Festival fever: unmissable events in and around Kiama
From rib-tickling comedy to award-winning wines and the best in jazz and blues, these festivals should be marked on your calendar.
Internationally renowned musicians. A globally renowned clown. Award winning food and wine. A Guinness World Record-holding sword swallower (and chainsaw juggler). Secret street art. An acrobatic troupe. And festivals to celebrate them all. Kiama might be a tranquil seaside hamlet but every year the cultural calendar grows, with street art, live music and becoming part of the fabric of the area.
The annual KISS Arts Fest is the brainchild of circus performer Dave Evans and his wife, Tamara Campbell, a physical comedian who grew up in Kiama. After nearly a decade touring around Europe, they saw an opportunity to create a unique event set against the town’s picturesque backdrop.
Now held annually at the end of April, the KISS Arts Fest has become a true highlight on the South Coast calendar for both young and old. “Everything we do at KISS, we make sure that it’s going to be suitable for all ages,” says Dave.
While the KISS Arts Fest can lay claim circus royalty, the region is blessed with a myriad of vibrant festivals. Here are Dave’s top five must-experience events.
Kiama Show (January)
“The Kiama Show champions the region’s producers and the area has such a rich agricultural history,” says Dave. Every year around Australia Day, you can take in the CWA’s scone-making master class, enjoy the riot of roses and blooms grown by local farmers, and marvel at the mind-boggling array of cakes from home cooks.
Kiama Jazz and Blues Festival (March)
Over three days every March, the usually peaceful parks and streets of the town are transformed into a toe-tapping (and totally free) extravaganza of tunes, featuring performers from around Australia.
Kiama Farmers’ Market (weekly)
Every Wednesday afternoon, dozens of local growers come to the Kiama Farmers’ Market to sell everything from honey to organic vegies, eggs, cheese and salami. Dave’s top picks? The local Wagyu beef, gin and beer stalls. The market is also “a true community gathering”, says Dave, which brings hundreds of locals together for a chinwag and the chance to stock up on the best fresh ingredients. There’s live music, too.
Crooked River Wines Winter Wine Festival (June)
Enjoy live music while sipping on the best local whites, reds and rosés during the Crooked River Wines Winter Wine Festival. The winery, 15 minutes’ drive from Kiama, also hosts a Spring Festival to mark the beginning of the warmer months, and Stomping of the Grapes is in February.
As a result of COVID restrictions in 2020, this event was postponed to 2-3 April 2021.
Jamberoo Music Festival (July)
The hills are alive with the sound of blues, roots and country. Dave is a big supporter of the Jamberoo Music Festival, which brings together more than 100 musicians for a vibrant, community-driven event in neighbouring Jamberoo. This year’s line-up of Aussie talent features 19-Twenty, Dave Orr Band and Ruby Tuesdays. With numerous performances spread across the town, there is also plenty of free entertainment on offer. Just don’t forget your dancing shoes.
NEW! Ignite – Kiama Winter Festival
Showcasing the magnificent Kiama foreshore and taking place in the lead up to the shortest day of the year, the Winter Solstice (and the countdown back to summer), the festival is for one day only.Experience a dynamic rhythm show by Junkyard Beats, a visit from Lolo Lovina the Gypsy Caravan, aerial circus performers and so much more! Stay warm with fire cooking demonstrations, arts and cultural sensory experiences, indigenous displays and culinary tastings, roving fire entertainment, live music and workshops. The Kiama Harbour will then come alive with an impressive fireworks display at 7:30pm.
Ignite – Kiama Winter Festival is brought to you by Destination Kiama, Kiama Municipal Council, and in conjunction with Kiama Business Chamber.
For information on all of these and more, head to the Events Calendar which covers everything from art exhibitions and markets to pop-up events and workshops.