26 March 2024

National Folk Festival in the swing with new, friendlier layout at EPIC

| Ian Bushnell
workers setting up folk festival

The market stalls are up. With less than a week to go, the National Folk Festival site is coming alive. Photos: NFF.

Less than a week from the 2024 National Folk Festival, the grounds at Exhibition Park are being transformed into a colourful, interactive site that will welcome thousands of music fans and interstate visitors over the Easter weekend.

Organisers have moved into their EPIC offices, and Festival Director Heidi Pritchard has been overseeing a reimagining of the site this year so that it has more green space, more flow, and more activity across the grounds.

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The site maps are on the Festival website, showing the new configuration to guide festivalgoers.

This year the festival layout looks more spacious – that’s been a conscious effort on the part of the artistic directors to provide an enjoyable and colourful experience for attendees as they move from venue to venue.

Director Heidi Pritchard (back right) with the crew in the office. She says the site will be greener, softer and more accessible for Festival goers this year.

Ms Pritchard said the major changes included moving two key venues to new sites so they would engage festival goers immediately as they entered the grounds and enliven those areas.

The Bohemia will now be situated opposite the Flemington Road gates, so people will first encounter music. At the other end of EPIC, the popular Flute and Fiddle will take up a site near the northern entry next to the revamped Fitzroy, which will be a venue for more intimate performances this year.

Ms Pritchard said the idea this year was to set up precincts that provided music, food and drink in one location.

She said last year at the Flemington Road end, the first thing people encountered was a white wall – the rear of merchandise and food vendors.

“What we’ve tried to do this year is work with the festival site itself and preserve the green spaces where we can and preserve lines of sight,” Ms Pritchard said.

“The merch tents are gone, which frees up the village green for workshops, pop-up performances and letting the kids run around on grass not concrete.”

It would be a much softer and more colourful landscape, she said

Ms Pritchard said the artistic directors had put a lot of work into making the site breathe so that when crowds pour out of a venue, they can move easily to the next but still experience the external activities, such as pop-up entertainment, dance and music.

You can’t have enough colour. Blank walls are out, and festive shades are in.

She said the instrument lockup and the performers’ Green Room had been moved to the centre of the site so the artists would be at the heart of the festival.

This year’s food offering will be a multicultural buffet spread across three separate areas, catering to all tastes. User-friendly, accessible outlets will replace food trucks.

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Ms Pritchard said festivalgoers sent a strong message to organisers that the trucks were too high off the ground, made life difficult for the elderly and the disabled, as well as not being the right feel for the event.

The festival had spent a lot of time and money making the site as accessible as possible, including establishing an accessible camping ground with crew on hand to lend a hand where necessary.

The tiered seating in the biggest venue, the Budawang, has been installed, ready for the opening concert at 6 pm on Thursday, 28 March.

To learn more, visit the Festival website.

Original Article published by Ian Bushnell on Riotact.

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