Winner of the Event of the Year at the Australian Event Awards in 2010 – Trevor Connell reports on Bluesfest 2011
It is one of the largest festivals in Australia and it has been going for 23 years on various sites around Byron Bay. The event is known for a great line-up of musical acts… and for mud.
But how does it work as an event?
This year I went along to have a look and I must say it is one of the best run festivals I’ve been to. This is due to the passion of Peter Noble (the owner of Bluesfest) and the great teams he has working with him.
The festival moved to a new site last year. It is now held on a 120 hectare Tea Tree farm that Peter has purchased. During the year it is still a working farm although there are large cleared areas to accommodate the stage, back of house, camping and parking areas.
There is an excellent history of Bluesfest on their website so I won’t go into that.
Some observations from me and then there are a couple of videos that cover a lot more.
Arrival – plenty of car parking space with lots of volunteers to help – they were also collecting donations for the Qld flood victims in lieu of parking fees.
There is also excellent access for public transport and there shuttle busses to Byron Bay, Mullumbimby and through to Brisbane.
Plenty of volunteers to show the way to the gates, friendly security doing bag checks.
Once inside the festival site I was struck by how spacious it is.
The site features five stages inside huge tents and all facing to the east. This achieves a couple of things – first the sound is all directed out to sea and not toward any of the other stages. Secondly the setting sun is behind the stages and not a problem for performers or punters.
The main catering area is double sided running up either side of a service road that separates the two largest stages. Most of the catering and toilets and all of the stages are serviced by roads that run around behind them with no need to bring equipment (or performers) through the crowd. This back of house area also has a dedicated access road – excellent design.
I certainly had no problem hearing any of the acts I went to see and there was no noise bleed from the adjacent stages. As all the viewing areas are flat, apart from some bleachers off to the side of the main stage, seeing the more popular acts was a bit of a problem but the two main stages had plenty of large screens to watch (or take photos of with a phone – duh!)
Apart from the main stages there was other entertainment to enjoy – the busking tent though very small, was very popular. Kids in particular were enthralled by the inflatables drifting over their heads courtesy of Plasticiens Volants and the night time lantern parade from the folks in Lismore.
I blogged updates from Bluesfest which you can view here
Bluesfest bar manager on keeping the thirsty patrons satiated – time 1:30
Some of the street performers – time 1:30
an extensive interview with venue manager Brendan Meek – time 11 min