Easter Fests Draw Huge Crowds

Three of the largest Australian festivals staged over the Easter weekend reported huge attendance despite changing formats or sites this year.

The Bluesfest in Byron Bay got the thumbs-up for its new 160-hectare tree farm from the 80,000 attendees who said the flatter terrain allowed them quicker movement between the six stages.

This year’s bill was its strongest, to celebrate its 21st birthday.

It included wildly received sets from Jack Johnson, John Butler Trio, Jeff Beck, Crowded House, Bela Fleck and African singer Oumou Sangare, Buddy Guy, Dr. John, Matisyahu and Lyle Lovett.

Festival director Peter Noble reported, “What a range we had this year – our youngest musician was a 12-year-old son playing in Johnny Green’s Blues Cowboys, all the way up to a couple of fabulous 85-year-olds in Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club!”

The five-day National Folk Festival in Canberra this year combined with the previously stand-alone Fringe Festival.

The Saturday night drew 15,000, setting a record for single-day attendance.

Managing director Sebastian Flynn, delighted with the presence of younger audiences, has plans to expand the brand by holding events through the year or setting up a Folk Museum in Canberra.

The Christian get-together Easterfest in Toowoomba, Queensland, ran in Queens Park alongside the city’s activities including church services and a street festival.

The festival drew a record 45,000 to see a bill headlined by Newsboys.

Other acts included Superchick, Stan Walker, As I Lay Dying, Hawke Nelson and Sanctus Real, with the new Arena stage showcasing acoustic shows in the evenings.