Is the ‘experience’ of a festival just as important as the lineup?

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In the wake of Australia’s travelling mega-festival market collapsing, a large number of boutique music festivals have appeared, flourishing within this newfound gap in the market. With the loss of Big Day Out, Soundwave, Future, and Stereosonic in the space of a few years, punters were stripped of their summer festival experience. Now in 2018, there is no shortage of music festivals around the country thanks to the growing number of boutique festivals put on each year.

More bang for your buck

Punters want to get as much out of their festival experience as possible to justify the price point of tickets. The demand, as well as the desire from organisers to get people to attend their festivals, has led to an integration of culture and arts to enhance the festival experience. Now these events are often held away from major cities, in beautiful locations filled with vibrant art and experiences to compliment the musical acts.

The growth within the boutique festival market means there really is something for everyone, affording patrons far more opportunities to experience live music. Additionally, these festivals are also a fantastic platform for developing artists to cut their teeth in the scene, improve their live performance and play to new audiences.

The experience

A swimming pool, markets, child minding, and even egg-and-spoon races are on offer at Fairgrounds Festival in Berry. UNIFY Gathering in rural Victoria is a heavy music festival where punters can camp for 3-days while rocking out into the early hours of the morning. Splendour In The Grass compliments it’s lineup with camping, craft classes, comedy performances, art installations and discussion forums.

The bonus of a beautiful location is another major drawcard for many. Island Vibe festival is held by the beach on Queensland’s beautiful North Stradbroke Island, having built up a program through the years to include interactive workshops, craft markets, yoga, meditation sessions, and the chance to quite literally swim in the ocean between sets. It’s a family friendly and community oriented festival, with a major emphasis on environmental initiatives.

Focusing on reducing the environmental impact a festival has on it’s surroundings is a common thread among boutique festivals as well. Field Day encourage punters to clean up after themselves by offering drink tokens in exchange for empty cans and cups. However, festivals like Island Vibe go a step further, providing punters a bike hire tent, recycling center and composting toilets, as well as utilising bio-fuel generators and a solar powered stage.

If you’ve had a wonderful festival experience, you’re more likely to return the following year. Often, people will attend music festivals, even when they only know a few artists on the lineup, simply because they love the atmosphere and experience itself. Now that the festival landscape is changing, weaving even more features into each event to appeal to a broader spectrum of people has become essential.

Although many die-hard music fans may argue that music festivals should be about the music, at the end of the day getting people through the gates is the main prerogative of organisers. Ticket sales are the backbone of these events, and if adding value in in the form of fun artistic and cultural elements is the way to keep the festival circuit alive, then so be it. Festivals are there to be enjoyed by everyone, no matter what their reason for attending.

This article and supporting images originally featured on Toan Deaf written by Georgia Moloney on Sep 04, 2018, images Georgia Moloney and Lachie Douglas - you can view it on there site here.

Stephanie Heading