‘MardiGrass’, shouldn’t that be Mardi Gras? Have I spelt that wrong? Nope… If you’ve ever visited Nimbin then you probably already have a clue that the spelling is correct. Nimbin is a very interesting little town in Australia and if you’re staying in Byron Bay then you really should join the Nimbin Grasshoppers tour to experience this unique place of tie dyed locals, hemp stores and some tasty ‘cakes’ for sale.

If you really want to know what the Nimbin Mardi Grass festival is really like then you should watch this video!

As you might already have guessed The MardiGrass festival is something slightly different to the Sydney Mardi Gras; MardiGrass is a cannabis law reform rally and festival held annually in the town of Nimbin.

History of Nimbin Mardi Grass

It all started back in 1993 after some fairly high profile tension in the town that March. For the previous few decades there had been numerous arrests and raids in Nimbin and then a period where a lot of random street searches had been carried out with what was described as ‘rough treatment’. Some of the locals then took part in a spontaneous protest to the recent upsurge in arrests and searches in March 1993, pelting the police station with eggs and toilet paper.

nimbin mardigrass
By Mombas2 Peter Terry (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
This spontaneous protest led to some less than favourable newspaper articles about the Nimbin community, and so it was felt that a more peaceful protest would be more appropriate.

“On 1 May 1993 people gathered by the local creek for the rally. They also had a good time with their colourful bright clothing coloured with dye of food colouring. Bob, dressed as a nun led the people while blowing on a tuba. There was only a small group at the start (along with a giant joint made of a large sheet and other assorted household goods).

The big joint acted as a giant magnet for the townsfolk. By the time they reached the police station they were, by most accounts, over a thousand strong.

Shortly after, backup arrived, but not before the media who began to broadcast images of the event to the country and world. The cops found themselves in the unenviable situation of not being able to act against the townsfolk. They were unable to use aggressive force against them on camera, and as such watched on as the protesters marched forward.” – wikipedia

Since the first rally in 1993, the Nimbin MardiGrass rally and festival has been held every year since, and they’ve vowed to carry on holding it every May until there is cannabis law reform.

nimbin mardigrass
By Mombas2 and Peter Terry (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Nimbin MardiGrass 2017

When?

MardiGrass is always held in the first weekend in May, this year (2017) that’s the 5th to 7th May.

How much?

  • For $150 you get entry into all the weekends events plus up to 3 nights camping at the Nimbin Showgrounds (top class camping, fireplaces, hot showers, Nevilles kitchen etc).
  • The $55 Golden Bud pass alone gives you entry into all MardiGrass events over the weekend but no campsite.

Email [email protected] for more information on transport options. You can also purchase all ticket types here.

nimbin mardigrass
By Mombas2 Peter Terry (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Accommodation

If you’re not buying a pass which includes camping then you can try to get accommodation in Nimbin itself, however this gets booked out extremely quickly so you can try to get accommodation in Byron Bay and then catch a bus to Nimbin. There is still availability (at the moment) at The Arts Factory Lodge over this weekend… book quickly to avoid disappointment.

Transport

If you’ve been unable to get accommodation in Nimbin, then there are plenty of transport options to get there if you don’t have your own car.

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