About This Festival
Each long weekend during the Australia Day national holiday, the small town of Lexton in regional Victoria swells from its sleepy population of around 150 to over 10,000 as festival-goers from around the world arrive for the annual Rainbow Serpent Festival.
The Rainbow Serpent Festival has come a long way since it started in 1998, from a small gathering in a secluded clearing to an internationally recognized festival. The festival has become an institution and annual reunion to its loyal followers.
The festival offers much more than the usual lineup of electronic music. It is a chance to truly escape the commercialism of the modern day world and reconnect with the earth in a way that the aboriginals have done for many thousands of years.
Rainbow Serpent is the name of the Aboriginal creation spirit and the festival’s two main stages (Main and Market) open with elaborate traditional ceremonies including elders from around the globe. The Main stage opens with a full traditional Welcome to Country, where local Aboriginies bless the land and attendees. When a rainbow is seen in the sky it is said to be the Rainbow Serpent moving from one waterhole to another. The Rainbow Serpent is a protector of the land and the source of all life. It is one of the oldest continuing religious beliefs in the world and continues to be a major cultural and spiritual influence to the Australian aboriginals to this day.
Rainbow Serpent Festival Is Where The Music Never Stops
The Rainbow Serpent Festival is largely known for its music, featuring genres such as psytrance, chillout, tech house and other variants of these styles. You can always find something to dance to with some of the festival’s six stages running 24/7. The Main stage opens on Saturday evening for 24 hours of wild tunes, lasers and multimedia displays designed to blow your mind. If electronic music isn’t your thing, there’s always The Playground stage with its eclectic mix of hip hop, funk and world music.
The Market Stage, which many consider the Holy Grail of dancing in the Australian Bush, hosts many of the headlining DJs offering a wider variety of styles including tech house, ambient and glitch hop running continuously over a 72-hour period. Mad Monday on the Market Stage is more than just an institution to festival-goers. Mad Monday is said to be the most outrageous costume party in Australia with ten thousand people dressing up (or down) for the occasion. It’s a spectacular sight not to be missed.
For those who prefer a more intimate environment, the Sunset Stage caters to a smaller crowd while the Chillout Stage offers a place to relax and enjoy the chilled vibe while lazing on a beanbag.
Creativity in Abundance
With five workshop spaces, an art gallery, kids’ space, healing area, performer’s stage and even an outdoor cinema, there’s always something beyond the music to do or see. You can also go shopping in one of Australia’s biggest markets.
Another major attraction during the festival is the multitude of artwork on display. Artists are encouraged to showcase exhibitions, sculptures, digital art and paintings, many that spontaneously appear throughout the festival weekend. Be sure to experience the various artworks (from the weird and wonderful to the awe-inspiring and animated) at the Evolve Gallery, which is located in the Lifestyle Village. The festival invests a lot of money, time and effort in visual arts with large-scale installations around the site, VJs providing incredible shows at night and they have even produced Australia’s first hologram display at a music festival.
The Sideshow Fiasco is a stage showcasing Melbourne’s best performance artists, where you can catch anything from burlesque to comedy, fire-spinning to circus and magic. There are family friendly performances, but it’s adults only in the Absinthe Salon and Exotic Imaginarium, tailor-made for madmen and persons of questionable morals only.
A Sustainable Soul
The “soul” mission of the Rainbow Serpent Festival is to be as environmentally conscious as possible. Rainbow Serpent organisers have introduced a range of initiatives making the festival as environmentally conscious as possible. Attendees need to purchase a pass for every car on site to encourage carpooling and are asked to bring only items they will take home with them as well. The music stops occasionally for fun dancefloor clean ups and the “Loot Ute” patrols campgrounds, picking up rubbish and recycling from patron’s homes away from home.
Festival-goers are encouraged to only bring what they need over the four days, while every car that arrives also receives a bag for campsite recycling in exchange for a deposit, which is refunded at the end of the event when you return the bag with your recyclables. With 70% of the event’s carbon footprint related to transport to and from the festival, an alternative mode of transport are shuttle buses that run from the town of Beaufort (approximately 20 minutes away) from Friday to Sunday.
The markets are only allowed to use recyclable food containers and cutlery while the festival gradually moves toward a ‘no disposables’ culture. In 2017, Rainbow Serpent introduced dishwashing stations and some market stalls started serving food only on reusable plates with real cutlery.
Other market stalls sell ethical and sustainable products, from handmade clothing and accessories to art and musical instruments.
Tent, Teepee or Yurt at the Rainbow Serpent Festival?
The festival is a camping event so festival-goers need to bring everything needed to supply their own campsites – including shade and sturdy structures that can withstand strong wind gusts. Many people decide to erect their own tents over the four days or bring motorhomes, but another option is the Sleepy Hollow, which provides premium accommodations as your home away from home for the next few nights. A clear advantage of this option is that your campsite is set up for you when you arrive and will be taken down by the event organizers once you’re set to leave.
In the South campground, attendees will find the festival-within-a-festival that is the theme camps. Every structure is an art installation, there are multiple music stages, and you will even find a roller skating rink in this space where anything goes, and often does.
Families are catered for in a special camping area near the Kids’ Space so the little ones (and parents) can hang out with their new buddies all weekend. Parents have access to power for heating water and to make life easier on a weekend in the bush with kids.