Fans had been excited for the return of Splendor in the Grass, a three-day festival featuring international artists like Liam Gallagher, Gorillaz, Tyler The Creator and The Strokes, after a two-year hiatus imposed by the pandemic.
But uninterrupted rainy weather along the New South Wales coast throughout the week created dangerous conditions at the festival site near Byron Bay, the upscale coastal town popular with Hollywood celebrities.
As they canceled Friday’s programme, organizers said “weather and staff shortages were worse than expected”.
“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 for today only.”
About 50,000 people were expected to attend this year’s festival, most of whom paid between A$189 ($130) for a one-day pass and A$399 ($275) for three full days.
Photos and videos posted on social media showed muddy water and dozens of poncho-clad festival-goers braving heavy rain. Many lamented the poor organization of the event, sharing their “nightmarish experiences” on social media coping with winding traffic jams and bogged down vehicles as people tried to enter and leave the festival site.
One attendee, who said he was stuck in his car for 8.5 hours, compared the event to Australia’s ‘Fyre Festival’ – an event billed as a five-star experience in the Bahamas in 2017 that offered little more than tents and bad sandwiches.
“No staff, no information, I think it’s the Australian Fyre festival. Hellish scenery in Splendor,” he said.
Others have called for the festival to be canceled in the interest of public safety. “I honestly believe that if you put the safety of staff and attendees first, you should cancel,” one Facebook user said.
But organizers have promised the show could go on Saturday and Sunday. “Rest assured that our events team is working very hard to provide the best possible experience under the current circumstances,” they said in a statement.
“We look forward to the Saturday and Sunday lineup proceeding as planned.”
While much of the world sweltered during summer heat waves, Australia experienced a particularly wet winter, punctuated by flooding along the east coast.
According to experts, the climate crisis has increased the frequency and intensity of the La Nina weather system, generating above-average rainfall.