Celebrating our oceans

The fourth annual Volvo Ocean Lovers Festival returns to Bondi, Sydney, on 23 and 24 March.

11 March 2024


Can seaweed save humanity? What’s next if no shark nets? Are whales talking to us? Some big questions and brilliant answers will be shared when the annual Volvo Ocean Lovers Festival returns to Bondi on 23 and 24 March. With a jam-packed program of events and experts to discuss the ocean, artists to celebrate their love of it and heaps of ocean-friendly activities, it’s free for the public.

The program at Bondi Pavilion and surrounds offers markets, music, art, workshops and activities plus two full days of talks anyone can rock up to for some science in your swimmers.

Festival Founder Anita Kolni said, “We’re injecting lots of entertainment and fun activities alongside the important discussions with science, innovation and solutions being shared with the public throughout the festival to increase awareness and inspire action to support a healthy ocean.

“We know our Sydney community love the ocean and want it to thrive, including all the precious species it’s home to, so the festival is truly an accessible and fun way to find out a bit more, connect with actions and ideas that are helping the ocean and celebrate with fellow ocean lovers through art and music,” she added.


The fourth annual weekend festival will be preceded by two packed days of school excursions and showcase events for hundreds of students to attend on 21 and 22 March, made possible with the support of the IMC Foundation, Inspiring Australia, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium and The University of Sydney.

A partnership with the Sydney Institute of Marine Science and the NSW Department of Environment at the festival will showcase Project Restore – a blockbuster program to rewild and repair the biodiversity and seascapes within Sydney Harbour.

The Ocean Lovers Talks in the pavilion (free bookings), will cover topics ranging from coral reefs to sharks and other giants of the sea like dugongs and whales, exploring the wonders of algae, hearing about what’s happening on the high and deep seas that’s so important to the planet, understand how to eat seafood with a conscience, and find out about the real impact of shark nets and their alternatives!

Adults and kids workshops range from freediving and hypnotics to art classes and origami whales.

The popular Big Bondi Beach Clean with Take 3 will return, as well as a free sunrise yoga and meditation session on the beach and a Sand Sculpture competition with prize money from Blue World.

Interactive art projects to take you under the surface and into wonder will be on display with Out of Sight, Out of Mind by Underwater Earth and the Ocean Sentinels from the Museum of Underwater Art,  a student waste-art exhibition Litterarty, plus a performance art show Tidal Traces with DJ sets by Nicholas Wilkinson and Claudia Leonard as well as Beach Couture art from Marina Debris.

“Festival goers will be enlightened and inspired by this year’s remarkable program, which brings to life the wonder and significance of our ocean, the impact we can have and hope for the ocean’s future. There’s something for everyone to enjoy,” Kolni said.

Volvo Managing Director Stephen Connor said, “It is a privilege to be partnered with the Ocean Lovers Festival as the Festival’s aims are closely aligned with that of Volvo Cars.

“Sustainability has been at the heart of our values since our inception in 1927 and is central to our company’s purpose. We appreciate that as a car company, we have been a part of the impact on our environment, but our commitment to becoming a sustainable company is well on its way, and our 2040 carbon neutral target is essential for not only our future success but for the future of us all.”

Waverley Mayor, Cr Paula Masselos said it is important for council to support the Volvo Ocean Lovers Festival given its key focus on raising awareness about climate change through information and entertainment.

“Waverley Council was one of the first local government organisations in Australia to declare a target of net zero carbon emissions for our community by 2035 and this festival is helping increase awareness of simple ways to help respond to climate change,” Mayor Masselos said.

“We must do whatever we can to help protect our home by the sea including the health of our oceans and waterways, wildlife corridors and native flora and fauna.”

“We invite all Volvo Ocean Lovers Festival participants to sign up to Waverley Council’s Net Zero Alliance to help us achieve our community net zero target and make sustainability second nature.

The festival is presented by Volvo Car Australia as naming rights partner and charity partner IMC Foundation with major partners Waverley Council and SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium.

The not-for-profit festival partner is Underwater Earth. Supporting partners are Blue World, MA Financial, Inspiring Australia, Ocean Protect, University of Sydney, Australian National Maritime Museum, The Hidden Sea and Stone & Wood.

The Australian National Maritime Museum will host a Blue Solutions Summit half day conference and networking event all about the ocean.


Festival highlights

20 March – Paint & Splash art event, ticketed

20 March – Blue Solutions Summit at ANMM, ticketed

21 March – Sea Science Student Expo

21 March – Climate Action: What’s brilliant and what’s bullshit, Bondi Pavilion, 5.30 pm

21 to 24 March – art exhibitions Tidal Traces music and interactive art show, Out of Sight, Out of Mind interactive photographic exhibition, Litterarty student art exhibition, Beach Couture: A Haute Mess by Marina Debris and Ocean Sentinels from the  Museum of Underwater Art

22 March – School excursions

23 March – Sunrise Yoga on the beach with Rare Studio Bondi, free booking

23 March – Big Bondi Beach Clean with Take 3 for the Sea, free booking

23 March – Valerie Taylor’s Grey Nurse Shark Census

23 March – Films: The Power of Activism | Macquarie Island: Australia’s Jewel in the Southern Ocean

23 to 24 March – Ocean Lovers Talks in the High Tide Room, free bookings

23 to 24 March – Live music on the Sunshine Stage and markets

23 to 24 March  – free kids activities in the Pavilion courtyard and adult workshops

24 March – Marine Sand Sculpture competition on the beach, register for prizes.



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