Threat of extreme weather and floods forces many festivals to cancel

Several popular festivals such as Strawberry Fields have been forced to cancel their annual events this year after extreme weather has taken over as the new threat to the music scene.

In a recent statement, the Strawberry Fields directors said they were “absolutely devastated” to cancel the October event on the Murray River at Tocumwal on the Victoria-NSW border.

“Oh the joys of the past three years. First there were bushfires, then a pandemic, and now La Nina seems to be that unwelcome guest left at the house party that we just can’t kick off the couch,” they said.

They noted the Murray River had experienced unprecedented flooding levels in the lead up to the event.

“After being in Tocumwal for a decade, we have never seen these heights persist,” they said.

“Critical access and entertainment areas are currently metres underwater, and expert advice suggests the situation could only worsen from here.

“At this stage it is not possible to commence event construction or be confident at all that the festival can safely take place.

“After consultation with our local stakeholders and emergency services we have been left with no alternative but to cancel.”

Strawberry Fields is not alone in their struggle against climate change.

Splendour in the Grass, held at the North Byron Parklands in northern NSW, turned into a muddy nightmare for many people.

After a Covid-19 break, the event had its capacity boosted this year from 35,000 to 50,000.

Hordes of festival-goers lined up for more than 12 hours only to be turned away from flooded campgrounds before the event could even start, forcing some to sleep in their cars.

Then the first day of performances was cancelled and there were issues with long waits for buses, with patrons venting their frustration on social media.

As if dealing with labour and supply shortages from Covid-19 was not enough, several music festivals have been cancelled or postponed due to bad weather this year.

The Australian Actuaries Climate Index, which measures extreme weather conditions, recorded its highest measurement this autumn since records began in 1981.

Weather problems also have a ripple effect on insurance, with a KPMG review in April highlighting the glaring issue.

“Continued growth in natural hazard events is likely and as we have seen just recently, the east coast flood events in March 2022 will be a significant cost to the insurance industry with early estimates of $2.32bn being reported by the Insurance Council of Australia,” the report read.

“The industry is increasingly concerned that the frequency and severity of natural hazard events will significantly push premiums up and make some areas uninsurable.”

Meanwhile, the federal government’s Live Performance Support Fund, which is aimed at providing coverage between November and January for events impacted by Covid-19 lockdowns, may have come too late.

The Greens are urging the federal government to extend it for events cancelled due to extreme weather.


  • Sunset Sounds — Wagga Wagga — April;
  • Jungle Love — Somerset — April;
  • Yours and Owls — Wollongong — April;
  • Wine Machine — Hunter Valley — April;
  • Strawberry Fields — Tocumwal — October;
  • Flow Festival — Wagga Wagga — October;
  • Festival of the Sun — Port Macquarie — November; and
  • This That Festival — Sandstone Point/Newcastle — October and November.
Read related topics:Weather

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