explainer

An apology and six-hour bus queues: Why everyone is talking about Splendour in the Grass.

Annual Northern Byron Parklands festival, Splendour in the Grass, has returned for the first time in three years... but has been unceremoniously hit by wet and wild weather. There were last-minute cancellations, flooding, and 12-hour-long campground queues.

Yes, 12-hour queues. Our question is: How did people go to the bathroom during that time?

Anyway, ICYMI: Splendour in the Grass (SITG) is a multi-day music festival that was set to take place over three days from Friday to Sunday, with a star-studded lineup including the Gorillaz, The Strokes, Tyler the Creator, Kacey Musgraves and more. 

But, when hundreds showed up to Byron on July 22, they were met with the news that all headline acts on day one were cancelled, and struggled long into the night to make it into the flooded campgrounds.

So, how did we get here?

On Thursday evening, hundreds of festival-goers arrived at Northern Byron Parklands to set up camp ahead of SITG, which officially kicked off on Friday.

But because of a severe weather event that lashed the campgrounds with torrential rain, many attendees were stuck waiting in their cars for up to 12 hours before getting a spot on (very muddy) ground, while others had to sleep in their vehicles.

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By Friday morning, SITG organisers announced they would not accept any more vehicles at the original campground, and urged campers to "proceed to Byron Events Farm" - a 13.5km drive away.

They also shared a post that ensured ticket holders the show would go on: "rain, hail or shine."

But, by the afternoon, Splendour shared a second post announcing that all 'main stage performances' were cancelled for day one.

“A significant weather system is currently sitting off the east coast and may reach land later today, bringing more rainfall," they wrote.

“In the interest of patron safety and in consultation with all relevant emergency services, we have decided to err on the side of caution and cancel performances on the main stages today only – Amphitheatre, Mix Up, GW McLennan and Park (Land) Stages.

“In the coming week, Moshtix will be in contact with the ticket holders affected directly via the email address used to purchase their ticket for further information on refunds.

“We ask for patience while we work through the refund process. Please be assured that our event team is working very hard to provide the best experience possible under the current circumstances.

“We look forward to Saturday and Sunday programming moving ahead as planned.”

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A three-day ticket to the festival cost $415.19. To camp is an additional $100-$300.

By Friday evening, many festival-goers moved to Byron Bay where some headline acts regrouped.

What's happened since? 

Day two has gone ahead as planned, with headliners including Jack Harlow, Glass Animals, The Strokes and Oliver Tree.

The Saturday crowd numbers picked up while repair crews worked on pumping out the water.

The festival is set to wrap up today following days of severe wet weather. 

The final day of the festival will have nicer, sunnier weather, according to reports. While a number of headline acts were cancelled on Friday, organisers have pushed ahead with the event. 

However, those trying to exit Byron Bay's Splendour in the Grass reportedly spent up to six waiting in the queues for buses.

Furious, exhausted festival-goers aired their disappointment in having to wait hours to get home, with one person taking to Twitter to say, "It wasn't the mud that made me disappointed at Splendour in the Grass this year, it was the management's complete failure to provide bus shuttle services as promised - 2,3 and 4-hour waits are just ruined the event completely."

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Another called out the limited police resources: "Scores of NSW police blocking up queues getting into #Splendour yesterday but then no sign of them at the end of the night when the bus queues desperately needed management and security."

The campgrounds at Byron Bay. Image: 9News

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How have people reacted?

Online, people have been somewhat amused by the festival's ongoing issues.

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But those attending the festival have struggled to find the funny side.

One attendee told the Today Show on Saturday morning that the advice they've received from the customer help safety line is to "get drunk and fall asleep in your cars", because they can't leave the festival.

"I think we're all just past the point of wanting to see the music," she added.

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According to organisers, day two went ahead as planned, and day three is expected to follow suit. 

Co-owner of Splendour In The Grass, Jessica Ducrou, has issued an apology on behalf of organisers for the lack of communication.

"Obviously we were dealing with the inclement conditions and just wanted to make sure we could operate the show," she said.

This article was published on July 23, 2022 and has since been updated with new information.

Feature Image: Getty / 9News.

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