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Splendour in the Grass hit by alcohol rule change

Controversy has erupted weeks before the Australian event's return, with all under-18s now required to be accompanied by an adult

By James Hanley on 14 Jul 2022

Splendour in the Grass 2019

Splendour in the Grass

A late change to Splendour in the Grass‘ alcohol licence threatens to cast a cloud over the festival’s first edition since 2019.

The 50,000-cap Australian event returns to North Byron Parklands from 22-24 July with headliners Gorillaz, The Strokes and Tyler, the Creator.

But just weeks before the event, controversy has erupted after ticket-holders received an email from ticketing company Moshtix, informing them that all festival-goers under the age of 18 now have to “be accompanied by a responsible adult at all times whilst at the event and campgrounds”.

“This is not Splendour’s decision,” stresses the festival in a social media post. “These new rules have been imposed on us by NSW Police. We were only informed of this [the night before] and we are very unhappy about these major changes being forced on the festival at such a late stage.”

Those who fail to comply with the ruling risk “considerable fines” of between AUD$2,000-$5,500. Previously, only those under the age of 16 were required to be accompanied by an adult.

“We’ve never had any issues with our underage audience, intoxication or any kind of breach”

“We understand the impact it will have on many of our patrons,” adds the statement. “We also don’t want you to walk away with a fine. So we want you all to be aware that police will be present at the event, roaming through out the crowd checking that underage minors are with a responsible adult.

“The only place you can purchase tickets for accompanying responsible adults is via the Splendour resale facility, where all monies go to the previous ticket holder.”

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the rule change has led to hundreds of tickets being off-loaded by under-18s for the festival’s landmark 20th edition.

Festival co-promoter Jessica Ducrou describes the changes as “heavy-handed, and unnecessary based on historic performance”.

“We’ve been all ages since we started and we’ve never had any issues with our underage audience, intoxication or any kind of breach,” she tells the newspaper.

“We have to follow the direction… But it’s really important the event is all ages. Our under-18 audience is very important to us, we cater for them.”

The entire festival area… is akin to one giant open air-pub. The risks for minors mingling unsupervised in this environment are obvious”

The Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority (ILGA) has spoken out in defence of the move, which it says is supported by NSW Police.

“The entire festival area is licensed; it is akin to one giant open-air pub,” it says. “The risks for minors mingling unsupervised in this environment are obvious.

“Under 18s are still allowed to go, but they need to be supervised by someone responsible – just as they would in a pub or other entertainment venue that sells alcohol.”

ILGA cites the Music Festivals Act 2019, which was brought in to make festivals safer following the drug-related deaths of seven young festival-goers between 2017 and 2019. Splendour’s 2020 and 2021 editions were cancelled due to the pandemic.

“The community demanded the NSW government act to address the crisis, and the laws were introduced after extensive consultation with groups including the festivals industry, NSW Police and NSW Health,” says the authority. “This year’s Splendour in the Grass will be the first since the Act began and now requires a plan on how health and safety risks will be managed.

“The condition to require minors to be accompanied by a responsible adult is not a last-minute change – it is an obligation under the law and was agreed to at a meeting with the festival organisers, NSW Police, Liquor & Gaming NSW and ILGA on 16 June.”


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