Why Aussie music festivals need a safety net for adverse weather

“The festivals that we know and love may not survive,” industry reps say of the host of festivals cancelled due to adverse weather this year.  

Australia’s music festival sector has pleaded for a weather insurance scheme, following the cancellation of more than a dozen music events due to challenging conditions this year. In an interview with The Guardian published today, the Australian Festival Association warned that the sector faces an unsuccessful 2023 season, particularly as the La Niña system persists well into March. “The festivals that we know and love may not survive if they don’t have a successful first season back after Covid,” AFA managing director Mitch Wilson said.

Wilson admitted that festivals have “struggled to stay alive” this year, despite the government’s introduction of a $22 million live performance support fund in September. That scheme only applied to those festivals impacted by mandatory isolation requirements regarding the pandemic and has since been made redundant following the government’s lifting of restrictions in early October. United Workers Union director Karma Lord said the government’s insurance schemes should now shift from the pandemic to the climate.

wet weather music festival
Credit: Marc Grimwade/ WireImage/Getty Images

Outdoor music festivals are a rite of passage for young people, but in 2022 we saw just how vulnerable they are to extreme weather events like floods,” Lord told The Guardian. That shift aligns with a study the Union conducted earlier this month, in which 40% of voters aged 18-24 wanted the NSW government to offer public funding to help flood-proof outdoor music events. Joining the efforts for a climate safety net, Live Performance Australia has pleaded for a purpose-built scheme to cover weather-driven cancellations.

laneway festival
Credit: BCS Imaging / Laneway Festival

The efforts bookend what has been a majorly disrupted 2022 festival calendar across Australia. Heavy rain, floods and storms brought on by La Niña have seen the cancellation of a host of outdoor music events, with Victoria’s Hopkins Creek the most recent festival to announce its postponement. “Mother Nature has delivered her unrelenting final word,” Hopkins Creek organisers wrote of the cancellation last month. 


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Prior to that, Strawberry Fields was likewise forced to scrap its 2022 edition due to conditions that organisers said they had “never witnessed before.” Canberra’s The Grass is Greener, both editions of This That, Almost Summer, and the mainstage performances of Splendour In The Grass’ first day were among the other festivals to be cancelled or disrupted due to weather.