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News February 7, 2023

Australian Summer Festivals Return To Pre-COVID Numbers

Australian Summer Festivals Return To Pre-COVID Numbers

Figures released by major Australian summer festivals including Laneway, Tamworth Country Music (TCMF), Falls and Woodford Folk – some returning after three years due to COVID – generated pre-pandemic crowd numbers.

They showed how essential they are in generating income for their local regions.

Many promoters had earlier told TMN they expected softer figures caused by fear of inflation, high fuel prices, and ongoing effects of flooding in several states.

Laneway’s first weekend set new records with 46,000 attending the Brisbane and Sydney editions.

Co-founders Danny Rogers and Jerome Borazio said, “It was awesome to see new festival goers attending for the first time ever and our regular fans returning to support us and the incredible 2023 line-up.”

The festival now heads to new venues in Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth.

TCMF (January 13 to 22) last week revealed that it drew over 30,000 each day over the ten-day period, and generated $60 million.

Venues and artists reported sell-outs while the opening concert at Toyota Park had 8,000.

Traditionally, 60% of the crowd comes from outside the region and 10% from metro areas.

In recent years there have been more urban 18—34-year-olds attending as they “discover” country music through Americana artists.

Festival manager Barry Harley said the event, in its 51st year, “is proud to own the title of the nation’s largest country music event and it definitely lived up to the hype, with great crowd numbers across the 10 days.”

Falls’ return after three years drew nearly  65,000 to see and a bill topped by Arctic Monkeys and Lil Nas X … and The OG Wiggles igniting with a cover of The Chats’ “Pub Feed” with Wags the Dog, Dorothy the Dinosaur and Captain Feathersword in tow.

Melbourne had almost 20,000 at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl (December 29–31), Byron Bay close to 20,000 at North Byron Parklands while Fremantle Park (January 7 and 8) had over 20,000 at the new downtown site.

Producers Jessica Ducrou and Paul Piticco responded, “What a massive run of shows! Huge thanks to our Falls community for their ongoing support and love for the festival, as well as to everyone that has helped make the return of Falls 2022/2023 such a success. See you next year!”

The folks behind Queensland’s Woodford Folk are still crunching final numbers, but told TMN it was expected to be an aggregated 120,000 over six days from December 27 to January 1.

It returned to full power after three years due to COVID restrictions, with the state government promising it $4 million over the next four years.

Woodford Folk brings in $25 million to the local Moreton Bay region.

“What makes us proud is we are contributors to the economy, we know that 35 per cent of everybody at this festival is across the border from interstate.”

Fuzzy’s Field Day brought 27,000 to a sell-out at Sydney’s Domain on New Years Day after being cancelled in 2021 and pared down in 2022.

Victoria’s Meredith Music (December 9-11) had an aggregated 37,500 or 12,500 a day. As usual it sold out four months ahead, with two ticket ballots and tens of thousands applying to be volunteers doing eight-hour shifts from directing traffic to cleaning loos to get inside the gates.

The Parkes Elvis Festival pumped in $15 million with 25,000 heading to the regional NSW hamlet with Elvis impersonators, buskers, a Miss Priscilla lookalike competition, and hundreds sporting leis, floral shirts and grass skirts to fit in with this year’s theme, his movie Blue Hawaii.

Cygnet Folk in Tasmania had a homecoming after cancelling last year and drew 6,000 over three days (January 13 to 15).

Returning after three years, Festivale in Tasmania (February 3-5) sold out 85% of its 30,000 tickets three weeks out, with promoters warning there’d be no sales at the gates.

The strong sales over summer are seeping over into autumn.

BASSINTHEGRASS in Darwin on May 20 is already close to a sell-out according to the NT government, with Amy Shark, Angus and Julia Stone, Baker Boy, Guy Sebastian, Tones and I, MAY-A, Ocean Alley, Peach PRC, The Presets, San Cisco, Spacey Jane and Steph Strings.

Last year it reached a new high of 16,000 at Mindil Beach, 5500 from outside the NT.

Independent data from the NT Major Events Company found the May 21 event generated an expenditure stimulus of $15.8 million – 70 per cent ($11.1 million) of it new money to the NT.

Organisers of the inaugural Country Fest 2023 in coastal Midge Point in Mackay are expecting 10,000 to Dittmann Bucking Bull and Bull Pit Arena March 10-11. US star Kip Moore is headlining.

But it hasn’t all been good news. Last week Jungle Love in Queensland cancelled its 2023 edition in September, after a financial struggle these past years due to COVID.

Issues caused by COVID also saw Grass Is Greener going administration over the holidays, owing up to  $3.9 million to 1035 creditors.

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