Let’s have a BluesFest this Easter

This Easter will be different for many reasons.

No family gatherings, nature trips, religious celebrations, meetings with friends… All the events that normally take place over this festive weekend have either been cancelled or postponed. And for the first time in its 30-year history there will be no Bluesfest, either.


If you’ve never heard of Bluesfest, here are some handy facts:

Event type: music festival

Start date: Easter 1990

Genre: blues/roots primarily

Frequency: annual

Duration: 5 days (multiple stages)

Home: Byron Bay, NSW surroundings

Visitors: approximately 100,000 (currently)

Founder: Peter Noble

Awards: too many to mention; recently – 2019 Best Regional Event – Australian Event Awards

Most famous international acts: countless, i.e. Bob Dylan, Robert Plant, David Gray, Patti Smith, Erykah Badu, Keith Urban, John Legend.

Bluesfest holds a special place in the Australian festival history because of its beautiful location on the NSW coast, killer line-ups over the years (Dave Matthews Band!) and the not-so-commercial music genres it represents. It’s true that it’s changed heaps over the three decades, opening up to a wider variety of genres (like hip hop and Kendrick Lamar). But there are also other reasons why it stands out.

For starters, it puts on a busking competition in the week leading up to the festival in Byron Bay itself. The winners get to play at some of the stages at the main event, are offered possibilities of further development and paid gigs, plus awesome merch, gifts and the exposure. It looks like legends and megastars do happen to mix up with emerging artists after all.

The event has a charitable aspect as well. For 24 years punters and performers alike have been raising money for a good cause through the Cystic Fibrosis Guitar Raffle. Over $655,000 has already been donated to fund research and provide other, essential services to those affected by the disease. There are 3 guitars to be won in the raffle, signed by the acts performing at the festival every year.

For the 2020 edition the organisers partnered for a special experience with one of the most internationally known Australian wineries, Jacob’s Creek. It was meant to give you “an epic wine and music multi-sensory tasting” because, apparently, the music you listen to can influence your perception of the wine you’re savouring. Hopefully, they will carry it over to the 2021 edition, too.

Bluesfest tickets might not be the cheapest but – considering the experience as a whole – it’s worth jeopardising paying your rent for a month (just kidding – pay your bills first!).

Even though the 2020 event is no longer, the organisers already claim that next year is a go. The only problem is the line-up – it’s not easy to confirm all the acts a year in advance. No matter who will perform, though, I’m pretty certain that faithful Bluesfest patrons will show their support. And because we won’t be able to experience it in 2020, I have come up with an alternative solution.

Bluesfest is an international festival and many times overseas acts have headlined it. But quite a few local ones, less or more famous, have also graced the stages over the years. So I’ve chosen one Aussie name from every line-up since 1990 and included it in the below playlist. You’ll be surprised how musically diverse it is. And I bet you haven’t heard of at least half of the acts before.

So do have a listen. It’s the right vibe for Easter. And have a happy one, despite everything 🙂

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