Skip to content

Changes to music festival licences

Published on Mar 18, 2019

Feel free to share

Changes to NSW music festival licences came into effect on March 1, 2019. They are designed to provide harm minimisation at music festivals. This applies mainly to events that are deemed to be of high risk by the NSW Department of Industry Liquor and Gaming.


What about Cessnock?

The Hunter Valley is well known for its music festivals, both one day events in the vineyards, and multi day festivals. These events support jobs and bring in visitors and revenue to the area.

According to 2017 figures from Live Performance Australia, six million people attend live performances in New South Wales each year. People who attend music events and festivals inject $325 million into the state’s economy.

Will it affect all music festivals?

All music festivals, regardless of whether they serve alcohol, need some type of licence to operate. In addition to complying with local planning regulations, organisers of music festival that fall under a specific criteria must also apply to the Department of Industry Liquor and Gaming for a limited licence – special event. If the event is deemed to be high risk, the organiser will be directed to apply for a different licence – a music festival licence.

A music festival licence requires the organisers to present a safety management plan as part of their application. This will outline the provisions they have made to improve safety, such as; evacuation points, signage to emergency services, free water and exit points for emergency services.

What do the changes mean?

Many events, and in particular high risk events, will also be required to supply a larger police and emergency service presence.

Some organisers are concerned that the cost of the extra police and emergency services plus inevitably higher insurance premiums will make music festivals prohibitively expensive to stage in NSW. As a consequence some festivals may relocate their events over the boarder to Victoria or Queensland.

The bottom line

Well run, low risk events should continue on much as before. High risk events will need to improve their safety practices and also ramp up police and emergency services. New events will be under greater scrutiny than before.

Events held in the Cessnock LGA need to apply for a development application. Go to the CCC website for more information.


For more on music festival licences go to the NSW Liquor and Gaming website.

Or email:

Phone: 1300 024 720

Scroll To Top