The return of the Byron Bay Surf Festival has been labelled a “huge success” by organisers, surfers and local businesses.

Photo; Andrea Falletta

Festival partner and local brewery, Stone and Wood Marketing Manager, Jasmin Daly said “The festival took on an energy of its own. You could really feel the groundswell from the local community who were keen to connect, celebrate surf culture as inclusive, and showcase how creative and environmentally conscious they are.”

Photos- Top Left; Jérémie Perreault, Top RIght & Bottom; Sarah West

Surfing legend Bob McTavish who brought his world famous McTavish Trim event to Byron Bay for the first time this year for the festival, said “the Byron Bay Surf Festival this year has been just terrific. It’s reminding us all how fun surfing together can be. This weekend has really quite simply been all about celebrating the pure joy you get from surfing and I’m so glad to be a part of it.”

Photos- Top Right, Top Left, Middle Right & Middle Left; Andrea Falletta, Bottom; Jérémie Perreault

Surfer and female filmmaker Lauren Hill said she had never seen so many women at a surf festival before. “I have travelled the world surfing and the Byron Bay Surf Festival has done such a great job making women and men feel equally included and valued.” Hill chose the Byron Bay Surf Festival as the place to hold the world premiere of her short film “Pear Shaped” which was one of the most popular screenings the whole weekend.

“To see so many ladies taking part in the surf sessions which have been until now mostly dominated by men; and to see so many women cheering on from the beach is just awesome. Then you look at all the films, the artwork, the market stalls and conservation groups so strongly represented by the female surf community here, it’s really quite exciting.”

Photos- Top, Middle Left & Middle Right; Sarah West, Bottom; Michaela Weber

Respected California Surf Journalist and longtime Editor at Large for Surfer Magazine, Steve Barilotti, said “There’s nothing coming from such a pure love of surfing like this in the States.” 

Barilotti, who wrote his first article for Surfer in 1987 added “The Aussies bring such a high level of respect and legitimacy to surfing, giving it the gravitas it deserves. This festival offered a critically needed celebration of surfing’s better angels, showcasing the depth and maturation of surfing’s rich culture without the baggage of big money branding you get at traditional pro contests.”

This respect flowed into other many other aspects of the festival as well, especially in the yoga yurt, where guests, both new and seasoned, honoured their body right beside friends and strangers alike. The high attendance and natural flow of the yurt goes to show how much Byron values the important act of tuning in. No attendees seemed to mind the people around them, rather, they appreciated the warm company. The smiles and high vibrations were a testament to the work of those who ran the space all day, so a very special thanks to Paloma & Tara from Yatra Yoga and Victoria and Elisha.


Photos; Sarah West

Festival founder, James McMillan said “We are so stoked with this year’s event. We want to thank all the surf community businesses and supporters, artists, surfers and shapers who all put in so much effort on individual productions from construction through to design. Thanks so much.”

“We all set the bar pretty high with this one,” said McMillan. “The creative highlights for me were the Surf Art Markets and the Art Show. Board Shapers were showcasing such incredible stuff and every stall or tipi looked so cool and interactive. And around the corner at the Lone Goat Gallery the Art Show featured work from some of the most inspiring and influential artists, not only in Oz but from the US and Japan too.”

Photos; Sarah West

For co-director Max Tischler, who has also been working as Jack Johnson’s environmental tour manager for the past ten years, it was the conservation considerations that he was most proud of.
“We had a custom built Woodshed showcasing sustainable wooden boards, a buzzing Conservation Hub filled with NGOs from Byron alongside huge success stories from the other side of the world; our Yurts and tipis were filled with eco-friendly fashions and homewares; we had a recycling and waste management strategy going on the entire time that we all took very seriously and our film selections really got people thinking and talking. It all looked and felt so good. Better than I could ever have imagined ,” said Tischler.

Photos; Top Left & Right; Jérémie Perreault, Bottom Left & Right; Karise Schork

Festival attendance has been estimated at 4000 people for the Friday which kicked off with a beach clean up before settling into an afternoon Art Show Launch and Sunset Outdoor Cinema.

Photos; Sarah West

Saturday’s attendance was estimated at 12 – 15,000 at the Surf Art Markets & Byron Theatre with the Beach Hotel pumping late into the night for their Saturday Slide flagship party.  

Surf Art Market Karise Schork_3828.jpg

Photos; Karise Schork

 “ Anyone who was at the Beachy on Saturday witnessed a jam session that will never be repeated. We gave legend filmmaker, Jack McCoy, the 25th film anniversary party that he deserved, which surfer musician Dave Rastovich hosted with Band of Frequencies, Bobbly Alu, Paula Fuga, Tim Baker, Fletcher Pilon.. but then to have G.Love fly in just for us and go the full spectrum of his repertoir from hip-hop to funk and soul culminating in a jam session with everyone in the house, that last half an hour was pretty amazing.. especially when you see the who’s who of the surfing world bopping along like Steph Gilmore, Glenn Casey, Taylor Steele and Rusty Miller.”

“The Sunset Cinema was the biggest and best outdoor screening we’ve ever had too,” said McMillan. “The best part for us was watching how well everyone responded to the film ‘Given’ that we chose to show. It’s such a beautiful movie and we knew everyone would love it and to see so many people there and all the little grommies running around was magic.”

Photos; Top Left and Right; Sarah West, Bottom; Andrea Falletta

If anyone would like to be involved in the 2018 event, pre-planning will get underway next month. The festival organisers would love to hear from any of our supporters and please feel free to get in touch via email.

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