Surf Art Markets-2017 Byon Bay Surf Festival

After a two year hiatus the Byron Bay Surf Festival returned on February 24th -26th, 2017 employing a re-imagined way to celebrating our surf culture now.  The Purpose of the festival is to; Create a platform that brings together both surfers and those interested in surfing in a celebration of local, national and international surf culture.. ultimately, to move towards a more sustainable and regenerative industry and lifestyle... and have a good time doing it!" The BBSF 2017 managed to do all of the above, bringing a community of people together for an unforgettable weekend of pure stoke.

Woven Bamboo tipis by Zana Wright

Woven Bamboo tipis by Zana Wright


According to festival director Max Tishchler the 2017 BBSF reached max capacity during the central Byron events including the outdoor Sunset Cinema and seaside Surf Art Markets held along Main Beach. These events started February 24th with the radical One Wave crew getting the festivities started at sunrise with a Fluro Friday yoga/surf session, followed by a beach cleanup with the Clean Coastal Collective, tipi weaving with sustainable architect Zana Wright, and beach bbq with Plastic Free Byron.  That same evening honorary Artists gathered with a warm welcome at Lone Goat Gallery for the BBSF Artshow opening, featuring artists Paul McNeil,  Kei Otuska from Japan, Ozzy Wrong,  Matt Yates, festival founder James McMillan and others.


On dusk the festivals official opening commenced on the market grounds, with a welcome to country from local Aboriginal's and elders. Founder James McMillan introduced the short films as well as the Goodwin family that came all the way from Hawaii to share their beautiful film "Given". Food vendors, vans and trees created the enclosure for the Sunset Cinema, which was projected onto a screen supported by a vintage double decker bus! So very Byron.


Friday's opening night closed with bands at the Beach Hotel footsteps from the outdoor cinema.  First thing Saturday morning the Surf Art Markets were a bustle with activity, free classes with Yantra yoga, delicious local foods, handicrafts, vintage clothes, sufers and surfboard shapers, fin makers, artists, musicians, not for profit orgs, all with a clear focus towards sustainability. 


Taylor Miller, daughter to Trish & Rusty Miller hosted the Surf Lit Lounge filled with interesting people from the surf industry, their books, projects and short films all of which can be referenced on the BBSF official program.  At the same time Patagonia had a Yurt set up for short films created by their ambassadors with brand spokes persons such as freediver Kimi Werner whom shared the short film Smog of the Sea, and surfer/activist Belinda Baggs. Between these two important sites at the Surf Art Markets, experienced waterwomen and men shared insights about living a more sustainable ocean and earth friendly life.


Mick Waters opened the Byron Theater events by talking story and sharing clips from his next film and the 3 years he spent on the road with his family filming. Surfer/filmmaker Cyrus Sutton followed with his powerful documentary Island Earth inducing a post screening Q&A withGeoff Lawton from the Permaculture Institute. Later Dave Rastavich led a group discussion about Grassroots Activism with an esteemed panel of guest speakers.  Dave's partner Eco feminist/surfer Lauren L. Hill also shared her short comedy film "Pear Shaped", followed by an insightful discussion about how women are portrayed and treated in the surfing industry. And finally 'Sliding into the Light' a deeply moving short film by Crystal Homcy had its world premier. Both Pear Shaped and Sliding into the Light are now available for download.

There were other talks, films and premiers not mentioned, I have covered only what I personal saw and could attend. As you can imagine with an festival like this one has to make choices of what to attend, hoping next year there is a bit more space between the talks, films and workshops to allow for even grater attendance.


Over all the vibe I picked up whilst at the Surf Art Markets and talks was that people were grateful for the opportunity to come together and share in a collective way. Conversations were had, connections were made, people were hugged, babies cuddled, and music danced too. Finishing the day off was the Saturday Slide, a live music event featuring music by a killer lineup of Hawaiian singer Paula Fuga, Terepai Richmond, The Band of Frequencies, Bobby Alu and headlining the night G-Love. The only danger about busting a move till 1am is getting up early the next day for the 'freestyle & stoked' event! Look out for my next post of Part 2 of the festivities xx

All Photos by me, more of my pics will be featured in the upcoming NALU magazine in an article written by my talented friend Hiromi Matsubara.