Even before you consider all of the music, art, performances, workshops and food, just on the basic levels of design, scale and location, Strawberry Fields was just nuts. Like any festival worth its weight, it has a distinctive vibe, a combination of the expansive, beautiful setting on Yorta Yorta bushland on the banks of the Murray River, and the way that its layout has been designed to complement those natural surroundings.
Giant art installations were erected throughout the grounds, some interactive, some, such as the giant bird made of branches or the pirate ship, intended to be sat within, while others, such as the triangle-shaped mirror room or the bus full of lasers, were simply some trippy shit to look at. Not only did each of these artworks, as well as the design of the stages themselves, add to the feeling of being in a carefully constructed private universe, but also provided revellers with some perfect Instagram opportunities. It was like an adventure playground for young adults.
With five stages dedicated to music there was a lot to see, but interestingly the festival seemed to be built to its own pace, with each stage delivering diverse styles and most of the DJ sets lasting at least two hours. Instead of rushing between areas in fear of missing anything, this meant you could spend a decent amount of time watching each artist before moving on.
The Wildlands stage had the biggest names and was basically going off the entire time. From Moodymann to Denis Sulta to Todd Terje, there was a palpable sense of good times and fun-loving electronica that pervaded the entire festival.
The Beach stage overlooked the banks of the Murray River, which allowed for some refreshing bathing while raving (and vice versa) during the sunny afternoon on Saturday. Thanks to its small size and beautiful location, The Beach stage was constantly packed, with Booka Shade highlighting proceedings with an epic live set to finish us all off.
With a record number of people in attendance, Strawberry was remarkably well run. The sustainability measures enacted were commendable and should be used as a guide to other festivals, including a rewashable plate system instead of single-use goods, plenty of free drinking water and a car entry fee, which was used to offset the festival’s carbon footprint.
All in all, Strawberry is a model from which all other festivals can learn a thing or two.