Join like-minded souls at Australia's largest blues and roots festival, in Byron Bay.
By Ellie Schneider
Each year the Byron Bay Bluesfest attracts some of the world's biggest blues and roots performers for five days over the Easter long weekend (March or April). The festival delivers more than 200 gigs across multiple stages, as well as camping, food stalls and children's entertainment. Here are the highlights.
How to get there
Ballina Byron Gateway Airport is the closest airport to Byron Bay, about a half hour drive from town. The Gold Coast Airport is about 45 minutes drive away, and Brisbane International Airport is just under two hours drive from Byron Bay. Once you have arrived in Byron Bay, it’s a quick 15-minute shuttle bus ride to the Bluesfest site of Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm. There is ample free parking on site for festival ticket holders.
See the stars
Chill out as you listen to some of the biggest names in music, which in the past have included legends Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Crosby, Stills & Nash, alongside contemporary performers such as Kendrick Lamar, Jack Johnson and Alabama Shakes. This event has a reputation for securing top musical talent, and attracts a crowd of more than 100,000 people. For the latest updates and this year's lineup, check in with the events page. Tickets range from single-day to three-day and five-day passes.
Prepare to be surprised
Wander around the stages of the purpose-built festival site and discover new musical talent. With 100 bands performing during the festival, there's plenty of opportunity to broaden your horizons. It's not unusual at Bluesfest for musicians from one band to join another band on stage, creating unforgettable performances. You’ll also spot roving buskers (street performers) who were picked to perform at Bluesfest through the Bluesfest Busking Competition, which takes part in and around Byron Bay in the lead-up to the festival.
Set up camp
Pack your tent and enjoy an authentic music festival experience. More than 6,000 fans sleep at the festival's designated campsites at Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm. Veteran festival goers recommend camping on site to avoid parking and travelling times, and you'll pitch your tent just steps away from the Bluesfest entrance. The campground offers an on-site café (where you can pick up hot breakfast and coffee), laundry, toilets and showers. For those who don't have a tent, the organisers offer a tent motel (with the option of two or three beds) and upmarket canvas teepees, which sleep three to five people. Of course, if you prefer the comfort of a bed, there is plenty of accommodation in Byron Bay and other nearby towns.
Join the Boomerang festivities
Take part in the Boomerang Festival at Bluesfest, which celebrates Australasia's indigenous cultures through traditional and contemporary music, dance and workshops, and features some of the world's oldest instruments and rituals. Join weaving circles, carving, drumming and traditional Maori healing with elders, at the indigenous arts precinct within Bluesfest.
Sample delicious food
Festival goers can expect an abundance of food stalls, covering a variety of different cuisines, including Japanese, Indian, Malaysian and Mexican. The festival grounds include an undercover food court, coffee tent and licensed bars, and you're guaranteed to find something to satisfy all palates. There are also market stalls selling merchandise, clothing and accessories.
Hang out in Byron Bay
After the festival leave a couple of days to explore Byron Bay. Australia's most easterly town is renowned for its fabulous beaches, healthy cafés and fashion boutiques, and celebrated for its alternative lifestyle. During April temperatures are generally warm, in the mid-20s Celsius (mid to high 70s Fahrenheit) – perfect conditions in which to unwind after a five-day music festival.