Festivals on Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island music festivals

Nestled off the southern coast of Australia, Kangaroo Island is a nature lover’s paradise with incredible views of sweeping coastlines and rugged cliff faces. While it’s known for its pristine beaches, diverse wildlife, and gorgeous landscapes, the island also draws tourists with a calendar brimming with unique festivals. From the exhilarating Kangaroo Island Cup Carnival that kicks off the year to the energetic Off Tap Music Festival, they bring together locals and visitors alike. Here’s your guide through Kangaroo Island's festivals.

Gutsy festival wine tasting


Kangaroo Island Cup Carnival

At the beginning of the new year, Kangaroo Island bursts into life with the much-anticipated Kangaroo Island Cup Carnival. Head trackside in the heart of summer to celebrate fashion, community, and of course, horse racing.

Over several days, the Kangaroo Island Racing Club draws in crowds from across the island and mainland Australia. It's a chance to get dolled up for a great day out. Fashion plays a big part in this festival, so go loud and proud. You will also get the chance to enjoy the array of culinary delights provided by local producers. Don’t forget to head to the pop-up bars scattered throughout where you can sip on some of the best Kangaroo Island wines to the backdrop of the races. As night falls, the festivities continue with live music and dancing under the starlit sky.

Kangaroo Island Carnival

Celebrating Kangaroo Island Festivals

These festivals showcase the island's natural beauty, its cultural richness, and its commitment to sustainability and community. They are a celebration of local produce and talent, and the warmth of a close-knit community. For visitors, these festivals provide an opportunity to experience a different side of Kangaroo Island – its people, its landscapes, and its way of life. Each festival is a chance to immerse in the local culture, to learn, to taste, to explore, and to connect. Whether you're a first-time visitor or a returning friend, Kangaroo Island's festivals are sure to leave you with unforgettable memories.

Kangaroo Island Oats Running Festival

The stunning landscapes of Kangaroo Island become the stage for the Kangaroo Island Marathon, attracting runners from all over the world. The course route carves its way through the heart of Flinders Chase National Park, which is closed off for the day for this popular run. The event caters to a range of fitness levels, with options for a full marathon, half marathon and shorter distances. There’s no excuse not to get involved while you’re there!

The Kangaroo Island Oats Running Festival started back in 2015 and has welcomed runners from 23 countries and every state in Australia. In 2021 the event was awarded a bronze medal at the South Australian Tourism Awards.

Beyond the race, the Kangaroo Island Marathon is a community event, with local businesses, tourists and residents coming together to support the runners. From cheering squads along the route to local produce being showcased at the event, it’s a great day out for the whole family, even if you choose not to pop on those running shoes and join the marathon.  

Gutsy Kangaroo Island Event

The Gutsy Kangaroo Island event, launched in June 2022, is a celebration of the island's producers. The aptly named event showcases the island's diverse food and beverage culture, built on guts and determination, and includes a range of wine, spirits, cider, beer, and food. 

Kangaroo Island isn’t the easiest place to be a producer, but the challenge that the Island presents makes the products that much more unique. It's a testament to the bold spirit of the island's locals and their ability to craft exceptional products despite the challenges of distance, weather and isolation.

If you’re looking to immerse yourself in the local culture and get to know even more about this incredible island, this is the festival for you. Head along and chat with the local artisans and discover how hard they work to produce their amazing products. It’s a great way to support the locals!

Gutsy Kangaroo Island festival

Southbound Musicfest

If you love the simplicity of dancing along to live music in one of the most picturesque regions in South Australia, then it’s worth adding The Southbound Musicfest to your list. They mix it up each and every year, so you are guaranteed a fresh lineup of incredible musical talents to keep you entertained for the night. 

Whether you prefer to sit back and take in the music or get up and enjoy a dance, this festival is known for showcasing the best of South Australian live music. Check their website ahead of time to see the brand new lineup of amazing artists offering up an unforgettable musical experience. 

Off Tap Music Festival

Whether you're a music lover, a foodie, or just looking for a great time, Off Tap Music Festival at Kangaroo Island Brewery has something for everyone. Come along for an incredible atmosphere, great music, incredible food and plenty of dancing. 

Each year they have a new lineup across a number of different genres, so there are tunes for all. You can settle back and feel the beats while your tastebuds feast on the delicious food and wine options from local and mainland suppliers. When you’re ready, it’s the perfect chance to dance the night away while making the most of the pop-up bar and good tunes.

Festival Tips for Enjoying Kangaroo Island's Annual Events

  • Plan ahead: Some of these festivals can attract large crowds. Booking accommodation and transport in advance is essential, especially for the bigger events like the Kangaroo Island Cup Carnival.
  • Dress appropriately: The weather on the island can change suddenly, so always check the forecast and pack appropriately. Comfortable footwear is a must, especially for events involving walking or outdoor activities, like the Kangaroo Island Marathon.
  • Try local produce: The island is famous for its fresh, locally-sourced food and drink. Festivals are perfect opportunities to sample these delights and chat with the local growers and artisans to learn more about their way of life.
  • Support local artisans: Festivals like the Gutsy Kangaroo Island feature local artisans. Purchasing their goods not only supports the local economy but also gives you a unique souvenir from your trip.
  • Network with locals: Locals can offer valuable insights into the best festival experiences and hidden gems on the island.

Whether you’ve started planning your Kangaroo Island holiday or not, check out First Light Travel’s blog for any further information you might need. Or, you can contact FLT’s Kangaroo Island travel team for advice and guidance on how to design your own trip.

Felicity Frankish
Felicity Frankish
: 26 Mar 2024 (Last updated: 27 Mar 2024)

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