Five years ago, the Australian festival scene took a bit of a battering due to the loss of key events like Big Day Out (RIP) and Future Music Festival, which was sold to an overseas promoter and became bankrupt before they could even release an official lineup. We also saw a huge decline in audience numbers and the cancellation of other major festivals like Soundwave and Peats Ridge Festival. It was all looking pretty grim, especially if you were a big fan of music and attending the likes of these events. Luckily, over the past few years, there’s been an insurgence of indie festivals and larger music events coming back to our shores.
Music fan or not, the festival scene in Australia plays a pretty major role in getting our home-grown talent on stages (and getting paid), whilst also contributing heavily to the local economy of where the festival takes place. Local food trucks, chefs and small goods sellers often benefit from being involved in a music festival, not to mention all the punters who need to find accomodation in order to attend. There’s so many growth opportunities for small business and talent who jump on board and get involved. Below, I’ve outlined some of the best up and coming festivals currently on the Australian circuit.
Rainbow Serpent Festival
Said to be one of the Aussie festivals you need to visit before you die, Rainbow Serpent Festival is an indie gathering which takes place each year in Victoria. The four day line-up features vibey DJs, local artists, gypsy tents and market stalls. It’s an extremely boutique festival which prides itself on creating a small community across the festival. Rainbow Serpent has seen itself grow over the past 20 years, what started out as a tiny grass roots bush gathering has now grown into a full fledged feast for the senses, with more and more people attending the festival each year. You can expect to see some wild, revealing and glittery outfits whilst you’re there. It’s a colourful overload for the eyes. Rainbow Serpent has now become a major boost for the local Victorian community who sell local crafts, food and beverage at the festival grounds, also including experiences like morning yoga, art classes and spiritual ceremonies.
Mountain Sounds Festival
This newbie joined our ranks in 2014, and right off the bat Mountain Sounds Festival has produced some pretty heavy-weighted lineups over the past four sold-out years. It’s now become a calendar event in the festival community, offering a a diverse and sustainable experience for party-goers who set their sights on the Central Coast to attend. Given its location, accommodation is key to some, but camping is also an option at the festival grounds. Central Coast businesses opt-in to participate as food stalls, clothing merchants and jewellery shacks. The boutique festival brings some of the best talent from overseas to our shores, resulting in tickets always being sold out. It’s become a fast-growing, much sought after experience and continues to bring much needed economy to the Central Coast.
Yours and Owls
A well-known cultural establishment to the people of Wollongong, Yours and Owls is a hybrid festival/ gig promoter for the music loving folk of south Sydney and surrounds. The team at Yours and Owls initially set out to create a cafe where people could listen to live music and enjoy good coffee in the heart of Wollongong. Their ideas kept morphing until they sold up shop (due to a really unfortunate accident with founder Ben Tillman) and decided to run Yours and Owls as a standalone booker/ festival organiser. Since its inception, Yours and Owls festival has grown massively to become a staple Spring event which pulls in thousands of visitors and huge international acts. The founders of Yours and Owls also manage the gigs for rock establishment Rad Bar, alongside booking talent for Wollongong University. In their own words, “We aim to present the best and most unique art (be it music, visual or digital) to the most amount of people in the most interesting way possible”. It’s an organically grown, ever-changing facade for Yours and Owls, who play a totally crucial role in bringing culture and immersive environments to south Sydney.
Berry Fairgrounds Festival
Founded in 2015 and backed up with a stellar first lineup by the likes of Ratatat, Father John Misty and Methyl Ethel, Fairgrounds Festival recently expanded it’s leg into the small town of Berry, around a 20 minute drive south of coastal city Kiama. Now in its fourth iteration, Fairgrounds is an awesome community festival which boasts awesome food, great music and an even better environment for kids to enjoy too. It’s targeted as a family festival which offers old school fun for little ones as well as mum and dad. A record fair, pool, clothing market and kids festival is inside the Fairgrounds, too. With so much to do and so many people to cater for, Berry benefits extremely well from the new festival. Local accommodation is highly sought after, and the sheer amount of punters heading to local cafes and restaurants is amazing to see. After all, if you find yourself in Berry you can’t go past the Berry Pie Shop or Berry Donut Van!
Ultra Music Festival
International mega-festival Ultra is bringing its lineup for the first time ever to Australian shores in 2019. Due to take place in Parramatta Park and Flemington Racecourse in February of 2019, Ultra Music Festival will bring the best of electronic music and DJs to the people of Sydney and Melbourne for its premier. Ultra is part of a chain festival series which sees musicians descend upon countries including the United States, Japan, Croatia and Spain to name a few. Each festival overseas is a sell out and draws major attraction to the city it’s held in. Ultra Music Festival Australia will bring a whole new audience to its shows, and will majorly boost the economy of the local areas where its being held. I’m looking forward to see the lineup for this one!