Splendour in the Grass 2017 is fast approaching, and hoards of gumboot-loving Aussies are booking their trips to Byron Bay for the weekend of July 21 to 23. This year, a resurrected LCD Soundsystem will share the stage with the likes of Queens of the Stone Age, HAIM, RL Grime, Banks and Two Door Cinema Club. There's plenty of local favourites on the bill too, with Tash Sultana, King Gizzard, D.D Dumbo, Dune Rats and Big Scary and more locked in for the weekend.
One of the most perpetually praised coastal towns in Australia, Byron Bay is not only home to Splendour, but to breathtaking beaches, mountains, rivers and rainforests as well as a diverse, often experimental, grassroots foodie scene. Some Australian events (like this one) are worthy of a road trip, and aside from casual laziness and a little lack of inspiration, there's really nothing stopping you from squeezing Splendour into your schedule. We've teamed up with Mazda3 to help you plan your out-of-the-city trips ahead of time, so you can detour from your regular routine and inject a little adventure into your life. Here's how to spend the days before, after and during your Splendour trip — where to stay, what to do, and what to eat and drink in Byron Bay over the July 28 to 30 weekend.
Watermark on Wategos.
For those going for the classic Splendour experience, on-site camping will once again be available from July 19. If you're keen to camp but want to do it in style (and you have a stack of spare cash), Contiki is setting up their own glamping spot within the festival grounds — with packages including a ready-to-go, spacious twin share tent complete with a comfortable stretcher bed, keeping punters dry and comfy. Camping in the Contiki space also means a daily hot breakfast, exclusive access to a chill-out area — which includes couches and a ping pong table — and a private surprise performance by one of the Splendour acts (if James Murphy dropped by for a cheeky set, this luxe-camping situation would be well worth the price).
If you plan to stay in Byron itself and prefer the comfort of four walls, check out the breezy beachside suites at Watermark on Wategos — these luxurious properties are definitely for the more glamorous festival-goers who covet their beauty sleep. A little further afield is Alohas Villas Byron Bay, which offers a luxe oasis-style retreat with a cheaper price tag (it's not a beachfront property). If you're travelling to the festival with a big group, a share house like Beaumonts Beach House on Belongil is ideal, accommodating up to ten guests with four bedrooms, three bathrooms, an outdoor shower and an onsite barbecue.
NSW National Parks.
If you're staying in Byron, a morning trek around the Cape Byron Walking Track is a must-do. The 3.7-kilometre loop takes you through rainforest gullies and cliffs, complete with beach vistas and views of the Byron Bay Lighthouse. It's an ideal walk for spotting dolphins, turtles, and whales in July. If you're not too keen for an early morning hike before a day of partying, hit up Main Beach, which is the most popular in town for good reason — the golden beach is a short walk from the town centre and a dip in the crystal-clear blue water will get you invigorated for the day.
Once at the festival grounds, don't forget that Splendour isn't only about the unbeatable lineup — though, of course, that's the number one reason to attend. For thoughtful types, the Splendour Forum is open every day from 10am to 4pm, where some seriously smart minds will come together to cover topics such as censorship, the environment, politics, ethical conundrums and everything in between. For the more jovial folks, the Splendour Comedy Club is back for its fourth year, with 30 Australian acts taking the stage to give you yet another way to release those endorphins at the fest. Splendour in the Craft is also back again, letting you glitz up your festival outfit with glitter and pom poms, make charm bracelets for all of your new friends and even knit sweaters for orphaned animals. Apart from the main stages, festival-goers will also want to check out the Tipi Forest, which acts as the creative heart of Splendour and brings together DJs and performers, as well as psychedelic lightscapes, ephemeral art and ancient shelters, with everything culminating in one epic dance floor. The Global Village will also host a slew of fun acts, from cabaret performers, conscious theatre and jam bands, to live art classes, tarot card reading, circus acts and dance workshops.
The food lineup at Splendour is more than adequate every year, but we recommend you spend your time exploring Byron's serious foodie scene, which has everything from casual eateries to fine dining. Our favourite shop in town is Orgasmic Food, which hands down offers the best falafel we've ever had. This little Middle Eastern eatery provides some serious bang-for-your-buck eating, with the naked balls only 70 cents a pop, and the half pita pocket just $7.50.If you're a falafel naysayer, the menu has plenty of Middle Eastern favourites like beef kofta and lamb skewers. We like this institution so much, we listed it among our favourite restaurants in New South Wales worthy of a road trip.
If you're looking for some superfoods to start your day, Folk is the way to go — the adorable hut-like cafe focuses on organic, ethical and plant-based dishes that will get your engine going. Grabbing breakfast or an early lunch at 100 Mile Table is also a smart way to spend your pre-festival hours. A collaboration between chef Sarah Swan (ex-Rockpool Group) and wine expert Jeremy Burn (ex-Hipgroup in Auckland), the house-made chai here is a thing of legend, and the bacon and egg roll comes with house-made tomato jam. It's the perfect cure for that inevitable hangover you'll be nursing.
Stone and Wood.
If drinks are more your thing, head to the Stone and Wood brewery, one of our ten New South Wales breweries worthy of a road trip. The born and bred Byron Bay owners love the region and are a super friendly, welcoming bunch. The demand for Stone & Wood led to the 2014 opening of their nearby Murwillumbah brewery, making the Byron shed a place for limited release and experimental batches. If you have the time, order yourself a long lunch in the Byron Bay Brewery's laidback, leafy, sun-dappled beer garden. Order a few share plates, loaded with fresh ingredients like king prawns, market fish of the day and calamari, and graze the afternoon away. Don't leave without tasting your way through the brewery's creations, which are named after character types, like The Hazy One (cloudy pale lager) and The Bold One (a strong, bitter IPA).
Splendour in the Grass 2017 takes place at North Byron Parklands from July 21 to 23.