Nimbin Mardi Grass Festival: managing the impacts

Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Tiyce, M & Dimmock, K 2000, 'Nimbin Mardi Grass Festival: managing the impacts', in J Allen, R Harris, LK Jago & AJ Veal (eds), Proceedings of Events beyond 2000 : setting the agenda : Conference on Event Evaluation, Research and Education, Sydney, NSW, July, Australian Centre for Event Management, Sydney, NSW, pp. 222-230. ISBN: 186365562X

Presentation available on Open Access


The Mardi Grass Festival is an annual political rally against the illegality of cannabis (Help End Marijuana Prohibition) as well as a celebration and demonstration of alternative lifestyle choices. Held at the time of the cannabis harvest, the festival runs for three days over the long weekend in May. A survey of those attending the festival was conducted in 1997 and again in 1999 to examine certain aspects of managing the festival. The surveys collected information on demographics and expenditure as well as both visitor and resident perceptions. Also, interviews with event organisers and other information collected from business, media and other sources provided considerable insight into the impacts of the festival on the local and regional community. A comparison is made of the economic benefits realised in the local Nimbin economy from the two festivals, by event organisers and participants, and local and regional retailers and suppliers. Issues such as leakage of festival benefits out of Nimbin are considered as a result of the study. From social and cultural perspectives, Mardi Grass generates substantial interest. The festival is an avenue for developing non traditional creative and artistic expression. Values and beliefs that underpin alternative lifestyle approaches are reinforced. Similarly, it generates interest and even greater awareness of the political issues that motivate the event. The controversial substance of the celebration attracts the inquisitive who may be only seeking non committal entertainment value. Further, it reminds of the tensions created within communities by a desire to protest against particular freedoms. The role of management in minimising negative impacts on a range of environments was central to this study. This includes the impact of festival visitors on other local infrastructure. Similarly, marketing and management opportunities and recommendations are made as a result of the findings.