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Crowds Turn Out For Fests

03:01 PM Tuesday 2/7/12 | |

After a tumultuous summer for Australian and New Zealand festivals, three NZ fests drew strong crowds over the same Jan. 27 weekend.

The roots and reggae Raggamuffin in Rotorua drew 20,000, as did the Christian music Parachute festival in Hamilton.

Raggamuffin promoter Andrew McManus said, “In the state New Zealand is in right now (I put it down to World Cup hangover) 20,000 was a great result.”

The bill included international acts Ali Campbell’s UB40, Ocean, Sly & Robbie, Arrested Development, Junior Marvin, Big Mountain and Nkulee Dube.

In its fifth year, McManus added, the inclusion of younger acts such as Spawnbreezie and J.Boog drew many first-timers – something to keep in mind when he programs for 2013.

Faced with sluggish sales, Parachute offered NZ$470 family packages for “whatever they could afford.”

One thousand families took up the offer, paying between $1 to $250.

Promoter Mark De Jong said the offer would not be repeated next year.

“But because we run as a charity, we have different priorities to other festivals. We’ll certainly look at different ways to help struggling families who want to come.”

St. Jerome’s Laneway – where acts play in limited-space lanes and car parks – drew a near-capacity 6,500. It was its biggest crowd in its three years in NZ, and its first time on the newly developed Wynyard Quarter waterfront.

Tens of thousands swamped the area as part of Auckland’s 172nd celebrations to witness dragon floats, a sailing regatta, busker competitions and a seafood market.

Laneway’s lineup of local and international acts seemed strong on one-word names – including Cults, Girls, Feist, Gotye, M83 and Horrors.

A temporary hiccup, where drinkers had to wait in a queue 100m long, was fixed quickly, promoters said.

Meantime, Earthtonz’s Missouri-based co-producer Dan Allen confirmed it would return for its second year – despite it selling 2,000 of 10,000 tickets for the New Year’s Eve bash.

He told local media that moving it a week earlier is a possibility.

The inaugural bill included Tommy Lee and DJ Aero, The Crystal Method, The Freestylers, DJ Muggs (Cypress Hill), Kraak & Smaak, AK 1200/DJ Dara/MC Messinian (Planet of the Drums) and Boombox.