15 Of The Top Boutique Festivals You Can Find Down Under This SeasonArticle by: Marcus Barnes|@mgoldenbarnes
Mon November 07, 2016 | 00:00 AM
Down Under there is a long list of heavyweight festival operators, who dominate the large-scale end of the market. But Australia's also has a booming boutique festival industry for all those discerning festies who want to experience something a little more intimate.
Typically held in stunning, out-of-the-way, locations, Australia's smaller festival enterprises keep it tight, encouraging a variety of conscious activities from community building to promoting local industries and protecting the nation's precious heritage and environment. Here's a list of some of those amazing events.
Boomerang Festival, April 13-18, 2017
Launched in support of Australia’s indigenous Aborigines, Boomerang is a wholesome, holistic festival with a staunch inclusive ethos. What’s great about this festival is that it is dedicated to the Aborigines, one of the world’s oldest living cultures. The people behind Boomerang are Bluesfest, Australia’s largest blues and roots festival, and their ambition to unite Australians, and everybody else, through their event is one of many positive aspects of this lovely little event.
Strawberry Fields, November 17-20, 2016
Touted as "a festival of music, love and art," Strawberry Fields does exactly what it says on the tin providing a relaxed space in which festies can express themselves freely, without judgment. Fun, good times and an abundance of colour is what you can expect at this festival. It takes place way out in the outback too, so it’s got a hint of Burning Man about it, which is always good!
Mountain Sounds, February 17-18, 2017
In New South Wales, there's a sustainable festival that aims to showcase its locality called Mountain Sounds. By including local businesses and the local community, the organizers work towards integrating with their mountainous locale, rather than simply setting up somewhere picturesque and ignoring the locals, which can often happen. Hats off to them for not only their great ethos but an event that features some great music and art in a special location.
Party In The Paddock, February 10-12, 2017
Tasmania is one of those rare parts of the world that still retains an air of separation. It’s chilled out, off the beaten path, and has unique wildlife, including the Tasmanian Devil and Bandicoots. That aside Party In The Paddock is a great camping event with a good cause, supporting mental health awareness this year and luring Aussies on the mainland over to escape what the festival has called "nanny state bulls***." Lovely!
Festival Of The Sun, December 8 - 10, 2016
With 12 years under its belt Festival Of The Sun is in a serious groove. The festival has achieved a level of professionalism that’s second to none and organizers regularly curate lineups that include some of the world’s best-known performers, and a good amount of up and coming talents. Fancy dress is the order of the day here, so let go of your inhibitions and make a splash with this year’s aquatic theme.
The Hills Are Alive, December 31, 2016
"Three days of music, camping and good vibes” says the slogan on THAA’s website. A quick look at the 2015 aftermovie shows that the festival is exactly that. It’s a simple ethos, but one that represents all the things that make festival culture so great and life-affirming. To maintain the ambience at their precious event, organizers have made THAA an invite-only festival. Only artists or those who have attended before are permitted to extend an invitation to their friends. Combine the tight-knit communal atmosphere with the rolling hills of South Gippsland and it’s a win.
Lost Paradise, December 29 - 31, 2016
Set in the beautiful greenery of Glenworth Valley, in Popran National Park, Lost Paradise certainly lives up to its name. Campers arise to the sparkling waters of Mangrove Creek all the way up the east coast north of Sydney. There’s something very special about camping in nature, something grounding and relaxing that can’t be replicated by city-based festivals, and that's where Lost Paradise’s strength lies. Not to mention the lineup which includes international stars like Eats Everything, Heidi and Skream – AND it finishes up on New Year’s Day. What an amazing way to usher in the new year.
Subsonic, December 2 - 4, 2016
Not to be confused with Stereosonic (which was permanently canceled recently), Subsonic is a small event centered around music, health and wellness. With healing centers, workshops and a gaggle of impressive performers, it ticks all the boxes as far as creativity and self-expression go. On top of that, their music curation is top notch – from Seth Troxler and Ben UFO to the legendary Mad Professor meets Lee Scratch Perry (insane!), it’s a music lover’s dream.
A Festival Called Panama, March 10 - 12, 2017
Described by one reviewer as "the unicorn of festivals," Panama is another Tasmania-based event with a distinctly petite feel. Set on a 50-acre estate, it encompasses music, spoken-word, pop-up markets and local food/drink stalls – families are an important part of the event, with children and their parents catered for. The amount of positive feedback they’ve had so far proves just how great an event it is, and they’ve only just started with a couple of years under their belt.
Rainbow Serpent, January 27 - 30, 2017
The granddaddy of all Aussie "bush doofs" Rainbow Serpent isn’t as "boutique" as it used to be but we included it because it still has a strong sense of community, inclusiveness and to most who attend, feels smaller than it actually is. Celebrating 20 years in the game this year, Rainbow Serpent's close-knit vibe is all thanks to the people who attend, and its organizers. Spirituality and community are at the heart of this highly regarded festival, and you’ll encounter an abundance of colour, superb music and a legion of festies ready to make you feel right at home. Essential.
Chi Wow Wah Town, February 24-26, 2017
The team at Chi Wow Wah Town know their electronic music, that's for sure. With a wide range of European and U.S. luminaries on the bill, you will be enveloped in some of the freshest sounds from the worlds of house and techno in a unique Aussie forest location. Just looking at the amount of effort that goes into the design of their flyers and artwork demonstrates how focused they are on the visual side of their event as well as the music curation. Because of this, you get the best of everything, and the promise of an unforgettable adventure with likeminded party people.
Earth Frequency, February 17-20, 2017
As you can probably guess from the name, Earth Frequency concentrates on promoting sustainability and eco-consciousness while also showcasing arts and music from a variety of artists at a lovely location: Ivory's Rock in Queensland. It's a beautiful outdoor setting, with volcanic hills surrounding the site. It's actually said to have been the settlement to some of the first human inhabitants for thousands of years, thanks to the lush greenery and wildlife. Ivory's Rock hosts numerous events through the year, and Earth Frequency have now made it their home, too. Colour, art, healing, community and progressive attitudes make Earth Frequency a very special event indeed.
Blazing Swan, April 12 - 18, 2017
Like many of the other festivals in this list, Blazing Swan prides itself on inclusiveness and working to provide an environment where people can express themselves freely and without judgment. It's an ethos that quickly put them on the map and brought in thousands of festival lovers from across Australia and the rest of the world. Their efforts in promoting art and culture, as well as mindfulness and the expression of one's soul have made them one of the premier Australian arts fests.
Golden Plains, March 11 - 13, 2017
More wholesome, soul-enriching vibes here with Golden Plains. Taking place at the Meredith Supernatural Amphitheatre in Victoria, you'll experience an eclectic selection of music of a very high quality from artists as diverse as Nicolas Jaar, The Specials, Teenage Fanclub and Kurt Vile. Golden Plains operates on progressive ideas to keep everyone conscious and community-spirited, like their "No Dickhead" policy, whereby people are encouraged to call out bad behavior. They also utilize a "clean-up song," which is voted on by attendees early on in the festival which, when played, everyone gets up and helps clean up the festival site. Genius!
Luminate (New Zealand), February 1 - 8, 2017
Finally, we head over to New Zealand for the last of our Down Under festivals – but certainly not the least. With a firm focus on social responsibility and environmental awareness, Luminate reinforces the ethos of many of the festivals listed on this page, which is heartwarming and hugely encouraging. They are working towards minimizing waste, using conscious food suppliers, installing composting toilets and many other features to adhere to their eco-conscious ideology. On top of this, there's lots of great music and entertainment for kids and adults, health zones, movie screenings and a plethora of other activities and showcases to keep you engrossed for the entire duration of the event. And the location? It's in New Zealand, so of course it's breathtaking.
What are your favorite boutique festivals in the land Down Under?