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7 Free Things to Do in Byron Bay

Visiting Byron on a budget? There are plenty of free things to do in Byron Bay. Check out 7 of our favourites below.

1. Watch the sunrise from Cape Byron Lighthouse

Be one of the first in Australia to watch the sunrise – there really is no better way to start the day in Byron Bay. Walk from the Wategos car park up to the iconic Cape Byron Lighthouse for breathtaking panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and Byron Bay. As the sun rises over the water, you might be lucky enough to spot dolphins playing in the day’s first light.

2. Wander through the Byron Bay Markets

On the first Sunday of each month, the Butler Street Reserve plays host to the popular Byron Bay Markets. With a range of local and imported arts and crafts, fashion, beauty, kids’ stuff and food, the unique Byron Markets are must for any visitor to the region. Entry is free, but you’ll probably be tempted to pick up a souvenir or two (or at least a Byron Bay Organic Doughnut)!

If you're not in Byron for the first Sunday of the month, chances are there are other markets on in the Byron region. Check out our upcoming markets calendar.

3. Check out the Lone Goat Gallery

Byron Bay and surrounding regions are home to some of Australia’s most talented visual artists, so check out what’s on at the Lone Goat Gallery next time you’re in town. Located on the corner of Lawson and Middleton Street, this vibrant exhibition space is within walking distance from the centre of town.

4. Explore waterfalls near Byron Bay

Just a short drive from Byron Bay you’ll find two stunning waterfalls: Minyon Falls (about 45-minute drive) and Killen Falls (about 30-minute drive). Take the whole day to visit both. Stop for lunch at a hinterland eatery, or pack a picnic to enjoy in the scenic surrounds.

5. Sit on the beach

Byron has a lot to offer, but one of the very best ways to soak up the sights, sounds, and smells of Byron Bay is to sit on the beach and do nothing. With white sand, picturesque headlands, and crystal clear water, Byron is home to some of the world’s most stunning beaches. Swim, surf, read, sleep, or people-watch, a visit to Byron Bay is not complete without a trip to at least one of the area’s beautiful beaches.

6. Catch some live music

Byron Bay has a thriving nightlife, including venues that offer free live music everyday of the year. The Railway Friendly Bar (known as The Rails) is one such place. Located on Johnson Street, The Rails is the perfect place to meet with friends and check out the local talent.

7. Watch a free movie

Once a month, the Beach Hotel puts on a free movie night. With outdoor seating, blankets to keep you warm, and a range of movie snacks on offer, it’s the ultimate movie experience in Byron Bay. Check their Facebook Page to keep up-to-date with the next monthly movie night.

2017 Mullum Music Festival

Mullum Music Festival (MMF) is a boutique festival in Mullumbimby, a quaint but vibrant little town in the hinterland of Byron Bay, NSW. Celebrating its 10th festival in 2017, which has gradually grown from very humble beginnings since the inaugural event back in 2008 – a memorable year for Mullum with the refurbishment and renovation of the Civic Hall, the epicentre of the festival.

The unique structure of MMF creates a special community atmosphere, adding a distinct and special flavour to the event, which festival goers hold dear to their musical hearts.

The action packed program is spread across multiple venues throughout the town. The use of existing structures is a very special aspect of the festival and reinforces not only the ‘roaming community’ vibe of the event, but also the sustainability of the town both financially and environmentally – two things which the organisers work very hard to ensure.

Artists are routinely seen mingling with the crowd and jumping in as guest performers all over the festival as a part of the laid back family atmosphere and the calibre of attending artists (as both performers and punters) is nothing to sneeze at. Mullum has been blessed with the likes of The Church, Ron Sexsmith (CAN), Ajak Kwai (Sth Sudan), Montaigne, Olympia, Tash Sultana, The Basics, Elana Stone, Marlon Williams (NZ), Robert Forster, Pieta Brown (US), Nano Stern (CHILE), Mama Kin, Arte Kanella, Megan Washington, Montaigne, All our Exes Live In Texas, Sticky Fingers, Emma Donovan & The Putbacks, King Tide, Tinpan Orange, Mojo JuJu, just to name a few...

The vibrant annual street parade and Mullum’s own Magic Bus have also become favourite festival hallmarks.

Since the beginning festival organisers, Red Square Music, have worked to maintain the individuality, authenticity and integrity of the festival on a number of levels. Not only does the event support the town, its musicians and the national and global music world, but it includes several programs to reinforce and promote sustainability. One of these is The Mullum S.E.E.D. program which involves a series of educational, sustainability focused talks and workshops which take place alongside the music timetable.

The MMF also continues its commitment to nurturing youth in, not only the music industry, but in a wide range of industries, offering a unique youth mentorship program for young musicians and also a range of TED-style talks for youth which fall under the banner of The Youth Training Station (formed in 2014).

Since its inception in 2008 when opening night was very nearly rained out and people came out of the woodwork driving miles to avoid fallen trees and powerlines to support what they knew would be a worthwhile event, the festival has grown from strength to strength, evolving and transforming along the way to become one of the most successful boutique festivals in the country.

The Mullum Music Festival - November 16th - 19th 2017. Further information and tickets, visit www.mullummusicfestival.com.

Byron Writers Festival 2017 Full Program

Byron Writers Festival (4-6 August) reveals an exciting and compelling program featuring more than 130 guests. The 3-Day 2017 Festival will unfold across six stages at the stunning beachside Festival site, and will be complemented by diverse writers’ workshops, satellite events and literary dinners throughout Byron Bay and the wider Northern Rivers region.

‘The 21st Byron Writers Festival program aims to soar high across many different dominions. We seek to inspire, engage and cultivate accessible conversations between our writer guests and avid audiences,’ said Festival Director, Edwina Johnson.

‘We are especially proud of this year’s Program ¬– for its cultural diversity, scope and probing amalgamation of important topics and different writing genres.’

Acclaimed Australian novelists include Kate Grenville, Ashley Hay, Anita Heiss, Hannah Kent, A.S. Patric, Nicolas Rothwell, Kim Scott and Byron Bay based Rob Drewe who will launch his new novel Whipbird at the Festival. They join a best-selling line-up of Australian crime writers, including David Free, Mirandi Riwoe (M.J. Tjia), Michael Robotham and Jock Serong.

ABIA Award winner and rock icon Jimmy Barnes will discuss his bestselling, critically acclaimed memoir, Working Class Boy. Legendary singer and songwriter Tex Perkins will reveal his newly released autobiography. The two will come together for a special ABC Radio National session with presenter Sarah Kanowski. Sarah Blasko will feature in a one-on-one conversation with The Saturday Paper’s Erik Jensen as well as a Music Makers session with musician and novelist Holly Throsby.

Richard Roxburgh and Andrew Knight take us behind the scenes of the hugely popular TV-series Rake. Roxburgh will also entertain at Kids Big Day Out with his first children’s book Artie and The Grime Wave. In his startlingly honest memoir My Idol Years seventies pop star, barrister and Australian Idol judge Mark Holden spins the chair for us on the TV and music industries.

Master illusionist and escapologist Cosentino will share his greatest trick – how he learned to read – and was transformed from a bullied isolated 12-year-old boy with learning difficulties to one of the world’s most popular magicians. Sudanese refugee Deng Adut will recount his journey from child soldier to lawyer and 2017 NSW Australian of the Year alongside his co-author Ben Mckelvey.

Other highlight memoirists and biographers include Caroline Baum, Jane Hutcheon, Nikki Gemmell and Kim Mahood whose Position Doubtful Tim Winton nominated as his 2016 favourite book saying: ‘If anyone's written more beautifully and modestly about this country and its people I'm not aware of it. I think it's a treasure.’

Politics, much-needed debate and a good dose of humour will shine a light on the key issues facing Australians and the world when leading commentators take Festival centre-stage. Peter FitzSimons argues The Case for a Republic in the annual Thea Astley Lecture; satirist John Safran and respected journalist David Marr unravel the second coming of Pauline Hanson and the socio-political landscape that has given rise to the likes of Trump. Susan Carland makes the case that feminism and Islam can be complementary in Fighting Hislam; The Hon. Dr Barry Jones takes us on a journey through the music and literature that has inspired him, while Gold Walkley award-winning reporter Caro Meldrum-Hanna gives insight into her investigative journalism for ABC TV Four Corners.

The hugely popular Best of Insiders event returns to Byron Theatre with host Barrie Cassidy and panelists Malcolm Farr, David Marr and Laura Tingle taking us through all the big political developments of 2017. The Festival also pays tribute one of our greats, John Clarke, with a special evening event at Elements of Byron featuring Bryan Dawe and Andrew Knight.

The Festival also features media luminaries Julia Baird, Paul Barclay, Jennifer Byrne, Richard Fidler, Clementine Ford, Antony Funnell, Peter Helliar, John Lyons, Kerry O’Brien, Tracey Spicer, Lisa Wilkinson and Tony Jones who will talk about his debut novel and political thriller The Twentieth Man.

Charlie Veron, known as ‘the Godfather of Coral’, invites us to explore the wonders of his Life Underwater. He will also introduce a special screening of a startling documentary ‘Chasing Coral’. Lawrie Zion takes us into the eye of the storm with Our Weather Obsession. Acclaimed scientist Tim Flannery investigates exciting new technologies with Sunlight and Seaweed. Best-selling author and long-time farmer with a PhD in social change Charles Massy discusses regenerative agriculture, while Bruce Pascoe challenges the claim that pre-colonial Aboriginal society was essentially a hunter-gatherer society in his award-winning book Dark Emu.

Kate Cole-Adams explores of the gift of oblivion with Anaesthesia; and David Gillespie reveals the science of identifying and dealing with psychopaths at work and home with Taming Toxic People. Numbers nerd Adam Spencer will encourage us to get our geek on and beloved broadcaster and author of more than 15 books Robyn Williams will guide us through 40 years of ABC Radio National’s Science Show.

Art critic for The Boston Globe Sebastian Smee paints a fascinating picture of four friendships, betrayals, and breakthroughs in modern art in The Art of Rivalry. Artists Joshua Yeldham, Venkat Shyam, and Kim Mahood come together with Jill Eddington to discuss Making Art About Country.

International guests travelling to Byron Bay include US novelist Kayla Rae Whitaker whose debut novel The Animators is a dazzling story of female friendship; one of Indonesia’s most influential writers Eka Kurniawan; and celebrated columnist for The New York Times Roger Cohen. They will be joined by acclaimed UK writer and foreign affairs reporter Christina Lamb; Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Mei Fong whose recent book One Child reveals the true cost of China’s one-child policy, and by Indian-born British writer, lecturer and broadcaster Kenan Malik who traces the developments from The Satanic Verses to Charlie Hebdo in his book From Fatwa to Jihad.

Award-winning science writer Dava Sobel looks to the stars to reveal the hidden history of female astronomers in The Glass Universe, while American biology professor David George Haskell puts a stethoscope to nature’s most magnificent networkers and listens to The Song of Trees. Celebrated New York based philosophy professor Emrys Westacott shows us why less-is-more and shares The Wisdom of Frugality.

On her recent Australia Council trip to India, Festival Director Edwina Johnson encountered many wonderful writers, artists and speakers. Three will feature at the Festival – novelist and poet Kunal Basu, novelist and performance storyteller Vayu Naidu and celebrated Gond artist and now published author Venkat Shyam.

Kids Big Day Out on Festival Sunday offers a jam-packed, fun-filled program for the whole family with a huge array of activities for kids of all ages including the chance to meet their literary heroes. On hand to spark their imaginations will be Hilary Badger, Tristan Bancks, Morris Gleitzman, Peter Helliar, Lucas Proudfoot, Sally Rippin, and Richard Roxburgh.

The Festival is again partnering with local arts organisations to present additional Feature Events outside Byron Bay. These include Jimmy Barnes in conversation with Matt Condon at Lennox Head Cultural & Community Centre Saturday 5 August (Partner: Lennox Arts Board); John Safran in conversation with Bec Mac at Lismore City Hall Friday 4 August (Partner: NORPA); and Joshua Yeldham who will open his exhibition Endurance at the Tweed Regional Gallery Friday 4 August. These events complement other Feature Events, Performances and Literary Dinners throughout the Festival. Patrons are advised to book early for these in-demand sessions.

Byron Writers Festival 2017 will unfold from 4-6 August in the beautiful grounds of Elements of Byron resort.

It will be preceded by a series of hands-on skills development writing Workshops commencing on 31 July and the annual Festival Schools Programs for primary and secondary school children across the region. The Byron Writers Festival Road Trip will feature spoken word artist Miles Merrill and novelists Sophie Green and Jennifer Down aboard the StoryBoard bus that is headed to Casino, Glen Innes and Tenterfield.

Byron Writers Festival All tickets on sale now Festival Dates: 4-6 August 2017 Tickets: byronwritersfestival.com or call (02) 6685 5115

Awaken Meditation Retreats in Byron Bay

With breathtaking beaches, lush tropical rainforest, and idyllic hinterland scenery, Byron Bay is the perfect place to escape, unwind, and relax. Experience Byron’s natural beauty with a five-day yoga and meditation retreat, hosted by Awaken Meditation Retreats.

Run by life coach and author Karen Wilson, the retreats focus on self-development, with an emphasis on the practice of meditation and mindfulness. Learning to quiet the mind and bring your focus into the present moment can be life changing, and there’s no better place to start this journey than the beautiful Byron Shire.

Awaken yoga and meditation retreats include daily yoga, daily meditation and mindfulness practice, all meals (delicious vegetarian food), excursions and explorations of Byron Bay and surrounds, and twin share or private room accommodation.

Each retreat is held in a different location. Usually, they take place in a private holiday house in the Byron Shire situated either within walking distance to the beach or among the rolling hills and luscious greenery of the hinterland. Connecting to the natural environment is an important part of Awaken yoga and meditation retreats.

Group sizes are kept small to ensure each and every individual is given care and attention within a peaceful, personal, non-judgmental environment.

Byron Bay’s Awaken yoga and meditation retreats teach guests tools and techniques they can use to soften the mind, minimise stress, and experience greater peace in their day-to-day lives.

Secure your place in an upcoming retreat here.

To learn more, visit www.awakenmeditationretreats.com

Harvest Food Festival 2017

Taste the very best of the Byron region with Northern Rivers Food at the 2017 Harvest Food Festival, on again from Friday, May 5 to Sunday, May 7. A celebration of local produce, this year's festival is a chance to sample gourmet food, beverages, and other culinary delights. 

Experience fine-dining at the opening and closing events, and explore the beautiful Northern Rivers area as you travel from venue to venue learning and tasting the diverse range of food and drink on offer. 

This year's program is packed with foodie opportunities. Highlights include the following:

  • The release of the brand new 'Brookies' Gin at the Cape Byron Distillery.
  • Cocktails among the sugar cane at Husk Distillers in scenic Tumbulgum.
  • Feast with good company in historic Clunes with local Chef Francisco.
  • Learn about and sample artisanal cheese in picturesque Burringbar.
  • Take a tour of macadamia, limes, and vegetable farms around Corndale.
  • And much, much more...

You can book tours, tastings, and fine-dining dinners individually, or treat yourself to the entire Harvest Food Festival. 

Check out the full program and map here.

Learn more about the Harvest Food Festival 2017 and buy tickets at harvestfoodfest.com

Winter Moments at The Byron at Byron

There are so many reasons to visit Byron this winter, and the Byron at Byron has a package sure to entice. Immerse yourself in the various complimentary experiences on offer here at The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa. The iconic and much loved Byron at Byron is a haven of indulgence and relaxation, check in and check out today.

Winter Warmer Package From $399 per room per night 

  • Overnight accommodation for two
  • Upgrade to a Superior Suite
  • Full buffet breakfast for two
  • Hot chocolate to enjoy by the fire bar 
  • One box of Duck Creek chocolate macadamia nuts  
  • Cheese plate matched with a bottle of Australian wine
  • 10% discount on spa treatments 
  • Complimentary WiFi access
  • Complimentary Daily Yoga

Conditions Apply
Valid for travel from 1 May 2017 - 31 August 2017, subject to availability, minimum 2 night stay on weekends, offer not valid for existing bookings, upgrade subject to availability. 

Visit the Byron at Byron website for further information and bookings.

2017 Bluesfest Re-Cap

After five days of incredible live music, the Byron Bay Blues Festival 2017 has come to an end. This year we enjoyed perfect weather, and a line-up packed with both music legends and up-and-coming talents.

The headliners this year included some huge names: Patti Smith, Santana, the Zac Brown Band, Madness, Buddy Guy (full of energy at 81!), and Neil Finn. Each put on a memorable show or two.


 
St. Paul and the Broken Bones and Vintage Trouble were two standout acts. Both front men treated their audiences to exciting and dynamic performances.


 
Up-and-coming artists brought down the smaller Delta and Juke Joint tents each night. Melody Angel, Nikki Hill, Eric Gales (mind-blowing up-side-down guitar playing), and the Record Company were some of our favourites.


 
The absolute best act, however, was Patti Smith and her band performing Horses on Thursday night. At 70 years old, her performance was alive with vigour and attitude, and nothing short of inspiring. In her Friday afternoon acoustic set, she read a few passages from her memoir Just Kids, showing another facet to her artistic genius.


 
The Boomerang Festival at Bluesfest added a cultural dimension, with the many workshops and performances that took place onsite.


 
Despite the rain leading up to the festival, there was nothing but sunshine over the Easter long weekend. And as always, there was plenty of delicious food to be enjoyed. See you again next year, Bluesfest!

2017 Nimbin Roots Festival

From September 15 – 17, over 50 talented artists will perform in Australia’s counter-culture capital for the annual Nimbin Roots Festival. After selling out in 2016, this year’s festival is set to be bigger and better than ever with two new stages and one extra day.

The Nimbin Roots Festival offers authentic, original, and raw roots art and music in various venues throughout the town. The venues – including the outdoor Rainbow Power Stage and the historic Nimbin Bush Theatre – are located short distances from each other, creating a community of walking festivalgoers.

This year’s lineup will see a diverse mix of local, national, and international musicians and artists perform Americana, Bluegrass, Folk, Australiana, Old Blues, and world music. American group The War and Treaty will share their Gospel style tunes, while the brand new Aquarius Stage will showcase Nimbin’s finest.

The festival will kick off on Friday afternoon, with a special opening concert on Friday night featuring performances from local Bunjalung dancers. The festival will close on Sunday evening with the Australian Roots Music Awards.

As well as the musicians, the Nimbin Roots Festival has invited a number of visual artists to display their unique work in the festival gallery. Art installations, interactive artworks, and themed camping also feature throughout the festival venues and campsite.

The Abundance Village will host a number of exciting workshops, including yoga, philosophy, permaculture, live art, weaving, poetry, belly dancing, body art, and kids’ activities. And, a community market area will host up to 30 colourful market stalls where festivalgoers can pick up a piece of Nimbin to take home with them.

The Nimbin Roots Festival is proudly moving toward sustainable forms of energy to power the live performances and art spaces, with a number of venues using solar power.

Festival tickets include opening and closing performances, as well as entrance into all venues and participation in all workshops.

Buy tickets and learn more at www.nrfest.com.

Byron Bay Triathlon

Byron Bay Triathlon is like no other - 13 May 2017! One of the most popular triathlons in Australia it has a race for you! Kids through to Pros, Tempta, Sprint Olympic.

Byron Bay Triathlon has been a magical calendar event for 22 years now. It’s been The Triathlon to mark the end of each year’s triathlon season. That has made BBT a great Party Weekend in one of the world’s most idyllic locations.

Don’t want to go the race alone? Register in one of our team divisions and finish the Byron Bay Tri together! The race kicks off at midday so you can sleep all morning and hit the beach in the afternoon with your mates.

The Byron Bay Tri is sanctioned and run under Triathlon Australia guidelines.

For further information, visit www.byronbaytri.com.au.

Popped Urban Laneway Activation

This May, one of Byron Bay’s most notorious dead spaces will be invigorated by Popped Creative: a new, innovative collective that has an inspired vision for the future of arts and culture in our region.

In just one week, a team of Byron Bay’s most talented street artists will transform ‘Surf Alley’: the tired laneway in Johnson Street that has previously been used as nothing more than a pedestrian thoroughfare and hot spot for late-night anti-social behaviour.

Popped Creative is Byron Bay’s newest events and creative services firm. Popped is collaborating with a team headed by local artist Austin of Nitsua, on the transformational project, which will be celebrated on the weekend of Friday 19 and Saturday 20 May with a urban laneway activation event, encompassing live art, street food, bar, music, cool lighting, green walls, bespoke sustainable furniture, talks & ideas program, and much more.

The event creates a platform for emerging artists who would not otherwise have an opportunity to engage with the local community. The Fresh Air Gallery is a live street art gallery that will auction the finished artworks on Instagram at the end of the night, raising money for a charity of the gallery's choice, along with Popped's chosen beneficiary, the Byron Community Theatre, for its much needed upgrades.

“This is the first of its kind for Byron,” enthuses Creative Director Abbie Gibson, “We are bringing the gallery to the street, and making the arts more accessible for the wider community. It also gives our artists an opportunity to make money from their art, and garner exposure that will generate future opportunities. We are passionate about arts and culture, and want to see our local arts community thrive”.

Marketing & Media Manager Liesel Arden says “This is very much a local project with international ambitions. Our goal is to lead a new and exciting direction for regional arts; Byron Bay is the perfect place to set the precedent. As a community we can demonstrate to a global audience that there is a new generation of regional arts that are world-class, ethical, and viable all at the same time”.

The full program will be distributed throughout the region leading up to the event.

POPPED runs from 5pm – 11pm Friday 19 and 12pm - 11pm Saturday 20 May 2017.

Tickets go on sale Monday 27 March 2017 at 9am, $10 each, and can be purchased via Eventbrite or at the door. For an additional $5, ticket holders can purchase a return bus ride from outer suburbs Lennox Head, Bangalow, Brunswick Heads & Mullumbimby.

Learn more at www.poppedcreative.com.

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