Australia’s Summer Sounds Festival got underway last week with its COVID-19-safe pods and other protocols in place following a delay.

The Adelaide festival, which kicked off on Friday and will run to January 31 and is the first major festival to be held in the city since the pandemic began last year, has introduced ‘pods’ of between four and six people for concertgoers, while also using golf buggies for delivering drinks ordered on an app.

Organisers said the set-up has been inspired by The Virgin Money Unity Arena in Newcastle, which was the UK’s first purpose-built socially distanced venue opened in August.

Event director Daniel Michael said, according to ABC News, the idea was based on the venue’s so-called “pig pens”.

He said: “Heaps of people sent me photos of something that was happening in Newcastle in the UK and I thought we’d never do that, it’d cost too much, there’s no way. Then we were like, actually, we can probably do it and make it work like this… we can make this happen.”

Up to 2,000 music fans will attend the concerts each night spread across 10,000 square metres, with Michael stating: “It’s basically 2,000 VIPs.”

Tickets have been sold in groups of four or six, and then those people have to stay within their pod for the duration of the concert.

Summer Sounds has also allocated each ticketholder a 15-minute window to arrive to avoid queues developing, and will be issued a wristband with their pod number, so every person at the event will be traceable.

The festival was originally set to start on December 30, but was delayed until January 8 because of travel restrictions between New South Wales and South Australia, in response to Sydney’s coronavirus outbreaks.

After months of negotiations with SA Health, organisers of the Summer Sounds Festival were granted permission to stage the three-week event in Bonython Park.

“Summer Sounds Festival’s organisers have worked closely with SA Health to ensure a safe series of events and most recently to work through issues created by the current border restrictions. This dialogue with SA Health will continue throughout the series,” a festival spokesperson said.

“While there will be a few changes to the lineup, the organisers are relieved to have received the green light to proceed with the series.”

Headline act Bernard Fanning has been granted an SA Health exemption to travel from Byron Bay for the festival, as South Australia currently has a hard border closure with New South Wales. Other acts include pop-quartet Cub Sport and bubble-gum rap star Mallrat, as well as local heroes, like Teenage Joans and Groove Terminator.

Image: Summer Sounds