Legal battle over huge music festival

Falls Festival has been cancelled. Picture Instagram.JPG
Falls Festival has been cancelled ahead of its annual New Year’s Eve event. Picture: Instagram

A second music festival is in trouble after it was announced that one of Australia’s most popular events will be cancelled this year.

Secret Sounds, the team behind Falls Festival, disappointed music fans when it announced on Instagram on Wednesday that the annual event would not go ahead in either of its three locations – Melbourne, Byron Bay and Fremantle – this December.

It’s the third time in the past four years the event has been cancelled. The previous cancellations in 2020 and 2021 were due to the Covid pandemic.

Now the company behind a festival that promised to bring some of the world’s biggest artists Down Under faces being wound up in court.

Falls Festival has been cancelled. Picture Instagram 2.JPG
Falls Festival has been cancelled. Picture: Instagram
Falls Festival has been cancelled. Picture Instagram.JPG
It is the third time in four years that Falls Festival has not gone ahead. Picture: Instagram

Meanwhile, the Lunar Electric festival “rescheduled” its Gold Coast event just two weeks before showtime in February after it failed to lock down a venue and some of its promised performers.

The festival promoted its line-up, which included Grammy award winner Doja Cat as well as hip hop stars like 6ix9ine, NLE Choppa, Swae Lee and duo Rae Sremmurd, for months before the event was pulled.

A contractor for the festival, TFH Hire, has now reportedly applied for Intensive Events, the company, running it to be wound up over an unpaid debt.

The exact details of the cancellation of the Falls festival are still unclear.

“After an impressive 28 years ringing in the New Year with some of the world’s biggest acts, the Falls team are today switching on their OOOs and taking this New Years’ season off to rest, recover and recalibrate,” the post said.

“We send huge love and appreciation to all our patrons for their ongoing support and for the great vibes they brought to the 2022/23 events.

“You really are the heart and soul of Falls Festival, and we look forward to updating you with our plans when the time is right.”

Falls Festival has been cancelled. Picture Instagram 2.JPG
Festival organisers are hoping to ‘rest, recover and recalibrate’. Picture: Instagram

It comes two months out from an incredible line-up, including Lizzo, Flume and Mumford & Sons, due to take the stage at its twin festival Splendour in the Grass.

Splendour in The Mud fallout

Secret Sounds were the target of public fury last July after torrential rain flooded the grounds of North Byron Parklands for Splendour in the Grass, leaving campers stranded in the mud or stuck in a car queue for up to 10 hours.

Falls Festival has been cancelled. Picture Instagram 2.JPG
Organisers Secret Sounds came under scrutiny last year after twin festival Splendour in the Grass faced a number of problems. Picture: Instagram
Falls Festival has been cancelled. Picture Instagram 3.JPG
Falls Festival went ahead in December 2022. Picture: Instagram

The organisers were slammed for a lack of communication, with hundreds of attendees waiing into the early hours of the morning for answers.

The first day of the festival was cancelled and thousands were forced to find last-minute accommodation as flooded campgrounds were abandoned.

Partial refunds were offered to some attendees for the cancelled first day, unused camping tickets, and to cover the cost of bus tickets.

Secret Sounds offered attendees of the 2022 festival a discounted price to purchase tickets to this year’s event, which has yet to sell out.

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The site of the original Falls Festival in Lorne was put up for sale in March. Picture: Instagram

Despite the fallout from the July event, it appears Falls Festival went on without a hitch in Byron Bay, Fremantle and Melbourne.

It was the first year the three-day event was hosted at Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne's CBD after decades at the festival’s original home in Lorne.

The 58-hectare site was put up for sale in March.

Industry under pressure

The cancellation of Falls Festival this year comes after a handful of smaller festivals were canned.

Deniliquin-based Play on the Plains was cancelled a month out from the event in March due to “low-ticket sales”.

Nine festivals were wiped out in NSW alone last year after flooding saturated venues and disrupted supply chains and transport routes.

Wollongong festival Yours and Owls was cancelled in April, followed by Wine Machine in the Hunter Valley.

Falls Festival has been cancelled. Picture Instagram 2.JPG
Falls Festival joins a series of Aussie festivals forced to cancel events in recent years. Picture: Instagram

Then again in October, Strawberry Fields, which usually takes place on the border of NSW and Victoria, was cancelled after flooding on the Murray River.

Organisers of Newcastle festival This That cited rising insurance premiums along with extreme weather patterns when they cancelled in the same month.

The beloved Newtown Festival in Sydney has also been canned.

The Newtown Neighbourhood Centre, which organises the event, cited unmanageable costs in keeping the festival free.