The final Hills Are Alive Festival is going out with a bang

Enchanting punters for the past ten years with its incredible lineups, friendly vibes and spectacular views, The Hills Are Alive music and comedy festival is back again for a particularly special instalment in 2019.  

In the rolling hills of South Gippsland, for three days and two nights at the end of March, a truly exciting weekend awaits. This year marks the final instalment of the much loved event, at least for the foreseeable future, but audiences can rest assured that this chapter will be an absolute blowout. 

”There’s a few things up our sleeves that the punters will be very happy about, I can’t reveal too much but yeah … we’ll look after them quite well for this last event,” says festival director Aidan McLaren, who caught up with us to talk music, comedy and why the festival is so damn magical.

Starting from humble roots as a welcome home party for McLaren on his family’s dairy farm near Loch Village, the festival has always been a haven for musicians and their mates.

“Back in 2008 I was living overseas in Germany. I was a touring muso struggling away in the German winters and hadn’t been home in a few years,” McLaren explains. “I spoke to my parents and asked if we could have a welcome home party for me and they were like ‘yep’ so we ended up putting on 12 friends’ bands … 334 friends of friends came and partied the weekend away and that was the first ever Hills.”

Since then, The Hills has grown considerably with the help of their insane lineups, exclusive password scheme and commitment to great vibes, and this year is no different. Featuring over 30 bands and performers, there is plenty to keep you on the hill all day long. 

“We spend so long trying to find the right bands to bring out because there’s quite a discerning audience, so the bands that play have to be great, whether people know them or not,” says McLaren. “That’s something we’ve focused on over the years – I think we’ve gotten really good at picking bands that, by the time the festival comes around, they’re a lot bigger than when we booked them,” he laughs. 

“As years go on, a lot of them go on to do really great things so I think that’s a special thing, the programming is really diverse but it’s [also] really high quality.”

One of McLaren’s picks for an unmissable set this year is Canberra-based hip hop musician Genesis Owusu. “I think he’s just such an amazing artist and incredible live show and I think he’s a name that will hit the international scene in the years to come,” McLaren says.

Guests can also look forward to a heap of amazing activities and experiences all around the festival grounds including table tennis, singalongs in the karaoke tent, field games or simply checking out the famous sunset in their ‘Edge of the World’ bar. Speaking of drinks, while the festival is completely BYO, there are four licensed bars to check out over the weekend for those looking for something a little extra.

And if that isn’t enough, there’s the ‘COWmedy THAAtre Stage’ where comedians are waiting to give it their all between the music.

“[The comedians] have become a massive part of it in the past few years. We’ve got Aaron Gocs who’s amazing, Marcus Ryan who’s internationally renowned. They operate between the bands so you never miss anything but you get a great variety of laughing with your mates,” McLaren explains.

So whatever your interest, there is something for everyone to enjoy. “You can literally sit in front of the stage with your own esky and have three days of amazing music and comedy,” says McLaren. “Fingers crossed we get some great weather and some great sunsets and I think it’s going to be a special one.”

By Eliza Booth

The Hills Are Alive takes place from Friday March 29 to Sunday March 31 in the hills of South Gippsland. Hit up the festival’s website to check out the lineup and tickets.