26 April, 2024

Savannah bucks national music festival trend

MAREEBA’S own music festival Savannah in the Round is bucking the trend of major festival cancellations across the country, with its reputation continuing to attract international acts like US country superstar Kip Moore.

Festival director James Dein is buoyant about the future of Savannah in the Round which attracts thousands of music lovers every year.
Festival director James Dein is buoyant about the future of Savannah in the Round which attracts thousands of music lovers every year.

Many big music festivals, such as Splendour in the Grass, Grass is Greener, and Groovin’ the Moo, were cancelled for 2024, with increased insurance and production costs, lack of ticket sales, and the cost of living affecting the organisers' ability to keep the festivals running.

Despite this trend, Savannah in the Round is powering forward with a 10-year plan that Director James Dein believes will attract a larger crowd and bigger names to the Mareeba Rodeo Arena. 


This is the fifth time Savannah will be making its way to Mareeba, with this milestone marking it as an “established music festival”. 

Additionally, the organisers have also introduced “Savannah Sounds on the Reef” – a unique event to be held on the Great Barrier Reef exclusively for 100 local heroes to attend.

Mr Dein believes one of the major reasons some events are struggling is the return of major international tours coming to Australia, such as the Taylor Swift Eras Tour and P!NK’s Carnival Tour.

“It’s not just the money of the ticket but also the cost involved in getting there, whether that be Sydney or Melbourne or wherever it may be, and the accommodation,” he said.

“I think it is a real situation where these big international and national tours occur and there is only so much disposable income people have for entertainment – it is definitely one of the big factors.”

To prevent the costs of hosting Savannah from affecting ticket prices, Mr Dein said he was working with local businesses to ensure a cost-effective set-up and pack-down. He said in terms of insurance, his festival was lucky to have a more cost effective option than other festivals across Australia.

While ticket prices are higher compared to last year, Mr Dein said they were looking at ways to make the festival easy to access, particularly for families and concession card holders.

“There is no doubt there has been an increase in the cost of delivery, but our insurance has not gone up. We are dealing with specialist people in the event and festival area and we are finding that we are able to negotiate competitive prices to ensure value for our patrons remains our top priority,” he said.

“Some delivery costs will increase inherently, but we have a very solid base of trusted suppliers and contractors who have helped us deliver the event, and most are local businesses based in Mareeba or Cairns. “They work with us to make sure our event is viable, and we remain sustainable so we are not seeing huge hikes in some of our costs that other festivals may be reporting.

“I can assure you we are prevailing, despite the economic conditions by thinking local and bringing the community with us.”

As Savannah hits its five year milestone, Mr Dein said he was proud to see how it has thrived, particularly during and post Covid.

He hoped the festival would continue to attract music lovers from across the country and confirmed he had seen a massive increase in ticket sales, particularly since announcing international country artist Kip Moore as the headliner.

“It has been a hard slog with Savannah, and I can tell you developing a music festival is, in many respects, no different to establishing a large farm,” he said.

“You don't get you don't get a crop or a harvest or a yield for many years and music festivals are no different.

“You have to invest time, effort and money over a period of time to get them to a point where they're established, so we're heading into year five, and we've had a great outcome occur with Kip Moore.

“The ball bounced our way in being 

able to get Kip as part of his worldwide tour to perform at Savannah and I can tell you the uptake and the interest in our festival since we announced Kip has been phenomenal.”

Tickets for Savannah in the Round are now on sale at 

Concession card holders can receive a discount on their tickets, while children under 12 years old are free (an adult ticket must be purchased to unlock free child ticket to the event in Mareeba).


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