Peats Ridge Festival

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Peats Ridge Festival was an Australian sustainable arts and music festival, held in Glenworth Valley, Peats Ridge, 1 hour north of Sydney and 90 minute drive from Newcastle, New South Wales. Established in 2004, one year after the passing of the founder of the Glenworth Valley Horse Riding facility, the Festival had been recognised as one of the world’s leading sustainability events.[1] The festival ran for three days around New Year's Eve, from 29 December to 1 January. The event organisers relied heavily on volunteer support, and this service was rewarded with a free ticket to the person. This type of employment strategy highlighted one of many of the sustainable options chosen by organisers to set up, run and close the event.

Following poor ticket sales at the 2012 festival, the company running it has now gone into liquidation and there will be no 2013 festival. Many creditors, including the John Butler Trio, were owed a total of $1.25 million. In addition to the music artists which form the line up, it featured an arts program packed with visual and installation arts, performance, comedy, contemporary dance and theatre. Peats Ridge had been recognised for discovering and presenting up-and-coming bands and artists, supported by an application process for emerging acts. In 2010 Angus and Julia Stone, previous up and coming artists, headlined on the first night of the event, showing the goodwill that the festival harvests between organisers and performers alike.[2]

The festival was a camping event and had been open to all ages, with free entrance for children under 6 and a full program of events and activities for families and children, in addition to family camping areas.

Of course, organizers hope to resurrect the Peats Ridge Festival in the not-too-distant future.

Awards and accreditations[edit]

The Peats Ridge Festival has been recognized on both a national and international level for its focus and achievement in sustainability. The festival has been awarded:

  • Outstanding Greener Festival for The Greener Festival Awards in 2007, 2009, 2010 and most recently 2011 [3][4]
  • The Environmental Sustainability Award for the 2008 NSW State Government Green Globe Awards [5]
  • The Small Business Award for the 2009 NSW State Government Green Globe Awards [6]
  • Best Achievement in Sustainability for the 2009 & 2010 Australian Event Awards [7]
  • Most Green Friendly award the 2009 FasterLouder Festival Awards [8]

The Peats Ridge Festival is officially acknowledged by the UN for their work in Environmental Education and in 2010 is the founding partner of the UN Music and Environmental Initiative.[9]

Glenworth Valley[edit]

Glenworth Valley is 1 hour north of Sydney and 15 minutes from Gosford, located in the hinterland region of the NSW Central Coast. A 90-minute drive along the freeway from Newcastle, the valley features 3,000 acres (12 km2) of wilderness and is situated around the winding Popran Creek, which leads to the Hawkesbury River.[10] The festival site is located in flat green meadows and is surrounded by a 200m high-wooded escarpment. There are three designated swimming holes, two in the Festival precinct and one alongside the non-vehicle camping area, all of which have lifeguards on duty each day. In addition to the arts, music, workshops and performance programs, The Glenworth Valley Adventure Centre offer a range of activities aimed at enjoying the natural surroundings of the valley.


Peats Ridge Festival is one of the first festivals in the world to promote, and continue to advocate sustainability. It is also the first major Australian event to run solely on renewable energy. Peats Ridge engages its suppliers to minimise waste from the festival. For example, stallholders are required to sort their waste into three different types; Recycling, General and Compost. Scraps are composted, recycling sorted and waste disposed of in a sustainable manner in accordance with the Festivals guidelines. Just about everything bought or sold at the Festival is either recyclable or compostable. Volunteer staff collect the rubbish and sort through it before it leaves the grounds. Though some flooding occurs on the grounds, without rain or times of low rainfall, the festival is unaffected by flooding issues. In previous years of heavy rain, i.e. 2007 the festival was cancelled for the first and only time.[11]

The festival features many initiatives for running a sustainable event such as using composting toilets, rafted reed bed grey water management system, source separated waste streams, composting, low impact cleaning products, reclaimed materials for Festival décor and container return systems on all drink containers and cups. Other initiatives include:

  • Eco Living Village [12]
As part of the sustainability program, Peats Ridge features an Eco Living Village, which is an educational space promoting sustainability activities. Here, a diverse series of workshops, running across the entire duration of the festival, examine a broad range of sustainability issues including: waste reduction, grey water management systems, composting, community gardening and improving workplace sustainability. The Eco Village also features an organic shopping market with organic food and coffee outlets. Markets featuring clothes, crafts, music, toys, food and more are open every day.
  • Educational opportunities [13]
The Peats Ridge team are involved in an educational capacity to promote event sustainability through university lectures, guest speaking to new event managers, event case studies, collaboration with government and community programs and in 2010 were the only Southern Hemisphere founding partner in the United Nations Music & Environment Initiative.
  • Online communities [14]
The festival has developed the online “Model Event” gateway on the Peats Ridge Festival website. This portal shares information on areas such as green procurement, waste management, grey water systems and emission reductions for events of all sizes.

Indigenous program[edit]

The Peats Ridge Festival includes a program dedicated to Australia's indigenous heritage and features strong indigenous components within all elements of the program, including music, dance, food, workshops, movie screenings and artworks. An Indigenous Boardi Space [15] is organised and run by the local Darkinjung people and is dedicated to their stories and culture. Workshops and knowledge sharing sessions are held examining the stories of the land, bush foods, medicines and culture of Australia’s indigenous people. The opening and closing ceremonies of the festival feature elements of Australian indigenous rituals, which are aimed at acknowledging the spirits of the land.

Children's program[edit]

In addition to the dedicated family camping area, the festival features a children’s program.[16] There are three areas that cater for all ages of children; ages 3 to 7, ages 7 to 12 and ages 13 to 17, each with a program filled with art, music, dance, performance and more. The youngest children can enjoy the Rainbow Garden; an under seven’s children’s play area, puppet shows, face painting, children’s yoga, children’s theatre, circus skills workshops and many other children’s performances. For young teens aged 13 to 17, the Chillout Lounge features workshops on song writing, body percussion, cartooning, fashion and jewellery making. In the evenings, the Chillout Lounge is where young people can showcase their talent and sing, recite, dance, juggle or perform. The Lounge also provides space to relax in the couches, paint the space and enjoy live performances and DJs.

New Years Eve[edit]

New Year's Eve is celebrated by a Masquerade Parade in which everybody at the festival, including performers and artists are involved.[17] Costumes and masks are encouraged and there are mask-making workshops where there is access to fabrics and accessories. The New Years parade kicks off in the early evening, and snakes its way through the festival, picking up people as it goes. The remainder of the evening features the usual musical acts and dance parties and continues late into the night.

Workshops and healing area[edit]

The Festival features a wide range of free workshops, all of which are designed to suit adults of all ages.[18] Workshops include Pilates, stand up comedy, tae kwon do, poi, Bollywood, singing, yoga, African dance, juggling, laughter yoga, capoeira and more. The Healing Haven is a focused area for calm and healing and includes workshops and sessions with a focus on natural healing.

Arts and music programs[edit]

The Peats Ridge Festival is recognised for discovering and presenting up and coming bands and artists. There is an application process for artists and musicians which allows new arts and music projects to apply to perform at the Festival. Hundreds of bands and thousands of artists perform each year at the festival.

Arts program[edit]

The Peats Ridge Festival features a dedicated area for arts and theatre, called SideWays Alley, located along the riverfront.[19] The arts program features over 1, 500 artists from all art forms including puppetry, mime, spoken word, dance, music, circus and visual arts. A main feature is the Bohemian Love Theatre, which is described as “a barefoot velvet vaudeville club, boho glam rock ‘n roll circus, a bohemian absinthe den and lost-in-tie faerie tale speakeasy dream world,” [20] and features a number of comedy, dance, circus, cabaret and musical acts. The backyard of the Bohemian Love Theatre is the Avant Garden is a space for painting, organic wine and Sangria and enjoying the surroundings. The application process provides opportunities for new artists to establish themselves in an internationally recognised arena.

Musical acts and line-ups[edit]

The Peats Ridge Festival appreciates all different styles of music and features new and developing bands. Musicians may also apply via a similar application process to the artist’s applications.[21] The festival features eight stages of music, including the dub shack and a disco tent and feature partner stages with sponsors. Stages featured are:

  • Bellbird; the main stage featuring many of the larger bands and is the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies,
  • Lyrebird; a big top with a focus on dub/reggae, blues and chilled out beats,
  • Underworld; features cutting edge, new artists,
  • Chai Temple; the acoustic music stage accompanied by cushions and chai,
  • Phoenix; features a range of new musical acts from electro to jazz to folk to post punk
  • Vic’s Disco; an Eastern European dance and disco party tent,
  • Dubshack; a dedicated dub stage presented by three of Sydney’s biggest bass pushers,
  • Drum and Dance Temple; a host of seasoned performers and facilitators lead the temple with workshops, drumming and dance.

The line-up features a combination of Australian acts and internationally acclaimed artists.




In 2007, the Peats Ridge Festival was regrettably cancelled due to extreme weather conditions. Improvements were made to the site, ensuring that this would be extremely unlikely to reoccur.


(This was 'take two' of the cancelled 2007 Peats Ridge Festival. A similar line-up of performers, as listed below, had previously been booked to perform in 2007. All artists apologised to the crowd during their performances.)





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