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Byron Shire
December 9, 2023

Falls Fest falls for Byron

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Falls festival director Brandon Saul (centre) with architect Dominic Finlay Jones, left, and North Byron Parklands manager Mat Morris on the site for the Falls Festival to be held at a different part of the North Byron Parklands site at Yelgun. Photo Jeff ‘Stumbles’ Dawson


Mandy Nolan

For the past 20 years the Falls Music and Arts Festival has been running in Victoria’s seaside town of Lorne. For ten years a sister event has occurred in Tasmania’s Marion Bay. It seems fitting then that the third younger sister event should belong to Australia’s other alternative coastal mecca, Byron Bay.

The North Byron Parklands at Yelgun will be the site of this iconic event that festival director Brandon Saul believes will have a distinctly ‘Byron feel’.

‘The Falls Music and Arts Festival has a very Byron feel’, he says. ‘People are friendly, it’s colourful, diverse, and there’s a great sense of community and respect.

‘There are a lot of activities to get involved in, alongside great music from across the spectrum. I’m really looking forward to working with local talent in this area to bring a unique Byron flavour to this edition of Falls.’

As the mud settles on the first Splendour in the Grass held at North Byron Parklands, the Falls Festival team has used the opportunity to assess what worked and what didn’t with regards to the site and access.

‘We’re getting in and doing some serious work on the site to ensure it’s ready for Falls and that people can enter and exit efficiently,’ says Brandon.

‘There will be two access points, frequent shuttle buses, marshals at each off-site bus stop, 1-3 day car passes as well as designated “kiss-and-drop” areas.

‘General admission camping is free, as it is at all Falls Festivals, arranged in precincts with a village hub for each area with a café, camping marshal, showers, toilets and an information point. At the festival itself there will be mist tents for people to cool off, plenty of drinking water and lots of different areas for people to hang out under the trees, chill out and relax.’

Originally proposed as a January event at the North Byron Parklands site at Yelgun, organisers of the Falls Festival were asked by Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson to hold it over the New Years Eve period, as a component of the Council’s new Safe Summer and Cultural Activities strategy aimed at reclaiming the Byron Bay township for family friendly activities.

Working together

The Falls Festival and Byron Council are working together closely to provide a controlled, safe and fun environment for the 18+ demographic outside the town.

In fact if any promoter in the country knows how to manage large numbers of people safely and efficiently over New Years it’s Brandon.

His company Mi5 were charged with creating and managing an appropriate event for Bondi Beach’s busiest night, marrying dance music with family friendly activities and moving up to 20,000 people out in 20 minutes.

Brandon is confident that his experience troubleshooting in one of Australia’s most iconic beach locations will help inform him with some strategies and solutions for managing some of the issues facing Byron Bay over New Year.

Falls is not a mega festival. Approved for 15,000 (10,000 less than Splendour), it will be presented over two stages and located on a unique part of the land that will embrace the features of the area including natural amphitheatres, shade trees and lakeside viewing.

Event organisers have already started working on the land to ensure it’s ready for patrons (and all weather conditions) this December.

Alongside diverse music and arts programming the organisers are offering patrons free camping. Brandon is also ensuring that patrons don’t have to negotiate long walks during the heat of summer by providing onsite parking much closer to the festival site.

Falls will be the first medium-capacity event approved for the North Byron Parklands site. Programming will be running throughout the event on two main stages with the addition of an arts precinct for interactive, eclectic activities, which will be curated by Mullumbimby local Glenn Wright (director of the Mullum Music Festival) and Falls Festival Byron Bay director Brandon Saul in collaboration with local organisations, performers and artisans, drawing on the wealth of talent in the area.

Falls Festival dates:

Dec 28 – Jan 1 in Lorne, VIC (est. 1993) 18+ event

Dec 29 – Jan 1 in Marion Bay, TAS (est. 2003) all ages

Dec 31 – Jan 3 in Byron Bay, NSW (est. 2013) 18+ event

More info at www.fallsfestival.com


Some of the highlight acts announced for the festival are: Violent Femmes, The Cat Empire, Neil Finn, Chet Faker, Rufus, Bombino, Crystal Fighters, London Grammar and White Denim.









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