The first Splendour in the Grass festival in three years was partially cancelled on day one, after wild weather caused chaos at the North Byron Parklands site. Organisers blamed understaffing and wilder-than-expected weather, but punters who spent up to 15 hours lining up in their car are calling for refunds; one person described it as “the grimmest night of my life”.
Organisers had pledged earlier on Friday that “the show will go on”, before later cancellation all main stage performances “in the interest of patron safety”.
The festival grounds and campsite were lashed with heavy rains, leaving significant parts of the grounds unusable. Festival goers arriving at the campsite on Thursday faced 15 hour queues to enter, with some people resorting to sleeping in their cars. Others who had made it into the campsite were forced to sleep in their cars anyway after their tents were flooded.
“This is the grimmest night of my life,” attendee Jacqui Withers told the Sydney Morning Herald.
On Friday morning, Splendour organisers said they were unable to accept any more campers or vehicles at the North Byron Parklands spot, instead directing patrons to a nearby parking area and saying shuttle busses would be provided.
“We thank you for your patience here and big shout out to our staff who are working around Mother Nature to get you in here safely,” organisers said. “Please be kind and patient.”
By Friday afternoon, organisers were asking day patrons not to attend the festival that day while “we work on repairs”, but said the festival’s destination spaces — including the Global Village, Tipi Forest, Forum, Comedy and Science tents would remain open.
They also warned of a “significant weather system sitting off the east coast”, which may bring yet more rainfall.
It’s a far, far cry from the live music (and let’s be honest, festival fashion moments) punters were hoping for.
Videos on TikTok and Instagram show the bleak reality of the conditions on site, while reports have emerged of stalls selling gum boots for $80 a pop.
“If you’re coming to Splendour bring gumboots omfg,” TikTok user @scrappymike said on Thursday. On Friday he followed it up with another video: “Update: it’s 10x worse.”
Festival organisers said they’re working with Moshtix for ticket holders “affected directly” by the cancellation to organise refunds, but said it would provide more details in the coming days.
In the meantime, they remain hopeful the rest of the festival — which is headlined by The Strokes on Saturday and Tyler, The Creator on Sunday — would go ahead.
“We ask for patience while we work through the refund process,” they said. “Please be assured that our event team is working very hard to provide the best experience possible under the curent circumstances. We look forward to Saturday and Sunday programming moving ahead as planned.”