Some of the best dressed at Falls Festival. Picture: PATRICK GEE
Some of the best dressed at Falls Festival. Picture: PATRICK GEE

Festival's 'devastating' decision will hurt jobs, economy

FALLS Festival Byron Bay has been cancelled for 2020.

Organisers confirmed the news today, saying that "given the current status of things and border restrictions in place, it won't be possible to hold Falls Festival in our regular New Year's time frame."

"As we work with government stakeholders and key agencies to get Falls Festival back in the calendar, as always your safety is our priority," they said.

"Consider this a raincheck and please know we will be back with more information as it comes to hand."

The festival has a total allocation of 25,000 tickets, as it was for the last two years.


Tash Sultana plays Falls Festival 2019 in Byron Bay.
Tash Sultana plays Falls Festival 2019 in Byron Bay.


Back in May, producers had announced the festival would go ahead but only with Australian artists.

Destination North Coast Chair Cameron Arnold said this was another hit for the tourism industry in the area.

"Whilst it is not a surprise to hear this news, it is just another big hit to the visitor economy for the North Coast and the many businesses that make a living out of it," he said.

"We completely understand the reasoning for this decision and think it is the right one with so much uncertainty still around the ongoing impacts of COVID-19.

"The early announcement will ensure that those planning on attending this event can now make alternate arrangements and there will not be any angst against the festival or the destination, there will be plenty of disappointment however.

"There will also be extended impacts across the north coast from an employment and visitation perspective of which recovery gets harder and harder."

The Northern Rivers leg of the festival is held annually at North Byron Parklands in Yelgun.

Falls Festival 20/21 was meant to be the 28th version of the event.


Neon colours at Falls Festival Byron Bay 2019.
Neon colours at Falls Festival Byron Bay 2019.


Byron mayor Simon Richardson said there were "significant impacts" of losing Falls this year.

"From a purely social point of view it's a huge blow to those who love (the festival)," Cr Richardson said.

"It has a great impact on our already struggling creative professionals.

"It obviously provides employment for many hundreds and it's devastating for them."

He was hopeful the beds at accommodation houses and tables at restaurants that would have been filled by festival attendees would be filled by others.

Critical to that could be whether or not Queensland's border restrictions ease before the festive season.

"I can't see it happening before the Queensland state election," Cr Richardson said.

"Presuming Queensland numbers (of COVID-19 cases) don't grow it would be staggering to believe we'll be in December and the border restrictions are still in place."