and unexpected performance spaces are a signature twist and the program encompasses all forms of expression including dance, theatre, music, visual arts, installations, plays, concerts, workshops, First Nations culture, storytelling, community celebrations and discussions. Bleach* is the cultural equivalent of ‘choose your own adventure’. You might find yourself on a swing wearing a VR headset, watching a marathon theatre performance in the middle of an estuary, slinging mud balloons at installation artists or watching opera on the beach. 

Boost Mobile Gold Coast 500 - October

Fans of fast cars and motorsport eagerly await the annual Boost Mobile Gold Coast 500, when the streets of Surfers Paradise are transformed into a world-class street circuit for an action-packed three-days. Superfans of the super cars can book accommodation with balconies overlooking the track and the event itself is a bustling hub of bars, dining, race spectating and entertainment with three huge nights of live music with Aussie and international acts.

SWELL Sculpture Festival - September

Every year SWELL Sculpture Festival blows our minds with the large-scale sculptures displayed in an incredible outdoor setting. The artworks are integrated into the natural environment creating quite the spectacle. In the past sculptures have been built into the side of rock formations, emerging from the sand and taking pride of place along the footpath beside beautiful Currumbin Beach. Our beloved festival is entirely outdoors and on one of the most pristine beaches in the world, no less. Get a taste for how the locals live – experience incredible art while strolling barefoot in the sand before a quick dip in the ocean followed by a coffee at one of the beachfront cafés.

Gold Coast Film Festival - April

As Baz Lurhmann will attest, the Gold Coast is one of the world’s premier locations to make a movie. Each April, we roll out the red carpet for the Gold Coast Film Festival - our city’s celebration of films and the craft of filmmaking. The 11 day program explores diverse stories and cinematic genres, screening new movies at various locations across the Gold Coast - think outdoor cinema, movie premieres, industry events, workshops, awards nights, discussion panels and a brilliant celebration of the big screen.   

Flotsam Festival

Staged like a giant arts trail spanning the southern Gold Coast suburbs, Flotsam Festival pays homage to the region’s world class surf breaks and iconic coastline through imagery inspired by surf, sand and sea. Over two weeks, Flotsam brings together surfers, film makers, photographers and ocean lovers to experience inspiring stories related to surf culture through pop up short films, photography exhibitions, movie screenings, live music workshops and photo meets. and photographer events peppering precincts in Burleigh, Palm Beach, Currumbin, Tugun, Kirra and Coolangatta.


Surface Festival

Get street smart with street art at Surface Festival each July when visual artists across a variety of mediums showcase their work across the  surfaces in Miami - walls ,warehouses, buildings and shopfronts. This two-week event features all kinds of creative workshops, large-scale live murals, outdoor art exhibitions, gallery nights, live music, laneway concerts, kids activities and more. Surfaces Festival is a fun and fascinating introduction to Gold Coast culture. If you’re not visiting during the event, you can still check out all the amazing murals around Miami - Art Roll Gold Coast has maps and routes you can walk, ride, scoot or skate for a free self-guided tour around the neighbourhood.


Bonsoy Gold Coast Pro

The Gold Coast has a love affair with surfing and professional surf competitions are a common occurrence on our golden beaches and world class waves. The Bonsoy Gold Coast Pro sets up at Snapper Rocks in May, continuing a 20-year tradition that the locals and visitors love. On a good day, up to 10,000 spectators get down to the beach to watch the action in the water as some of Australia’s best surfers battle it out for a qualifying position on the WSL Championship Tour. 

Keen to explore more? Check out Gold Coast's night market.
Kate Veling
Kate Veling

Travel writer, Kate Veling, came to the Gold Coast for six months and loved it so much she’s still here 20 years later. The laidback lifestyle suits her to a tee and as a mum of three, she knows all the best parks, swimming spots and kid-friendly fun to be had in her ‘hood. She’s often found getting amongst the thriving local arts and culture scene, dancing to live music or kicking back on the beach, but rest assured it’s all in the name of research.


Destination Gold Coast acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are situated, the Kombumerri families of the Yugambeh Language Region. 
We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging, and recognise their continuing connections to the lands, waters and their extended communities throughout Southeast Queensland.