The unmatched talent adorning festival lineups remains, but the fusion of fine art, cultural endeavours, technologically warping displays and avant-garde food and beverage options has significantly diversified the idea of what a music festival is. Melbourne’s newest two-day festival Lost Lands corresponds with this philosophy, but its family endorsing concept is what sets it apart.
Set in the parklands of the historic Werribee Mansion, the idea of Lost Lands was gestated by founder Simon Daly in light of a gratifying annual vacation. “We’ve been doing this once a year getaway with a whole bunch of families, with about 100 kids and adults combined, down to a little valley near Johanna beach,” Daly says. “We’ve been in this valley where there’s no phone reception and we’ve had these incredible interactive times between parents and kids. By the end of it we’d count all the things we’d done over the weekend and we counted 18 different activities.
“I thought, there’s something really special about this and the one ingredient that I hadn’t added to these weekends was music, arts, comedy and theatre,” he says. “Then I thought, ‘Imagine if you could add that to the mix and share that with a whole heap more families.’ ”
In its inaugural year, Lost Lands is set to host some of the best local and international blues, folk and funk artists, headlined by The Waifs, Mariachi El Bronx and Missy Higgins. On top of that, a slew of fascinating circus, theatre, comedy and interactive acts will take place to stimulate the youth contingent and evoke every adult’s inner kid. Comedy circus group Children Are Stinky lead an arts program also featuring an interactive performance from dance guru Bec Reid, while magician Liam Power is set to befuddle anyone and everyone.
Accessibility is Daly’s festival proviso, something this lineup clearly resonates with. “The key to a festival is to have a feel for the event and a brand of what you want the event to be and stay true to that. There’s a feel of music that’s really accessible to youngies and oldies, that’s really fun and promotes positive programming,” Daly says. “To have festival acts that have really resonated with music lovers that might have locked themselves away in parenthood but still love live music.”
Daly is the pundit behind Falls Festival but curating a family specific festival like Lost Lands is a completely different kettle of fish. An amateur in an expert’s body, Daly is the first person to admit that he’s come face to face with a new breed of animal. “(It’s) a completely different ballgame. In the sense of running Falls for 20 years, the knowledge of what you’ve got to do to deliver a festival is helpful but running a festival that’s set for a certain demographic of 18-25 or so, is quite restrictive,” says Daly. “Being able to programme for a two-year-old to a 62-year-old is really refreshing because there’s no boundaries on what you can offer.
“Being able to start from scratch allows you to deliver a festival that you’ve probably always wanted to,” Daly says. “It gives you an opportunity to have a completely blank canvas and present the type of festival that you would love to go to as a parent, as a friend of parents and as a kid.”
It’s difficult to foresee the future of an unhatched egg, so putting a measure on untapped experiences may be challenging. Nonetheless, Daly is daring enough to believe that festivalgoers should prepare for an experience like no other. “The idea of watching Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory at the sleeping bag cinema and then settling into your tent and hearing the lions roar from your campsite would be a pretty exhilarating experience.
“With so many little surprises that we’ve got instore, I think people are going to experience a really easy going, nicely paced festival with a really intimate experience.”
By Tom Parker