This part of the year is always unabashedly ruthless on our wallets. Once the mercury begins to rise up from the icy grips of Winter, festival promoters unleash hell. Once upon a time the choices were a little slimmer and thus, the psychological damage of making decisions about which Summer shindig to attend was a little less devastating.
But in recent years, as the bigger festivals have either fallen or taken a different route, boutique incarnations have popped up, each as alluring as the last. If you suck at making decisions about where to blow your hard-earned dollars as much as we do, and haven’t bought at least one ticket for a Summer festival yet, we’re here to help friend. Here are 10 killer Australian boutique festivals you need to know about this festival season.
It’s the golden age of boutique festivals, and while that’s something to celebrate, the decision making process can sometimes be too much. Happy is here to help. Here are 10 amazing boutique festivals you need to know about this festival season.
Fairgrounds Festival – Berry, NSW
One of the newcomers to the boutique music fest game, Fairgrounds Festival made a pretty solid debut in 2015. Located in the lush surrounds of Berry on the South Coast of NSW, Fairgrounds is a classic, activity packed family focused holiday, only there are a shit load of really, really good bands playing. Boasting a lineup featuring, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Ratatat, Royal Headache and Father John Misty among others, Fairgrounds is set to be a pretty well rounded weekend with activities like moonlit movies (they’re playing Searching For Sugarman, booyah) and the ‘Playground’ kids festival.
Beyond The Valley, Lardner VIC
Beyond The Valley has become one of the big guns of the Aussie festival market in just two short years. 2014 was a major success for the BTV team and 2015 saw them follow up with guns blazing. With genres being represented across the board (more or less), the festival boasts a lineup featuring the likes of Boys Noize, Jamie XX, Flight Facilities, San Cisco, Ivan Ooze, RL Grime and Last Dinosaurs spread across three days over New Years. A pretty solid way to ring in 2016 if you ask me.
Mountain Sounds – Mt Penang Parklands NSW
A solid replacement for the beloved Peats Ridge Fest, Mountain Sounds Festival is located in the spectacular Mt Penang Parklands in NSW’s Central Coast. Just an hour out of Sydney, Mountain Sounds also made a pretty massive debut in 2014. This year the MSF folk have conjured a pretty impressive lineup featuring The Strokes‘ Albert Hammond Jr alongside of slew of your favourite locals like Alpine, Green Buzzard, Hockey Dad, Holy Holy and The Jezabels. Although the festival only takes place on the one day, you can camp across the entire weekend. Tickets are cheap as hell too, coming in at under 100 clams.
Panacea Music & Yoga Festival – Benalla, VIC
We’ve noticed all these festivals are missing one thing: yoga. Panacea Music & Yoga Festival saw a gap in the Aussie boutique festival market and took no time in filling it. Panacea is a festival for the mind, body and soul; a super intimate (1000 cap) offering that features bands (The Delta Riggs, Drunk Mums, Leah Senior and The Belligerents are just a few of the 50 plus acts playing) across two days, plus a whole bunch of yoga and hip-hop workshops, art classes and some much needed meditation all included in the ticket.
Festival of the Sun – Port Macquarie, NSW
Probably the most alluring sounding festival on this list, FOTS takes places in the coastal town of Port Mac, pretty much smack between Sydney and Brisbane. The festival is a pretty classic take on the Summer festival with Aussie hip-hop and rock ‘n’ roll taking the fore of the lineup. This year looks like it could very well be a condensed version of the Big Day Out with Illy, Thundamentals, British India and Jebediah headlining, and that is most definitely a compliment.
Sugar Mountain – Melbourne, VIC
Located at the Victorian College of the Arts and the Melbourne Arts Precinct, Sugar Mountain is little different. Penned as a summit of music and art, the festival is a celebration of creativity in different formats, boasting an eclectic lineup of artists, visual, musical and conceptual. The lineup includes the legendary Dirty Three, Courtney Barnett, Roland Tings and Royal Headache amongst many others, plus art from the likes of NONOTAK, Daniel Askill and Nic Hamilton. It’s a good chance to show off your more sophisticated side, if that’s your kind of thing.
Lost Paradise – Glenworth Valley, NSW
Beyond the Valley’s arch nemesis (probably) Lost Paradise is the NSW equivalent for a three day New Years party. That being said, the two pretty much tie for best choice for NYE 2015/2016. Located in the Glenworth Valley on the Central Coast of NSW, Lost Paradise exudes a pretty magical experience with a huge NYE dress up party, the Cabinet of Curiosities, horse-riding, abseiling, skinny dipping, kayaking – oh and a lineup featuring Angus and Julia Stone, Jamie XX, Seekae, Four Tet, Crazy Penis, City Calm Down and The Babe Rainbow.
Mullum Music Fest – Mullumbimby, NSW
Spanning three days with a diverse lineup of folk, indie, blues, roots and electronic artists, Mullum Music Fest has a pretty long tradition of turning a quaint town into a massive party. Located about 15 minutes away from Byorn Bay. The festival takes places across a variety of venues in the town with the likes of Mt Warning, Montaigne, Tinpan Orange and All Our Exes Live In Texas taking the stage. The festival also has a pretty awesome mentor program where young local artists get paired up with some of the performers for a little knowledge transfer. Solid community spirit.
Paradise Music Festival – Lake Mountain Alpine Resort, VIC
As a hybrid indoor/outdoor, three day, mountaintop camping festival – Paradise sticks out from the rest of the pack. Taking place amidst the Victorian alpine forest, it sounds like a pretty magical experience. All daytime sets take place in the grassy outdoor amphitheater, but when the sun goes down, everyone makes their way to Clubland – a luxurious indoor club. This year there are a slew of top local acts taking the stage at Paradise including Roland Tings, Black Vanilla, Tired Lion, The Harpoons, Flyying Colours, Darts, Totally Mild plus way more.
Wonderland Festival – Perth, WA
A lot of these festivals are laced with magical undertones, no doubt borrowed from the myriad boutique festivals that are scattered around Europe during the warmer seasons; Wonderland is no exception. Penned as a free-roaming festival across Perth, the festival has taken place in gardens, rooftops and forest amphitheaters. This year the festival is “taking to the skies” – an ambiguous description that is pretty damn intriguing. Alison Wonderland, Dune Rats, Broods and Koi Child are just a few of the acts playing across the day.