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Is Australia's festival scene the best it's ever been?

A slew of small festivals are keeping the country's scene firing

  • Words: Scott Carbines | Image: Cai Griffin
  • 31 May 2016
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The use of “boutique” as a descriptor for festivals, as Cawood refers to, was born from the dominance of large scale touring events, such as Stereosonic, at the time comparatively smaller events started to work their way onto the scene.

Let Them Eat Cake, a New Year’s Day festival held at Werribee Mansion near Melbourne, was among those labeled with the tag when it started in 2013.

Also run by the guys behind Strawberry Fields, in partnership with a few other Melbourne crews, LTEC has an identity defined by its iconic location in the mansion’s lavish gardens and an aim to deliver a solid one-day experience, according to Benney.

Another smaller one-day location-oriented Melbourne festival is Sugar Mountain, which started at The Forum theatre in 2011 before being relocated to the precinct around the Victorian College of The Arts in 2015.

“Sugar Mountain is a place for creativity to be absorbed and celebrated,” the festival’s managing director Tig Huggins says. “The festival creates an environment that is convivial and interactive, with performances and spaces that remain with the audience long after the festival finale.”

He also said that smaller, lower risk festivals now made up the bulk of the festival market in Australia, as opposed to the large scale touring brands of the past 10 years.

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