It wasn’t that long ago that the Australian winter was a complete dead-zone for music festivals, with not many punters being all that keen to brave the cold, rain and mud unless they were heading to Splendour in the Grass.
A few years ago, though, a group of festival heads had the idea to take one of the fun parts of winter – namely, belting down a snowy hill on your skis – and merge it with the best parts of the emerging boutique festival scene. In 2015, Snowtunes was born, and it’s only gotten bigger.
Now in its third incarnation, the festival and its lineup has grown each year, and 2017 has seen the festival expand to a two-night event with two stages as well. With Gang of Youths, Drapht, SAFIA, Tkay Maidza, Skegss and plenty more taking to the stages at night, and the slopes beckoning during the day, there’s something here for just about everyone.
We’re always pretty excited to see live music promoters take a new idea and run with it, so if you’re thinking about heading along to Snowtunes this year, here’s everything you need to know.
Those are definitely some pretty spectacular festival grounds.
Wait, we can go skiing too?
Yep, that’s half the fun, and you’ll be able to spend your day cruising (or belting) down the slopes, and then trade the mountain for the moshpit, with the music running from the afternoon onwards each day.
There are different packages available depending on how much skiing or boarding you want to do, and plenty of choice as far as runs are concerned, so you can take it easy on a green run if you’re a beginner (or just feeling a bit green from the night before). There’s genuinely not much that’s better for a hangover than getting out in some fresh air and letting gravity do the work.
The festival is located in the heart of Lake Jindabyne, conveniently between the famous ski slopes of Perisher and Thredbo, and offers a whole bunch of packages (2 day lift passes and various accommodation) to allow you to do just that. The music starts up in the arvo and runs until late, so you can ski or snowboard all day and catch all the awesome acts on offer at night.
Having said that, there are plenty of other ways to soak up the atmosphere too. If you’d rather chill out and do your skiing vicariously, there will be a bunch of extreme skiers and boarders hitting the man-made ski jump throughout the day and plummeting into an inflatable platform. If you’re feeling a bit adventurous, there’s also a free-fall tower above it to jump off, letting you get an adrenaline rush without even strapping your bindings on (and a VIP ticket gets you as many jumps as you can handle).
The hint is in the name – definitely expect snow, as well as tunes.
An avalanche of bands
As far as the music goes, adding an extra stage and an extra night this year has meant more big names across all sorts of genres. With dedicated ‘Live’ and ‘Electronic’ stages, you’ll definitely find something you like.
First of all, there’ll be plenty of guitar on offer if you feel like a mosh, lead by local punk champs Trophy Eyes, Skegss and DZ Deathrays, with Sydney grunge outfit The Dead Love and Central Coast rockers One Day Apart joining the fray. Better yet, South Africa’s multi-platinum Prime Circle are making their way to Oz for the first time, adding a nice slab of international flavour to the bill.
Gang of Youths will definitely be one of the main draws, along with everyone’s favourite guest vocalist Thelma Plum and the suddenly-buzzing triple j Unearthed artist Ruby Fields, while hip hop heads old and new will find something to like with Drapht, Tkay Maidza and 26th Letter on the bill.
Veering into the more electronic side of things, dance fans will definitely be happy with SAFIA and Northeast Party House leading the charge, not to mention a hand-picked assortment of major production talent from all across the country.
You’ll get Perth producer Elk Road, Brissy boys Mashd n Kutcher and Melbourne RnB maestro DJ Horizon, as well as the Gold Coast duo of deep/tech house producer GLDNSMK and Guy Sebastian’s good mate Paces. Meanwhile, Sydney boasts a stack of big-name producers in Jesse Bloch, Nina Las Vegas and DJ Tigerlily, plus bona fide trap-lords Enschway and Oski.
There’s a handy playlist right here to get you geared up.
How’s the serenity
Australia has some pretty beautiful locations for music festivals these days, putting the bland paddocks of old to shame, but there aren’t many that can compete with being among the snow-capped mountains along the pristine shores of Lake Jindabyne.
The festival grounds are located right in a renowned hot spot for Australia’s skiers and snowboarders, sitting smack-bang between the ski fields of Perisher and Thredbo – two of the best mountains in the country. Not to be outdone by mother nature, though, festival organisers have done their best to match up to the glorious surrounds, with the impressive main stage frequently lit by fireworks to give you that festival atmosphere out in the wilderness.
You won’t be camping in the snow like a wildling, however, as the festival grounds are a short way from accommodations in the Jindabyne town centre, with regular shuttle buses running between town and stage.
Better yet, if you want to go all-out, a VIP pass will not only give you the usual bonuses of special viewing areas and private bars and bathrooms, but also unlimited freefall jumps if the skiing doesn’t get your adrenaline pumping enough already, and your own private fire pits to relax by afterwards.
Here’s what everyone was treated to last year, and 2017 is packing twice as much.
Alright, what do I need?
Obviously, despite the fire pits, fireworks and warmth of the crowd, this is a snow festival – so make sure you rug up as much as you can, thermals included. Even if you’re not intending to belt down the mountain, we’d recommend at least stopping by your local Salvo’s and grabbing the gaudiest ski jacket you can find, and maybe a distinctly non-matching beanie to go with it. Of course, anything you forget to bring you can buy or hire on the mountain, including your skis or board.
Other than that, you’ll just need your tickets, and there are a variety of options to suit everyone. Passes for the music side of things start at $79 for a one-day trip, or $129 for both days and nights (plus booking fee), while the fancy VIP package won’t break the bank at $249 either.
If you also want to strap some skis on, you’ll be sorted with either two or three-day bundles that include your festival ticket and a Thredbo lift pass, at $325 or $425 including booking fee – or a $499 ‘Snow Worries’ package that’ll sort you out with all of your lift passes and gear and get you skiing as quickly and easily as possible.
And if you don’t feel like driving up? Chartered buses from the usual nearby hubs are available when you book your ticket – which you can do right here.
Snowtunes lineup 2017
Friday September 1st
Mashd N Kutcher
Northeast Party House
One Day Apart
Saturday September 2nd
Gang of Youths
Nina Las Vegas
The Dead Love