Freelance writer with a BA double majoring in Literature and Australian History who loves finding random places of social or historical treasure whilst travelling around visiting festivals, markets and quaint cafes with my husband and baby
Bluesfest presents Tom Jones UB40 Noel Gallagher Don Maclean
Bluesfest Byron Bay is held over the Easter long weekend each year. This year it runs from Thursday 24th to Monday 28th March 2016. With 7 stages, over 200 performances going for 12 hours a day, 5 licensed bars and over 100 food and market stalls this is one of the biggest festivals in Australia.
In it's 27th year this festival just keeps getting better. While other big festivals in Australia are running into financial trouble, Bluesfest survives for several reasons. Firstly, it owns the land it's held upon; food vendors and stallholders are locals not big corporations so it doesn't pay royalties; the fans are loyal and keep coming back; and finally the artists are amazing. Bluesfest has no age limit. Thirty-somethings dance alongside aging retired hippies and families with young children.
The lineup is always impressive and this year is no different. Headliners for 2016 include Tom Jones, Brian Wilson, Noel Gallagher, Melissa Etheridge, UB40, Kendrick Lamar, Jackson Browne, the Original Blues Brothers Band, Steve Earle & The Dukes, and the one I'm looking forward to, Don Maclean of Miss American Pie fame.
ZZ Top on the Mojo stage - 2011
With all of these guys spread across the 5 days there's never a bad night, but don't think it's just about the headliners. The National, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Joe Bonamassa, D'Angelo, and Taj Mahal are sure to bring the crowds.
Home grown legend Kim Churchill is back for another year at the festival that started his rise to fame. If you've never seen his show, get along this year. He has energy to burn and a great stage personality. Steve Smyth, Pierce Brothers, Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real, and Richard Clapton will keep the fans entertained all afternoon.
For the full lineup each day, as well as any new artist announcements, see the official Bluesfest website. Artist autograph signings are well supported each year and the list of signings is posted each day outside the Festival shop.
Without doubt, the organisers of Bluesfest do an awesome job bringing us comprehensive and varied lineups each year, but it's not just about the music.
You can feel Bluesfest in the air long before you see it the grounds. It's held at Tygarah Tea Tree Farm, about 10 minutes out of Byron Bay. During Bluesfest week the entirety of Byron becomes electric. The usually laidback eclectic mix of locals and backpackers swells to frenzied size with festival goers and tourists coming from miles around. Buskers on every corner, barefoot hippies and dreadlocks abound.
Every second car is a Wicked van, and prayer flags are everywhere. The atmosphere is buzzing and everybody is your friend. This weekend really is peace love and rock n roll. Even the traffic jam to get into Byron or the lineup to get into the Bluesfest carpark is exciting. The cars feel like they're in festival mode.
I cannot go any further without mentioning the volunteers. The volunteers make any festival and Bluesfest is no different. A fun hardworking group of people, they go out of their way to assist with a smile on their face. You'll often see them dancing along to the music while they stand at their ticket entry post or carpark attendant spot.
Of course you have the option of camping at Bluesfest, and for me, it's always the best option. Accommodation in Byron and surrounds sells out months in advance and is at a high premium nightly rate. Most places require a 4 night stay. The price of a camp ticket can appear a little rich, but when compared to nearby accommodation in town, it's a bargain. Plus, you get the convenience of being right on site should you want to indulge in a few beverages or party into the night. There are luxury camping options plus options to take your van or motorhome as well. I've got to say that the volunteers do an amazing job in making sure the toilet and shower facilities on site are always clean and well stocked. Think fully self-contained mobile shower units with steaming hot water. If you don't want to camp transport options are available from the nearby towns. While I'm at it, the facilities for kids are fantastic. The dedicated parents area has a time out space, change rooms and a nice play area.
Mud mud and more mud - just adds to the fun each year!
With the mention of camping I cannot fail to mention the rain. It rains every year at Bluesfest. But don't despair, the rain just makes it better. Don't believe me? The standard foot wardrobe for Bluesfest is gumboots. You'll find gumboots, boots and the trusty thong in every colour and design. Mud stomping is a way of life for 5 days and everybody embraces it. Come prepared and you'll love it. Come in stilettos and white dress and you'll wish you were anywhere else. Most stages are under cover so the rain doesn't affect the performances.
My motto for Bluesfest this year is go hard or go home. Jump in, love the mood, love the music and love the people, and you'll have the time of your life.
Tickets come in all packages and budgets starting at $179/day. 1 day, 3 days and 5 day packages, buddy and "4 packs" plus VIP are all available to suit your needs. The earlier you buy them the cheaper they are. Camping tickets are only available when you buy a festival ticket for that day.
Bluesfest is held at Tygarah Tea Tree Farm, Tygarah, NSW, just outside Byron Bay.