Eight reasons why Strawberry Fields has mastered the music festival model

Get the latest from Beat


Eight reasons why Strawberry Fields has mastered the music festival model

Strawberry Fields music festival
Photo: Duncographic
Words by Tim Thorpe

Strawberry Fields is far from your typical festival experience.

An annual celebration of art, sound and creative expression across three days in the wildlands of Tocumwal, Strawberry Fields has been ranked among the world’s greatest music festivals.

Sitting pretty by the Murray River with gorgeous stages overlooking the water, it’s clearly one of the greatest festival locations in the world. But there’s a lot more to Strawberry than meets the eye, so with this year’s event fast approaching, we’ve compiled a list of reasons why Strawberry Fields has the music festival game on lock.

Wash against waste

The banning of single-use plastics is a common incentive being adopted by festivals to reduce waste. Strawberry Fields have taken this initiative a step further by becoming the first Australian festival to introduce washable crockery across its event. Punters will be charged a $4 deposit on top of their food or drink purchase. Once finished, remaining food scraps can be scraped into compost bins around the market area before crockery is dropped off to designated return points where punters will receive their $4 refund.

Affordable tickets

Music festival tickets can be an expensive luxury, particularly for students or those within a low-income bracket. Strawberry Fields aims to be accessible to everyone and provides heavily discounted tickets to punters who are able to prove they are unable to afford a standard entry ticket. The festival also offers a volunteer program which simply requires patrons work 12 hours across the festival in exchange for a ticket.

Support the locals

Strawberry Fields brings roughly four times the total population of Tocumwal to the area over the space of four days. In a bid to give back to the locals, the festival organisers have implemented several initiatives to involve the local community. Strawberry’s community grant program ensures a portion of every ticket sold goes towards funding programs in the community. In the past, the festival has helped the local kindergarten start a worm farm, and sponsored the local bowls club.

Did you see the lineup?!

Year after year, Strawberry Fields delivers stacked lineups with the biggest names from across the country and beyond. The festival boasts a diverse and genre-bending bill incorporating techno, house, hip hop, funk and soul. 

Sustainability school

Building on efforts to minimise their environmental impact, Strawberry Fields also offers a four-day course on urban permaculture design and theory. The course takes place in the lead-up to the festival and promotes practical strategies to accelerate the transition towards a sustainable future. It’s taught by Andre Soares and Lucy Legan, each bringing decades of experience and knowledge gleaned through working around the world across a range of environmental projects.

Workshops and markets

Another essential component of the Strawberry Fields program is the variety of exceptional workshops available to punters. The festival offers scheduled dance and yoga classes, as well as lifestyle talks and circus play, giving attendees the opportunity to step out of their comfort zone and learn new skills. Strawberry also brings over 100 hours of active trading, with vendors given the opportunity to apply for a stall in the festival’s marketplace.

The wheels on the bus…

With a subsidised bus charter program taking punters from Melbourne and Sydney to the festival grounds, Strawberry Fields offers the largest shuttle service in Australia – over 2000 people travel by bus to the event. The festival provides multiple departure locations and times, promoting a cheaper, hassle-free alternative to driving. Not to mention, taking the bus produces one-tenth of the carbon emissions emitted by car.

An art gallery for all

Strawberry’s annual festivities includes an art space dedicated to Australia’s most talented up-and-coming visual artists. Exhibitors are invited to share impromptu artist talks, performances and workshops, with the ability to showcase their work and make it available for sale. Curated by the established Front Left Gallery, Strawberry Fields is always looking for new contributors and supports the works of local creatives, no matter the medium.

Head to strawberry-fields.com.au.