Byron Bay Bluesfest announced in a statement today that Bluesfest will return to its usual spot, over the Easter long weekend in 2022.
After the 2020 event was cancelled, the festival was given the green light for 2021 thanks to no community transmission or health restrictions in the local Byron Bay region. In a cruel twist of fate, this changed practically overnight when a case cropped up in the local area and forced the festival to cancel just 24 hours before gates were due to open.
After receiving some welcomed support from the federal government’s RISE fund due to the back-to-back cancellations, the festival rescheduled to October 2021, promoting an “All-Australian” line-up. But with New South Wales struggling to contain the ongoing fight against the fast-spreading delta variant, organisers have now made the difficult, but anticipated, decision to give up on hopes for a 2021 event.
“It is obvious that we cannot present Bluesfest in a safe manner in October, so we have re-scheduled back to our usual timing with dates over the Easter Long Weekend next year; a time we expect things to be returning to normal,” says Bluesfest Festival Director, Peter Noble OAM.
“We are a resilient bunch. We have worked so hard since May 2019 to make Bluesfest happen and, guess what, we are not giving up. We are immensely proud of who we are: we are proud of the Bluesfest name and what that represents, immensely proud, and we are already looking forward to Easter. I thought this decision would be hard to make, but it was the reverse. The safety and protection of our loyal Bluesfesters, our festival staff, our performers, our volunteers, stallholders and suppliers is paramount, and I will not put anyone at risk right now. So the decision to re-schedule was a ‘no-brainer’.”
With the return of Bluesfest rescheduled to Friday 15 April to Monday 18 April 2022, Noble says the team can now focus on the future, teasing that they are “working on something special” for Thursday 14 April.
“I am confident that, by the end of this year, Australia will have achieved at least a 70-80% vaccination rate and will have achieved at least ‘Stage Three’ in the plan to open up the whole country.” he says.
“Lockdowns will be consigned to history. Perhaps we may even see international artists returning.”
A much-loved staple on the Australian festival calendar, the 2021 cancellation reportedly cost the Australian economy $181.2 million.
Promising the greatest line-up of Australian and New Zealand talent ever seen in Australia when they return, Noble is already excited for 2022.
“After all – “, he says. “It’s only 35 weeks to Easter – LET’S GO TEAM!!”
Photo: Evan Malcolm