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Bluesfest Has Been Given a Provisional Green Light to Go Ahead at 50 Percent Capacity This April

A COVID-safe iteration with camping and an all-Australian lineup will take place over the Easter long weekend.
By Ben Hansen
February 18, 2021
By Ben Hansen
February 18, 2021

Throughout the last 12 months of gathering restrictions and lockdowns, many music festivals have teased returns, announced dates and even lineups. While a few COVID-safe music events have been able to take place, we've yet to see any of the major music festivals return.

Despite this, Byron Bay Bluesfest has been persistent in forging ahead with its plan for its 2021 edition of the festival. Those plans have now been given a provisional green light, with the festival announcing it's been given NSW Government approval to run the festival at 50 percent capacity this April — if no outbreaks occur beforehand.

In an announcement made on Wednesday, February 17, Bluesfest Festival Director Peter Noble OAM said, "The NSW Government has indicated that, if the current COVID-19 situation continues in NSW, Bluesfest would be permitted to proceed, following our comprehensive COVID-19 safety plan."

Hiatus Kaiyote Bluesfest 2016 by Andy Fraser

The festival is scheduled to take place  over the Easter long weekend, Thursday, April 1–Monday, April 5, at the Byron Events Farm (formerly Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm). Under the approved safety plan the festival will run at around 50 percent capacity, all patrons will be required to be seated while watching performances and COVID-19 safety marshals will be on hand to ensure social distancing is maintained. Camping will be allowed to go ahead and face masks will not be required. A full statement on the festival's COVID-safe protocols is expected next week.

Following the cancellation of Bluesfest 2020, the festival announced its 2021 dates and lineup back in July. This lineup was later amended after it became clear border restrictions would remain in place for the beginning of 2021 and international acts would be unable to make the journey over. The new all-Australian lineup features Jimmy Barnes, Tash Sultana, Ocean Alley, John Butler, Hiatus Kaiyote and Kev Carmody.

The news follows a turbulent few years for Bluesfest and the NSW music festival industry as a whole. Prior to the cancellation of its 2020 event, Bluesfest had threatened to leave NSW in 2019 citing the governments overbearing regulations surrounding music festivals at the time.

The approval of the 2021 festival hopefully indicates a brighter future for the industry, with Noble declaring, "this is a great day, not only for Bluesfest, but also for the Australian Live Music Industry and our unrelenting efforts to get back to presenting Live Music Safely."

Byron Bay Bluesfest has been given approval to run Thursday, April 1–Monday, April 5, at the Byron Events Farm. Find all the details and purchase tickets at the Bluesfest website.

Top image: Andy Fraser

Published on February 18, 2021 by Ben Hansen


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