With its mammoth lineup and idyllic location, the 2013 Byron Bay Bluesfest has been marked an ‘exceptional year’ by festival promoters as it has drawn to a close for its 24th annual year.

In a press release from the blues and rock festival held in Tyagarah Tea Farm over the Easter long weekend, festival director Peter Noble commented on being “really proud” of the five day festival, which reached “capacity crowds” of 17,000 per day. Which brings the total attendance rate for Bluesfest 2013 to 85,000, topping even the reported 80,000 figure of last year’s event.

In comparison to some of the country’s big music events, Bluefest is doing big numbers. Soundwave flaunted record breaking numbers for its 2013 edition in February, with attendance rates of  75,000 ticket holders in Sydney, 60,000 in Melbourne, 40,000 in Adelaide. Ticket sales were also strong for Jaunary’s Big Day Out and its 2013 rebranding with nearly 50,000 turning out for the one-day festival in Sydney and Melbourne.

While Bluesfest still does smaller figures day to day, the combined figures of 85,000 demonstrates the festival’s growing success each year, and 2013’s staggering number was largely in part to what Noble says was the “best ever line up to hit Australia.”

The festival this year was a mix of international headliners such as Iggy and the Stooges, Robert Plant, Wilco, Jimmy Cliff, Ben Harper and Grace Potter, as well as local acts including The Cat Empire, Saskwatch and Kim Churchill.

“I believe energy attracts energy and the word spreads about how great this festival is,” said Noble. “Many people in the industry have been declaring Bluesfest 2013 the best ever line up to hit Australia, and I dare say it is, but as important to me is that the word on the ground is Bluesfest 2013 is the best festival vibe ever,” he said. “I believe energy attracts energy and the word spreads about how great this festival is.” – Peter Noble, Bluesfest

He also noted the growing success of the festival, which began in 1990, “punters want to come, and artists want to play – that word of mouth builds momentum and that momentum has built up over time and now we’ve gone to another level.”

Noble commented that there were “just so many” bands to choose a favourite act from the stellar lineup, but did note that: “Roger Hodgson’s performance was spiritual, both he and Santana’s shows are ‘transcendent’, and of course Ben Harper – his solo show keeps reminding me why he belongs on our bill.”

Bluesfest also had a clear social conscious element to the festival this year, with funds being raised for Cystic Fibrosis and Playing For Change, a band which builds music schools in marginalised countries around the world.

Promoters also promise to make some tweaks to improve the festival for its 2014 edition, including “better traffic management control thanks to a direct entry to the North Car Park from the M1 Pacific Highway, an enlarged camping area and more seating so people no longer need to BYO chairs.”

As recently reported, the 24th Annual Byron Bay Bluesfest also found Noble announcing the launch of a new event, Boomerang Festival, which will celebrate Indigenous music, arts, and culture.

Set to be held at the same venue as Bluesfest, Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm, from the 4th-6th of October this year, and already some of the acts have been announced, with Christine Anu, Casey Donovan, and Arnhem Land’s The Chooky Dancer set to help launch the festival

It’s touted to be more than just a music festival though and more of a multicultural music and arts experience. Those in attendance can except visual art displays, knowledge walks, song circles as well as dance rituals and conversation panels.

Festival director Rhonda Roberts will work in collaboration with Noble to showcase Indigenous talent, while the latter has spoke of his pride in being able to give the event a home, ”hosting a significant cultural event on the Bluesfest site which is actually Bundjalung country not only makes sense, but makes me proud,”

Newly appointed Arts Minister Tony Burke has expressed his interest in the festival, but has not confirmed whether the Federal Government will provide financial support to back the festival. Noble has said that the festival hopes to be backed by cultural funding by the government, but ”Whether that happens or not, we’re doing it.”

Check out all the action from Bluesfest 2013 in our five-part photo gallery:

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5|

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