About This Festival
Its name alone, Splendour in the Grass, evokes lazy, languid afternoons and evenings hanging around, relaxing, soaking up summer’s rays and life’s best unplanned moments. Or maybe it makes you think of that old classic movie. Imagine instead, you’re looking at Australia and, in an effort to create a destination event during a slow period, the winter. Never fear, the temps are mild enough for enjoyment—Byron Bay is a surfer’s paradise and home to lots of creative types. When you add a lineup of super popular artists, along with food trucks, teepees, crafts, a kids’ area, yoga, spa activities, workshops, speakers and the requisite circus performers—you get more things you could possibly do in three days. You get Splendour in the Grass.
Taking its name not from any of those aforementioned things but instead, the English poet William Wordsworth’s “Ode: Imitations of Immortality,” Splendour in the Grass was founded by music producers Jessica Ducrou and Paul Piticco (former manager of Powderfinger) and began as a one-day affair on July 21, 2001 at Belongil Fields. Artists who performed at the debut included Powderfinger, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Steve Malkmus and the Jicks, Squarepusher, and more. It quickly moved to a two-day event held also at Belongil Fields until 2009. It had a two-year stint at Woodfordia, in Woodford, Queensland (just north of Brisbane), for 2010 and 2011, and then moved back to Belongil Fields. All this hopscotching came as a result of organizers trying to find, secure, and prepare a new permanent location in North Byron Parklands, with a capacity of 25,000 people. (The festival has attracted between 17,500-30,000, depending on the venue and the year.)
Almost any given year looks like a who’s who snapshot of alternative rock stars, both established and on the move, those trendy and more obscure, across all kinds of genres. Rosters have topped more than 70 acts with headliners including Mark Ronson, Florence and the Machine and Of Monsters and Men, along with Blur, Ryan Adams, Tame Impala, Peking Duck, The Wombats, Royal Blood and Boy & Bear, along with homegrown talent Flight Facilities, among others. In the past, SITG has hosted acts including Bloc Party, Coldplay, Hot Chip, Brian Wilson, Moby, Mos Def, Devo, Sigur Ros, Florence and the Machine, Sonic Youth, Doves, Regina Spektor, and Lana del Rey. Many of the artists have come back for repeat performers, as this is a festival that strives to create a sense of community and family. In fact, loyal attendees—those who have come for at least five years—are eligible for the Splendour Member’s Club, enabling them to take advantage of early ticket sales of up to four people.
Splendour in the Grass is typically comprised of eight different areas, called stages, some of them incorporating food directly into the music experience. The music experiences range from electronic music (Tipi Forest) and mariachi bands and margaritas (Mexican Cantina) to cocktails on the dance floor (Smirnoff Cocktail Bar). Other spots include the main stage, of course, along with up and coming acts at Red Bull Music Academy and regional performers Buskers Stage. Get learning, quick, at the Splendour Forum. Looking for a spiritual or mind-bending experience in the midst of all this? The Global Village is known for its smoothies, its meditation and yoga sessions, and its chair massages, along with artists, circus performers and other activities designed to get you in touch with your inner self. Don’t miss dancing barefoot under the stars at the midnight fire show.
Food Glorious Food—And Then Some
You could easily spend the entire fest doing nothing but hanging around the markets and craft venues, look or interact with the various art installations, snack from the many food trucks, or relax with a massage. If shopping is your thing, the pop-up experience Very Small Mall offers a wide range of clothing options, from trendy to laid-back to vintage. There’s even something for the smallest of festers at Little Splendour, geared toward kids.
Splendour in the Grass - Green Living and Giving
The festival has long had a tradition of giving back to their host community, and their new home, as of 2013, North Byron Parklands, is no exception. That year’s fest donated money to schools. The festival also received a Highly Commended Award for its 2012 event which was held at Belongil Fields—its home before the Parklands. The international organization Greener Festival Awards granted the honor for the festival’s various sustainability initiatives, including employing a huge machine to sort through garbage and separate various commingled recyclables and garbage; a carbon offset program for its tickets, ride share initiatives, onsite environmental ambassadors, shuttle buses, and more.
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