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Festivals and events
There's always something happening in Newcastle – from sporting clashes to arts festivals, concerts to exhibitions, conventions to celebrations. Search for events by date, category or keyword below.
Saturday 11th February - Sunday 26th February8:06 - 10:06am
Surfest Newcastle Australia is one of Australia's longest running surfing festivals. Established in 1985, the event commenced as the world's richest professional surfing competition. For 21 years, Surfest was staged at Newcastle Beach and in more recent years has been home at Merewether Beach, which is a recognised Australian National Surfing Reserve in the Newcastle Local Government Area (LGA).
Merewether Beach is also home to Surfest ambassador and Australia's most accomplished World Surfing Champion, Mark Richards. MR was world professional surfing champion from 1979- 1982. Additionally, Mark was voted by his peers at Surfing Australia's 50th anniversary as the most influential Australian surfer from 1963-2013.
In 2016, Surfest staged the first World Surf League (WSL) qualifying series 6000 event on the Australasian leg of the international men and women's professional surfing tour calendar. The Surfest festival hosted 11 different surfing events attracting more than 700 surfers from more than two-dozen countries.
2016 also marked the second year when Surfest held scheduled surfing competitions across three Hunter coast LGAs. Surfers competed at Port Stephens, Newcastle and Lake Macquarie surf breaks, which provided opportunity to showcase some the region's most beautiful natural assets.
Every year Surfest attracts many of the world's best male and female surfers. The jewels in the 2016 Surfest crown were two WSL qualifying series 6000 events – the men's Maitland and Port Stephens Toyota Pro and the Taggart Women's Pro. In a world first, 63 individual businesses with bases both in Newcastle and beyond purchased crowd funding sponsorships priced at $1650 each (including GST) to ensure the women's event would achieve 6000-point status and ensure the involvement of the best female surfers on the planet, including Sally Fitzgibbons and Stephanie Gilmore. Additionally, all of those sponsorships entitled the purchaser to be in the draw to capture the naming rights of the Surfest women's event. The business that contributed and won the draw was Taggart Business Advisors who elected to use Taggart Women's Pro as the name for the event.
A casual glance at the honour roll listing Surfest champs reveals that 13 men's events have been won by a world champion and over the same period five women's events have been won by a woman with a world title. History matters. History is irrefutable evidence of success or failure. Surfest's 31 year history is the lifeblood of the event. It is a rich vein of community engagement and participation. Surfest in 2016 was an enhancement of that history.
In addition to the WSL events, Surfest believes in supporting grass roots surfing. The ongoing success of the Sanbah Cadet Cup presented by Dalton Lawyers is an event for 14 to 16-year-old boys and 16-year-old girls. These events are a crucial breeding ground for local and visiting surfers who hold professional aspirations.
Surfest remains something of an anomaly in the world of professional surfing. It operates with a large army of volunteers and supporters and each year provides training opportunities for the Callaghan College vocational students, giving them a platform to gain work experience and develop both team-working skills and a strong work ethic.
For a full list of events happening at Newcastle's cultural venues, please click on the respective venues...