Published on May 8th, 2012 | by Adrian Simpson0
MardiGrass – The most laid back festival in the world!
Mardi Gras is often a colourful occasion. But throw in thousands of people openly smoking a huge amount of marijuana and you have the MardiGrass Festival, a very colourful occasion indeed.
Completely unrelated to Mardi Gras, MardiGrass takes place every May Day weekend in the remote Australian hippie village of Nimbin, having started in the early 1990s as a public rally by cannabis legalisation campaigners to protest for change to the drug laws.
10,000 Peace-Loving Hippies
A protest event to many, a chance to simply smoke week outside for others, the small mountain village in New South Wales sees its population swell during the weekend festival as more than 10,000 peace-loving, dope-toking hippies, wannabe hippies and posh backpackers roll up to roll up. Throw in market stalls, live music, a VW van parade, joint rolling competitions, and not to mention hordes of police, and you have one wild weekend.
This year sees the event, officially known as the Cannabis Law Reform Rally, celebrate its 20th anniversary, and while revellers may not be much closer to their stated aim of securing legal status for marijuana, they sure are determined to have fun trying.
The tropical mountain village of Nimbin is a pretty laid back place most of the time anyway. Known as the cannabis capital of Australia, it is said the alternative community grew when people simply didn’t go home after the 1973 Aquarius Festival. Despite the drug being illegal, tolerance from the police and a lack of interference from authorities has seen the village thrive as a ganja growing hotbed. Frequented by backpackers, a cannabis tourism industry has grown with passers-by being able to visit a marijuana museum and buy hash cookies from friendly old ladies on street corners. Almost inevitably there is a sinister underbelly to the place, shady characters in darkened corners preying on tourists lured in by the pretence of a free-loving utopia.
But the freedom and peace ethos still presides over MardiGrass, with organisers pleading with those attending to avoid confrontation with police, urging them not to trespass on the police station land or ‘blow smoke in any police faces.’ Policing of the event has seemingly become less aggressive in recent years too, with the the force agreeing to leave the sniffer dogs in their kennels this time around, although pressure form local authorities for organisers to meet a variety of box-ticking criteria had threatened the spontaneous nature of the event, but it is set to go ahead as planned this May and looks set to be bigger than ever.
The march itself leaves from outside the police station and ends up in the hippie haven of Peace Park, where all sorts of fun and frolics ensues. And who says hippies don’t have a competitive streak to them? The Cannabis Cup is a hotly contested title, where a secret meeting takes place to judge the quality of the weed grown in the area, while the HEMP Olympix in the park will see people competing in spaced out events ranging from bong throwing to rolling joints in the dark. Forget London 2012, Nimbin is where the real sporting prowess will be on display this year.