The Swell Festival is one of the seaside highlights of the year in South East Queensland. This free family friendly festival features artworks on the foreshore and the sand itself at Currumbin Beach on the Gold Coast.
The festival is on for 10 days from Friday September 8 through to Sunday September 17. With the artworks on the beach, you can visit at any time of the day or night, especially as some of the artworks are lit up at night. Though I think it be best to head there during the day.
The best time is to go over the weekend, when many of the artists will be present to talk about their works and answer questions. This is in no way intrusive, but sometimes we have been discussing the art while the artist stands behind us listening in to the conversation.
The artworks are scattered along the kilometre of Currumbin Beach, from the RSL down to the rocks and with some artworks just beyond the rocks. With art both on beach and on the foreshore, the best approach is to walk down the beach then back up the foreshore (or visa versa.)
The artworks are from a range of artists, some created specifically for the festival. They range from the large and spectacular, through to the small and cute. Many are designed to take advantage of the beach location.
In recent years, food options have increased, with food trucks and stalls being setup at the green opposite the Currumbin Rock at the northern end of the beach. You can also eat at the Currumbin RSL at the southern end of the beach. A little further afield you will find some cafes along the southern bank of Currumbin Creak. A picnic is a great idea, but if you are looking to have a barbecue you might need to get away from Currumbin Beach because of the number of people that will be around. But there are plenty of barbecues along Currumbin Creek and at Palm Beach just across Currumbin Creek from Currumbin Beach.
There is more to the festival than just art and food (which you have to admit is enough of a reason to go anyway). There will also be a number of free and ticketed activities. The most notable is live music on The Green where the food trucks are located.
Other activities include free exercise groups such as yoga, tai chi and fitness. There are also exercise activities for kids. If you want to learn more about the art, then you can join the free Twilight Walks on Sundays.
There will be some additional artworks in other locations. There is an exhibition of small scare artworks at the Dust Temple in Currumbin, the Rising Blue Line installation in Winders Park on the southern bank of Currumbin Creek and the Hellensvale Branch Library will hold the Northerly Swell Festival from August 15 to September 17.
For those looking to improve their own artistic talents, there are a number of courses on for both young and old. Art to Move You ($15) is aimed at helping kids express themselves through art, Plein Air Painting ($65) is about art classes in the natural landscape. Life Drawing ($35) is a beginners class aimed at learning how to capture the human figure, conducted on the beach. Phillip Piperides will be running a Master Art Cass ($150) at the Currumbin Nippers Club. There are also free photography workshops. For all classes, bookings are essential.
Getting there is fairly easy. Driving is no problem and even at the busiest time, there is still enough parking in the area that you can usually find a place to park near the beach with most of the parking spots being at the northern end. When no parking is available, we park at Tugun Beach and walk up the beach to Currumbin.
Public transport is no problem either. Just get off the bus at the stop near the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. People taking the train from Brisbane can switch to the 760 bus at Varsity Lakes Station.