The Low Down on the Queenscliff Music Festival

The Queenscliff Music Festival, affectionately known as QMF, is one of Australia’s most iconic beach festivals and a regular pilgrimage for any live music fan. 

Here’s a brief history, artist highlights and general overview of the weekend, including what The Blues Train has to offer alongside this spectacular music fest every November. So grab your mates and join the party for an incredible Australian music festival.

History of the Queenscliff Music Festival

Way back in the 90s a small group of locals wanted to bring live music back to Queenscliff to show off their picturesque township and encourage tourism. Starting out in 1997 as a small-scale festival with 1,500 attendees. 

It is now an internationally acclaimed event that draws in over 25,000 people held on the last weekend in November. This not for profit festival is run by the local community and provides a unique and significant contribution to the Australian music industry, regional Victorian cultural tourism and the creative arts.

With a passion for all things music, and a well known Queenscliff local, Hugo T Armstrong has always been an avid supporter of QMF, and from 1998 to 2004 he was their Artistic Director, Manager and Promoter. While in this position, his dedication to promoting the festival and events industry saw the QMF win the National Tourism Award for Best Festival Event category as well as winning the Victorian Tourism Award over three consecutive years, which placed the QMF in the Victorian Tourism Hall of Fame. A personal highlight was when Hugo was awarded the Centenary Medal in 2001 from the Prime Minister and Governor General for service to the community through the Queenscliff Music Festival.

There have been so many talented artists who have performed at QMF over the past 25 years. We’d love to list them all instead Hugo has handpicked a selection of some of his favourite performances from his time as festival director of Queenscliff Music Festival.

  • Archie Roach
  • Ash Grunwald
  • Billy Thorpe
  • Chris Wilson
  • Colin Hay
  • Jimi Little
  • Joe Camilleri
  • John Butler Trio
  • Max Merritt and The Meteors
  • Mental As Anything
  • Mick Thomas
  • Paul Kelly
  • Renée Geyer
  • Ross Wilson
  • Tim Rogers
  • The Badloves
  • The Cat Empire
  • The Church
  • Vika and Linda
  • Xavier Rudd
  • For a full history of the festival check out the QMF website.

Overview of Victoria’s Favourite Beach Festival 

QMF has been dubbed Victoria’s favourite beach festival and rightly so. This family-friendly event has live music to suit all ages, with even the kids having their own special lineup to jump around to. There’s family-fun activities, Mountain Goat craft beers, locally distilled spirits from Queenscliff Brewhouse, Scotchmans Hill fine wines, local gourmet produce, food trucks and so much more to enjoy on this weekend long Aussie live music celebration. Come along and see Queenscliff’s historic seaside village transformed into a pumping streetscape of tunes and good vibes with three main stages on the foreshore, plus various venues around town, the last weekend every November.

QMF proudly winning awards

The QMF has worked diligently to provide the best live music festival around. They have won several awards including:

The Blues Train and QMF 

In 1994 The Blues Train was born. It was a great success and a key player in the creation of QMF in 1999 when a showcase was added to the QMF weekend program. In the beginning The Blues Train was partnered with QMF as a showcase format up until 2019. Since 2020, The Blues Train is now run independently over that weekend by its operator, The Blues Train Proprietary Limited. 

​During the QMF festival, The Blues Train runs a regular Friday and Saturday night service with dinner and show, plus an additional daytime lunch event every Saturday during the festival. On Sundays, festival visitors who love contemporary blues and roots music on a steam train will be able to ride a special family friendly Blues Train showcase (a 45 minute trip that excludes regular dining and liquor licence).

Each year the Sunday Blues Train showcase program coincides with the Queenscliff Community Market at the Bellarine Railway Station precinct.

What’s Happening on The Blues Train over the QMF Weekend this Year

On the last weekend in November, The Blues Train runs a combination of our regular evening shows on the Friday and Saturday night plus an extra lunchtime show and a series of activations. We do this each year to coincide with the running of the Queenscliff Music Festival and Queenscliff Community Market. 

Queenscliff Music Festival Inc runs their annual event independently from The Blues Train Pty Ltd. The main festival precinct is located at lower Princess Park plus at local venues around town. The music festival is an excellent community event that is ticketed separately and you may wish to compliment some of your weekend experience with either a dinner or lunch show on the legendary Blues Train.

Each year during the QMF, The Blues Train also runs pop-up activations. Blues Train showcases and other pop-up performances are announced every November, so keep an eye on The Blues Train newsletter by becoming a VIP or check our socials: Facebook and Instagram.

The Blues Train is fully independent of the QMF and proud to offer our mini festival on a steam train experience to everyone who has ever said, ‘I’ve always wanted to do that!’

Ready to shake, rattle and roll with us? Get tickets on our show dates page

If you are coming to the music festival here’s their FAQs.

Other Major Australian Music Festivals 

Hugo T says, if you want to know more about other festivals here’s a list in no particular order. 

Looking for More Music, The QMF Town Hall Concert Series 

If you can’t wait until the festival in November, the QMF also runs the Queenscliff Town Hall concert series. These intimate events play host to Australia’s favourite live music performers during the year. These regular concerts are a great way to enjoy the local live music and entertainment scene in Queenscliff with acts like Thornbird (Vikki Thorn of The Waifs), Tex Perkins & Matt Walker, Bones and Jones, Teeny Tiny Stevies, William Crighton, Charm of Finches, Jack Carty,  Russell Morris, Josh Pyke, Eric Bibb, Cat Canteri, Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers, Gomez, Liz Stringer, Archie Roach, The Whitlams Black Stump Band, Julia Jacklin, and Richard Clapton on their stellar line up.

Major sponsors and supporters of the festival

The QMF has a fantastic range of local businesses who support the festival and contribute to its success. The past and present sponsors include: