Thursday April 9 – Monday April 13.
The 300-acre Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm, 11km outside of Byron Bay. There are shuttle bus options from local airports and major townships nearby, as well as parking options for those who want to drive to and from the festival site.
With some time to go until next year’s party, Bluesfest is still rolling out its full line-up, but so far it has confirmed the likes of Dave Matthews Band, Crowded House, Patti Smith and Her Band, George Benson, Brandi Carlile, John Butler, Xavier Rudd, The Cat Empire, Morcheeba and more.
No BYO options for alcohol unfortunately, but there are five bars within the festival site, so you’ll have no trouble staying well-lubricated.
How it stands apart
The festival would truly be nothing without its relentlessly top-notch line-up. It has definitely branched out into other genres from its blues and roots beginnings, but the quality of acts on offer is always high.
In the world of Australian festivals, Bluesfest is the stuff of legend. 2020 is Bluesfest’s 31st year and it’s one of the biggest festivals in the country, always featuring a world-class lineup of Australian and international music icons, which is why it attracts up to 125,000 punters a year. It’s a celebration of blues ‘n’ roots music and beyond.
The festival is single-use plastic free, so make sure you bring your reusable water bottle. All food waste goes to local piggeries/composting centres. There’s also a waste sorting centre and koala plantation management on site.
What to bring
Heaps of the artists sell merch or do record signings at the merch tent after their sets, so don’t forget to take that favourite vinyl you’ve been wanting to get inked and don’t be shy in asking for a sneaky selfie, too.
Other things worth bringing are a raincoat, insect repellent and your best gumboots. While there are undercover areas at the stages, getting from one tent to another is an open-air experience and the ground turns to mud pretty quickly once the rains set in. But don’t be precious about it – it’s all part of the fun!
Five-day VIP access (which you purchase on top of your regular ticket and includes access to the VIP lounge) will set you back around $400, while three-day access is around $300.
Parking, camping and accommodation
There are a number of different camping options available onsite and parking is available for both campers and attendees.
Volunteer opportunities are opening soon; you have to work 25 hours over the five-day festival or 25 hours pre and post festival.
In addition to the main festival, there is also the concurrent Boomerang Festival, which features First Nations dancers, musicians and artists, curated by Festival Director and Bundjalung woman, Rhoda Roberts. Kids are also welcome to attend Bluesfest and there are kid-friendly activities and even a kids tent.
Tip for first-timers
If you go home without braving the queue at the organic doughnut stall, did you really do Bluesfest all?
Also, get hold of the set times and stages as early as possible and go to town with your highlighter. At Bluesfest, each act generally plays more than once, so you’d have to be unlucky to miss a headliner completely – but you do need a strategy to ensure you tick all your bucket list music boxes and don’t end up a pile of hungover regrets once the party’s over.
One must-see performer
Patti Smith and Her Band. Who knows if this will be her last time Down Under.
One costume recommendation
Don’t say no to tie-dye! The perfect Bluesfest costume is something colourful, with a nod to Byron’s hippie culture, that’s suitable for the unpredictable weather around Easter in the tropical surrounds of Byron Bay.
One drink that encapsulates Bluesfest
There’s nothing more Bluesfest than sipping on an icy Byron Bay Brewery beer while taking in some tunes.
Ticket prices for the festival depend on how many days you want to attend and when you buy them – the earlier you commit, the cheaper your ticket is likely to be. At the time of printing, single day tickets are $190, three-day tickets are $400 and five-day tickets are $600.
Grab your tickets and find out more about Bluesfest at bluesfest.com.au.