If your teenager wants to go to the Big Day Out, Splendour in the Grass, Groovin’ the Moo or one of Australia’s other major outdoor music festivals, don’t let them leave home before reading our guide to music festivals for under 18s. Actually, don’t let them buy tickets! Not all outdoor music festivals are open to under 18s, so there are some you can immediately cross off your teen’s wish list. Find these at the end of the article.
However, some of Australia’s longest running and most popular festivals do allow under 18s, with varying rules around their attendance. We’ve covered those off below. At the end of this article is a list of smaller state-based music festivals for under 18s that teenagers may attend.
RELATED: Should I be worried if my teen is going to a music festival? by Paul Dillon, drug and alcohol educator
Big Day Out
Where: Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Gold Coast
When: January/February 2013
Age permitted: 15+
The Big Day Out is one of the few outdoor festivals that allows minors to attend without being accompanied by a parent or guardian. Their MA15 rating is a guide for parents, and although minors under the age of 15 will be admitted, it is recommended that they be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
There is a strong police presence and sniffer dogs at BDO venues. If caught with illicit drugs, patrons will be treated the same way as anywhere else, potentially facing criminal charges.
Some conditions of entry:
- All bags, belongings, containers and other possessions must be available for search upon entry to the event.
- Patrons are allowed to bring in an unopened plastic bottle of water, but no glass.
- All patrons will be subject to a ‘pat-down’ by security, and a metal detector search upon entry.
- Patrons will be evicted from the event if they are affected by alcohol or drugs.
- Patrons will be evicted from the event if they participate in dangerous activities such as:
- aggressive dancing
- crowd surfing
- The Big Day Out has put into action ‘restricted capacities’ at some stages and tented areas, meaning that once the maximum capacity for that area has been reached, there will be no more admissions to the arena.
Organisers of the Big Day Out have implemented a system to help prevent minors purchasing alcohol at the event:
- 18+ patrons are supplied with a different coloured wristband to those under 18 – if you look under 18, you will be asked for ID, regardless of what wristband you are wearing.
- Wristbands are difficult to remove without scissors (which are prohibited and will be confiscated on entry). Anyone found not wearing a wristband will be ejected.
- Photo ID will be required when purchasing alcohol, even if the patron is wearing the 18+ wristband.
- Anyone found supplying alcohol to minors will be evicted from the venue and may face criminal charges.
- No pass outs – once you’re in, you’re in; once you’re out, you’re out!
We asked the organisers about what happens to minors if they get removed from the premises – ie are their parents called or do they just get sent on their way? This is what they said:
“The MA15 rating on Big Day Out is, and always was, a guide for parents who were having to make a decision as to whether or not they would allow their children to attend the festival. This is part of our harm minimisation strategy. We have a duty of care to all our patrons and this includes anyone of less than 15 years inside the event.
“In cases of underage patrons being in the licensed areas of the event, then the offending patron will be referred to the police as they would in any licensed premises.
“Big Day Out will act according to the law and in cases of trespass (fence jumping), again the offending patron will be referred to the police.
“All patrons are advised to carry ID with them when attending Big Day Out.”
[Big Day Out information updated 28/12/12; source: Big Day Out organisers.]
Groovin’ the Moo
Where: Maitland (NSW), Townsville (Qld), Bunbury (WA), Canberra (ACT), Bendigo (Vic)
When: April/May 2013
Age: 16+ (recommended)
Groovin’ the Moo began with one show in rural Maitland, NSW in 2005, and has since expanded to five shows around Australia. The premise has stayed the same – organisers tour some of the best international and local bands to regional locations, attracting up to 15,000 festival-goers for each show.
Groovin’ the Moo is a licensed all ages (16 + recommended) event. Groovin’ the Moo recommends parents should consider whether the event is appropriate for their child and recommends that any children under 16 years of age who attend the event are accompanied by their parent or guardian.
Persons aged 16 and 17 years of age must have photo ID to attend. Patrons without government approved photo ID will not get in. Persons who are 18 years of age or older and wish to purchase alcohol MUST have valid photo ID (passport, Australian driver’s license, proof of age card). In Bunbury, WA, international driver’s licenses will not be accepted and only a WA proof-of-age card will be accepted. No pass outs will be issued at any of the five Groovin’ the Moo events. For full terms and conditions, visit www.gtm.net.au
[Groovin’ the Moo information updated 22/1/13; source: Groovin’ the Moo organisers.]
The Falls Music and Arts Festival
Where: Marion Bay, Tasmania
When: 29 Dec 2012–1 Jan 2013
Age: All ages (with conditions)
The annual Falls Music and Arts Festival, now in its 19th year, is held in two locations: Marion Bay, Tasmania, and Lorne, Victoria. The Victorian event is open to adults over 18 and children under 12 only. Presumably this is to promote a family-friendly event without the difficulty of managing potential underage drinking. However, The Falls in Tasmania is all ages, with conditions.
Conditions of entry:
- Children under 18 must have a valid ticket and be accompanied by a ticket holding parent, adult legal guardian or adult eligible carer at all times. (Children under 12 are free.)
- People other than a parent or legal guardian can be an eligible carer if the child (U18 ticketholder) is in the person’s care with the consent of the parent or legal guardian. You may be required to provide verification of consent.
- A wristband is issued upon entry on the first day, and must be left on until the end of the festival.
Splendour in the Grass
Where: Belongil Fields, Byron Bay
When: Last weekend in July, over three days
Age: All ages (with conditions)
Splendour In the Grass has returned to Byron Bay after a couple of years at Woodford in Queensland. The annual music, arts and culture event attracts tens of thousands of music lovers each year for its camping festival experience and wide variety of art and music.
Police presence is significant at Splendour, with sniffer dogs doing regular patrols around the festival and the surrounding campsites.
Conditions of entry:
- All minors aged 15 and under must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian at the entry gates (or they may be refused entry) and at all times while at the festival or campgrounds.
- Children aged 11 and under are admitted free and must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian at the entry gates and at all times while at the festival or campgrounds. Children aged 12 or older must buy a ticket.
- A parent or guardian may accompany a maximum of three patrons aged 15 or under.
- It is the responsibility of the parent/guardian to ensure that all youth patrons accompanying them comply with instructions issued by festival staff and/or contained in all permanent and temporary signage throughout the festival site.
- 16 and 17 year olds DO NOT need to be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian.
- Patrons under the age of 18 must not engage in any illegal or disruptive activities while on site. This includes underage drinking, use of illicit substances or any generally disruptive behaviour.
- Any breach of the these conditions may result in the eviction of the parent/guardian and all accompanying minors from the festival site.
The Splendour in the Grass website offers more information about safety and security. Check out their Youth Policy, if you are considering allowing your teenager to attend.
Where: Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane
When: February/March 2012
Age: All ages
Soundwave is an annual music festival which began in Perth in 2004 but is now held in most capital cities. It features metal, rock and punk bands.
Conditions of entry:
- No person will be able to purchase or consume alcohol unless they have valid photo identification.
- Patrons aged 15 to 18 should be accompanied by a responsible person over the age of 18.
- Patrons under 15 years MUST be accompanied by a parent or guardian and supervised at all times.
Organisers warn that minors may be subjected to lyrics, language or gestures that they or their parents may find offensive. They advise those teenagers to not attend.
Woodford Folk Festival
Where: Woodford, Queensland.
When: 27 December 2012–1 January 2013
Age: All ages
The Woodford Folk Festival is held on a 500 acre property called Woodfordia near Woodford, Queensland. The festival comprises music, talks, music and dance workshops, art installations, bars, food, craft and experience stalls.
In recent years, festival operators have noticed a ‘significant rise in incidents involving unsupervised youths’. They have introduced a number of changes to promote better security and safety.
Youth Ticketing Policy
- Youth tickets (13–17 years old) may only be purchased in conjunction with a Guardian Ticket.
- A Guardian Ticket holder must be aged 25 years or older and must be contactable by mobile phone at the festival.
- A maximum of 3 youth tickets may be purchased with each Guardian Ticket, eg a single guardian may be responsible for no more than three children under the age of 18.
- As the purchaser of a Guardian Ticket you must:
- provide your relevant festival contact details with the ticket purchase
- agree to the terms and conditions of entry
- advise any associated ticket holders of the consequences of any breaches of these terms and conditions prior to the event.
Conditions of entry:
- All Guardian Ticket holders are required to produce valid proof-of-age identification at the festival ticket gate.
- All guardian and youth ticket holders within a group must arrive at the festival ticket gate together. No youth ticket holder will be permitted entry without their guardian being present.
- No more than 3 youth ticket holders per Guardian Ticket holder will be granted entry to the festival site.
- Any breach of the above Terms of Arrival will result in refusal of entry with no exceptions.
- Absolutely no ticket refunds will be given.
For more information on youth attendance and Terms of Entry for Woodford Folk Festival, visit: www.woodfordfolkfestival.com/tickets/youth/
Other music festivals for under 18s
Peats Ridge Festival, Peats Ridge, Dec/Jan: www.peatsridgefestival.com.au
Wollombi Music Festival, Wollombi, September: www.wollombimusicfestival.com.au
Come Together, Luna Park Sydney, June: www.cometogether.com.au
Byron Bay Blues Fest, Byron Bay, Easter: www.bluesfest.com.au
Fat as Butter, Newcastle, September: www.fatasbutter.com.au
Corinbank, Brindabella Mountains, Nov/Dec: www.corinbank.com
Riverboats Music Festival, Echuca-Moama, February: http://riverboatsmusic.com.au
Sounds Loud Festival, Moonee Ponds, April: www.facebook.com/soundsloudfestival
Push Over, Melbourne, March: http://www.thepush.com.au
Meredith Music Festival, Meredith, December: http://2012.mmf.com.au
Queenscliff Music Festival, Queenscliff, November: www.qmf.net.au
Breath of Life Music Festival, Launceston, March: http://breathoflifefestival.com
Norfolk Lanes Youth Festival, Fremantle, December: www.facebook.com/NorfolkLYF
Southbound, Busselton, January: www.southboundfestival.com.au
HyperFest, Perth, October: www.hyperfest.com.au
Strictly over 18s only
- Parklife – national
- Laneway Festival – national
- Future Music – national
- Summadayze/Summafieldayze – national
- Stereosonic – national
- Good Vibrations – national
- Playground Weekender – Wisemans Ferry, NSW
- Field Day – Sydney, NSW
- Homebake – Sydney, NSW
- Harbourlife – Sydney, NSW
- Pyramid Rock – Phillip Island, Victoria
- Harvest Festival – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane