All About The Woodford Folk Festival In Queensland, Australia

The ongoing Woodford Folk Festival is a six-day event from December 27 to January 1, with over 400 acts to be performed across 27 performance spaces
The Bolivia Marka Dance Group at the Woodford Folk Festival
The Bolivia Marka Dance Group at the Woodford Folk Festivalwoodfordfolkfestival/Instagram

The Woodford Folk Festival is one of Australia's largest and best-known events and one of the world's largest folk festivals. This festival is where most artists and musicians gather in Australia to showcase their talents. The festival program is diverse and includes music, dance, cabaret, circus, comedy, workshops, debate, street theatre, films, forums, and visual arts. 

There is also a special presentation of a spectacular fire event on New Year's Day. 120,000 people are estimated to attend the festival. There will be a cap on festival attendance in order to provide a comfortable visitor experience.

About The Woodford Festival

The Woodford Folk Festival is an annual six-day and six-night celebration of music and culture, held from December 27 to January 1 near the town of Woodford, Queensland. The festival features more than 2000 performers and 438 events, covering genres such as folk, rock, pop, blues, roots, world, classical, and more.

 The festival also hosts a circus, cabaret, comedy, street performance, children's activities, talks, and environmental initiatives. The festival is produced by Woodfordia Inc., a not-for-profit organisation that also owns the 500-acre rural property where the festival takes place.

Workshops for activities like pottery, knitting, carpentry, among many others, can be availed at the festival.
Workshops for activities like pottery, knitting, carpentry, among many others, can be availed at the festival.woodfordfolkfestival/Instagram

A Brief History Of The Woodford Folk Festival

From its humble beginnings in Maleny, Queensland, the Woodford Folk Festival has grown into a massive event, attracting tens of thousands of people each year. The festival was first produced by the Queensland Folk Federation, now known as Woodfordia Inc., in 1987 and attracted just 900 attendees.

However, the festival organisers had a grand vision of what a folk festival could be: a creative, inclusive, and inspiring community that would foster the growth of cultures and traditions through generations. This vision has remained a core motivation for the organisation in producing the Woodford Folk Festival.

Over time, the festival at Maleny grew rapidly, receiving attendance from more than 50,000 people within just eight years. As the festival continued to expand, it outgrew its original site, and organisers began searching for a new home. In 1994, the Queensland Folk Federation purchased a 240-acre site in Woodford and began constructing the necessary infrastructure to support the festival.

Over just 16 weeks, organisers built a 16-megaliter dam, water tanks, and a water treatment plant, installed underground water services and 2 kilometres of sewerage lines, quarried a road base, and constructed 6 kilometres of roads. They also installed underground communications at each venue, built bridges, constructed four amenity blocks and pathways, and designed a layout and plan for the festival.

Today, the Woodford Folk Festival is a beloved event that showcases the best of Australian culture and creativity.

Dancers from the Jinibara tribal community joining the festivities
Dancers from the Jinibara tribal community joining the festivitieswoodfordfolkfestival/Instagram

Highlights Of The Festival

With so many different locations, stages, and events to pick from, you possibly can't get bored here. Highlights of the celebration include a few of these:

The Fire Event: A spectacular closing ceremony on New Year's Day, where a symbolic structure is set alight to mark the end of the festival and the beginning of a new year. The ceremony also features music, dance, and storytelling.

The 3 Minutes Silence: A unique tradition on New Year's Eve, where the entire festival goes silent for three minutes to reflect on the past year and welcome the new one. The silence is followed by a candle-lit procession and a fireworks display.

The Sunrise Ceremony: A communal gathering on the hilltop on New Year's Day, where the festival goers greet the sun with Tibetan chants and guest musicians. The ceremony is a way of expressing gratitude and harmony with nature.

A music group performing at the festival
A music group performing at the festival woodfordfolkfestival/Instagram

The Music: The festival boasts a diverse and impressive lineup of local, national, and international artists, spanning various musical styles and cultures. Some of the artists who have performed at the festival include Kate Miller-Heidke, Kasey Chambers, Ben Lee, Regurgitator, FourPlay String Quartet, Božo Vrečo, Tenzin Kunsang, and Yirrmal.

Participants can learn how to make Polynesian ‘Para’ flower crown like the one here at the artcraft workshops.
Participants can learn how to make Polynesian ‘Para’ flower crown like the one here at the artcraft workshops. woodfordfolkfestival/Instagram

The Arts: The festival is a feast for the eyes, with stunning site installations, colourful street theatre, and vibrant parades. The festival also showcases talented circus, cabaret, and comedy performers, as well as inspiring speakers, writers, and activists.

The Workshops: The festival is a place of learning and sharing, with hundreds of workshops on topics such as dance, movement, folk tradition, meditation, yoga, crafts, cooking, gardening, and more. The festival also hosts debates and forums on social, environmental, and political issues.

Sustainable Growth 

The Woodfordia Elders that are part of a tradition at the festival
The Woodfordia Elders that are part of a tradition at the festivalwoodfordfolkfestival/Instagram

What makes the event remarkable is that the organisation has transformed a dairy farm into a festival precinct featuring one of Australia's largest campgrounds. Woodford was the first festival in Australia to undertake such a transformation and is one of the first festivals in the world to own its own land.

The festival's organisers aspire to achieve sustainable and enriching growth, and being caretakers of a large block of land has helped them work toward this goal.

Woodfordia has a strong history of supporting and upholding environmental principles. It has installed permanent water and wastewater treatment facilities on-site, implementing a closed-loop approach to water and wastewater management.

 Over the course of the six nights and days of the festival, a varied and informative environmental schedule of events is offered, and the festival upholds high standards of recycling and on-site composting innovations.

During a period of six days, the event uses up to 6.2 million litres of water. It has 335 shower nozzles that are water-saving, 141 basins, and other tap facilities. Moreover, the event uses 50,368 recycled toilet rolls, which is equivalent to over 1000 km, in its 466 toilets. The event also recycles 100 m3 of cardboard and 10 tonnes of co-mingled recyclable waste, which is an excellent initiative.

 Since 1994, the organisers have planted 100,000 trees and 600 species on the festival site to promote environmental sustainability. From planting trees to erecting butterfly habitats and nesting boxes, Woodfordia has undergone a significant transformation since its inception as a dairy farm.

Getting There

The nearest airport to the Woodford Festival is Brisbane. There are two trains every day that run from Bundaberg to Caboolture by Queensland Rail Travel.

The trip takes 3h 57m, and tickets range from INR 2,100 to INR 3,700. Coast and Country is their long-term transport partner that offers 'Hail and Ride' and booked services to and from the festival site between Caboolture Train Station and the festival precinct.

Entry Tickets

Online Price until Midnight 24/12 for Adults: AUS $652 (INR 37,045.45)

Tickets for the WFF 2022/23 were launched in April and can be purchased and printed online here.

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