FOTSUN 2018 is Port Macquarie’s flagship live music event, ushering in summer with some great live bands, food markets, workshops and three days of camping in the sun next to the beach.

If you have a ticket for FOTSUN 2018 or you’re planning to attend in 2019, here’s a rundown of all things FOTSUN, festival and fun.

Overview of FOTSUN 2018

First held as a free festival in 2001, the Festival of the Sun (FOTSUN) is an annual outdoor music festival. This popular event happens each December at Port Macquarie’s Breakwall Tourist Park. Initially a small festival, FOTSUN has just kept growing.

According to Wikipedia, the festival was started by Simon Luke, who had previously been running numerous small free festivals in the region. When starting out, Simon raised funds from local businesses, with the concept of building a live arts industry in the region. From its humble beginnings, Festival of the Sun became well-known by 2003. 2005 was the first ticketed year, and the event attracted around 1,200 people. Festival of the Sun is coming into its 15th official year and tickets have already sold out! In 2018, this multi-day event invites attendees to camp and stay more than one night. As well as involving musical acts, the festival includes street artists, food trucks, art workshops and a silent disco.

Past acts have included Sarah Blasko, Blue King Brown, Spiderbait, Little Birdy, Xavier Rudd and Gang of Youths. The event has attracted some major sponsors over the years, including Triple J and JB-HiFi.

Who goes to FOTSUN?

Generally speaking, FOTSUN 2018 is for over 18s, although each adult may bring one child under the age of 12. The event attracts music fans from locally and around the state.

Event creator and organiser Simon Luke recently spoke to the Port Macquarie News. He said the strong camping and road trip culture fostered by FOTSUN is “a good thing”. “People want to get out of those built up areas like Sydney and Newcastle to get into the regional towns to spend their dollars, which is a great trend that continues to grow.” Mr Luke says festivals like FOTSUN 2018 are “a really important part of cultural tourism and the regional tourism product.” “I think one of the really positive elements is that festivals like FOTSUN work with so many community groups in the region,” he told the paper.

When you show up for FOTSUN 2018, you’ll notice a positive vibe from people who are looking to have a great time. This adults-only event has a “no d*ckheads” policy. There are terms and conditions in place to remove people who are disrespectful, aggressive or not compliant with the requests of the staff.

The event is BYO but has no alcohol on sale. The FOTSUN website states “intoxication will not be tolerated and could result in denial from the entertainment area and possibly eviction from the festival site until such time it is deemed suitable for you to return.”

FOTSUN 2018 Highlights

FOTSUN 2018 is about so much more than the music. The first day of the event dedicated to a ‘sideshow’ of spectacles. This year’s theme is circus-based. Everyone is invited to bring out their best festival wear and costumes.

In addition, FOTSUN 2018 will be plastic free, with the goal of having no single-use plastics on-site. Food trucks will be selling cans instead of plastic bottles and all food will be served on recyclable materials. There will be no plastic cutlery. Guests are encouraged to bring refillable water bottles, fillable from cold water stations. “To help with the cleanup efforts, FOTSUN will also be using biodegradable garbage bags to collect waste,” says organiser Simon Luke.

This year, the ‘spectacle’ kicks off on December 13th, opening with what they call ‘Wabi Sabi Thursday’. If you’re there, you can visit the Vinyl and Merch Cafe, grab a bite from the food trucks or take a look at the FOTSUN Funhouse.

Then there’s the Camplify Silent Comedy. Grab your headsets and cruise around the food trucks, Funhouse or simply lay on the grass and listen to the event’s live silent comedy set. There are also plenty of market stalls to check out.

And there’s a VIP area… with a catch.

‘Down to Test’ offers punters free access to a VIP tent, phone charging, VIP toilets, ice water and more. To get in, all you have to do is pee in a cup! In return for your sample, you’ll get a free chlamydia test. This is part of an initiative to raise awareness about sexual health. Results are sent via text a week later (or you’ll get a phone call if the news is not so good).

Once the sun goes down on Thursday, the event kicks into full swing. The musical lineup includes:

  • Headliner Vera Blue
  • Pond
  • Winston Surfshirt
  • Slowly Slowly
  • Kwame
  • Jess Locke
  • Clews
  • Halcyon Drive

This range of musical acts has something to suit almost all musical tastes. Many of these bands are Triple J favourites; Aussie musos doing the industry proud.

The focus of FOTSUN 2018 is friendliness and fun. There will be no alcohol on sale and there are restrictions on BYO. The limit is one case of alcohol per person for the event, with a ban on glass and canned alcohol over 7 per cent. To make the environment welcoming and safe for all, there are no-alcohol zones and rules to prevent anti-social behaviour. Caveats also restrict items which may be ‘dumped’ at the end of the event like lounges and ping pong tables. The website lists clear terms and conditions for those who are going along.

Heading to FOTSUN 2018?

Heading to a multi-day music festival is an awesome adventure. You need to arrive prepared as you don’t want to be travelling back and forth for supplies the entire time. Here’s what to pack if you’re attending the event in 2018:

  • Comfy shoes (a couple of pairs which you don’t mind getting dirt on and can walk and jump around in. Also, pack some extra socks to prevent blisters, and thongs for showering)
  • Band-aids (just in case you do get blisters!)
  • Plenty of water (there will be filling stations but it helps to have your own)
  • Reusable water bottle (or a camelbak backpack so you can carry your drink on your back)
  • Packaged food you can grab and go (like energy bars, muesli bars or crackers). These will be handy when you don’t want to line up for a snack, just remember to dispose of your rubbish thoughtfully
  • Non-perishable foods so you don’t have to panic about refrigeration
  • SUNSCREEN so you don’t feel the burn
  • A hat or visor to protect your face
  • Quality air mattress (which will make a big difference to your level of enjoyment on the final day)
  • Ear plugs for when you want to have a snooze without being interrupted
  • Eye mask just in case you need to nap during daylight hours
  • Small first aid kit in case of little emergencies
  • Insect repellant to ward off mosquitos and flies
  • Camping chairs (the ground is only comfortable for so long)
  • Ground tarpaulin for outside your tent
  • Tent and sleeping bags
  • Solar chargers (or some other way to keep your devices going)
  • Rain jacket or poncho (just in case)
  • Gumboots if the forecast is ominous
  • Something cozy for when the sun goes down
  • Wet wipes and deodorant (your friends will thank you)
  • A couple of towels and mini-toiletries, plus a hand-mirror for vanity’s sake
  • Your trendiest festival garb (you may as well look the part!)
  • YOUR COSTUME along the circus theme. Go for gold and stand out from the crowd
  • A water spray bottle and a frisbee or some way to have fun with your friends between acts can also be handy.

How to nail the camping part

With a flood of visitors from around NSW and beyond, it makes sense for FOTSUN 2018 to welcome people to camp for the duration of the festival.

The event’s website has all the details on camping on its FAQs page, starting from when gates open at 2:00pm on Thursday, December 13th. While camping is free, this year the rule is ‘No Car Camping’, which means you have to pay extra if you want to bring your car into the event. The reason for this is to make more space available for people to camp and enjoy themselves. Your camping spot will be allocated on arrival, with a strict limit on marquees and gazebos. Animals on site, open fires and fireworks are no-nos. You can request a spot close to your buddies so you can enjoy the event together.

Some camping tips to get you settled quickly:

  • A torch or headlamp is your camping must-have, along with your tent, tent poles and sleeping bag.
  • Bringing a lantern you can set down or hang up high will also come in handy for outfit changes after dark.
  • Have an idea before you leave of what and when you will eat, and plan accordingly. There will be ample food and water on-site but for breakfast and late-night snacks, you’ll want something to hand. Keep it simple so there’s less to carry and less rubbish at the end.
  • On that note, one thing many campers forget is a supply of garbage bags. Having a few to hand makes it easier to keep your site clean and leave less mess behind when you take off at the end of the event.
  • Finally, a secret tip from festival pros is a flag or marker so you can spot your tent. You could even string up some solar-powered fairy lights for easier discovery after dark.

Fortunately for your nose, FOTSUN 2018 provides hot showers and flushing toilets. You can leave your special camping shovel at home ;).

Key to camping at a festival is to respect your neighbours and the fact that some people hate forgoing a good night’s sleep. If you feel the people camping around you are breaking the unwritten rules of roughing it, speak to security instead of attempting to take matters into your own hands.

One more tip: before you leave, set up your tent at home. This way you’ll know if any poles or pegs are missing and save yourself from having to sleep under a shroud (not so fun).

Staying safe, having a blast

Festivals like FOTSUN 2018 have a lot of work behind the scenes to ensure everyone is safe and has a fantastic time.

The planning you do before you leave will make your experience all the more enjoyable. Do your research, check the weather forecast and take a look at the schedule to figure out which bands you want to see. Keep an open mind and be flexible. Your friends may not want to do the exact things you do for the entire event so prepare to split up and come back together.

To avoid disappointment and wasted time, leave valuable jewellery or belongings behind. If they’re not there, they can’t be lost or stolen and you won’t have to worry about them.

Even though you’re on a mini-holiday, your health is important. Stay hydrated and take regular breaks in the shade if the temperature starts to climb. You may wish to pack some Hydralite or Gatorade, in case you become dehydrated. And while fashion is fun, comfort is a priority. You’ll be hanging out for a few days so dress for enjoyment.

Finally, support your squad. Festivals are about friendship so keep an eye on yours. Don’t be that guy who leaves mates behind or fails to notice that they are overdoing it in terms of their consumption or behaviour. If you see anyone who looks unwell, call for help.

FOTSUN 2018 and Port Macquarie’s finest

One of the best things about FOTSUN 2018 is it welcomes so many visitors to the area. If you’re coming from out of town, why not check out Port Macquarie and the area’s many highlights?

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By the time the festival is over, you’ll probably be a bit over sleeping in a tent. Come and visit us at The Westport Club for a return to civilisation! We have a range of dining options, and fantastic views. Order a delicious meal at Hastings or have some seriously civilised drinks at Jimmy’s Bar and Lounge.

Enjoy the festival and see you soon!

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