Local politicians suggest Splendour In The Grass rethink capacity and location for future events

"It might have to be spread around other venues ... rather than having thousands and thousands of people in a flood prone area," said Ballina MP Tamara Smith

Local politicians are suggesting that Splendour In The Grass organisers should rethink the festival’s capacity and location for future events.

The Byron Bay festival faced numerous disruptions over the weekend, including staff shortages, heavy rainfall and site flooding. Mainstage performances scheduled for day one of three-day festival were cancelled after weather warnings were issued for the area, with transport delays and boggy campgrounds also affecting punters.

It was the first time the event was able to take place since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing its capacity from 35,000 to 50,000 attendees to mark its return. However, Byron Shire Mayor Michael Lyon told the ABC that he didn’t support the state government’s decision to allow the increase.

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“I was never really in favour of the increase, but it has nothing to do with us,” Lyon said. “Those approvals are run through the independent planning authority from the state government point of view. Given the year we’ve had, I think [the wet conditions were] … somewhat predictable.”

After wet conditions led to the cancellation of Friday’s programming, a number of artists hosted make-up shows in the Byron, Ballina and Tweed Shires areas. Speaking to the ABC, Ballina MP Tamara Smith said that this could be a model for future events.

“It may mean that we simply can’t have festivals like that,” she said of the flooding at the site. “It might have to be spread around other venues, which is what I know is what happened spontaneously… rather than having thousands and thousands of people in a flood prone area.”

NME has reached out to Lyon, Smith and Splendour representatives for comment.

Earlier today, festival organisers issued a wrap statement informing punters that they’d receive “proportionate refunds” for Friday’s cancellation. Friday ticketholders will receive a full refund for the day, while three-day ticketholders will receive $133 for general admission and $199 for VIP village.

“We apologise for any inconvenience you may have experienced at our 20th Splendour,” co-CEOs Jessica Ducrou and Paul Piticco said in a statement. “It certainly wasn’t our easiest show but even with the trials and tribulations we are so happy to be back with our Splendour family of patrons, our awesome event team, and our Australian music industry colleagues.”

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