Who said you can’t have your fruit and eat it too? Tropical Fruits is celebrating its 22nd year this New Year’s Eve – the getaway where you can party in the hay with the best entertainment in the country.

Affectionately known by its dedicated ‘fairies’ as ‘Fruits’, the annual party is more than a one night stand, it’s the festival that keeps on giving.

Running over three fibre-packed days, it  includes the signature party, pool party at the Lismore Baths, the recovery party, art exhibition and film festival.

Tropical Fruits production assistant Thomas Churchyard and events co-ordinator Marie Riley said it is the unique “community vibe” and “grass roots support” that drives the party.

“We are based out here in the country, the magical northern rivers, and it’s very different from the cities,” Churchyard told the Star Observer.

“We don’t have big nightclubs so it’s up to us to create a place where we can all get together.

Riley, who has been involved with the festival for five years, effuses praise for the festival.

“Our motto is fun, safe and inclusive. It’s about heading out on the road to Lismore and stepping out into this magical fantasy world where you can find your country family,” she said.

Staged at Lismore Showground, both the New Year’s Eve and Recovery parties draw hundreds of campers from around the country for the big event.

“The real secret of Fruits is the volunteers. We have 300 people who put it together and they are their own amazing little tribe. For them it’s about meeting friends and constantly laughing,” Churchyard said.

“We are like a bunch of kids going at it, partying our asses off and meeting amazing people,” Riley added, “that’s why people come time and time again.”

It’s no accident the festival attracts thousands of party goers. Only a quick drive from Byron Bay’s famous beaches, Lismore is an idyllic escape. Surrounded by rainforests, plantations, open fields, rustic general stores and historic country homesteads, it’s more intoxicating than Nana’s rum trifle.

Riley said visitors to the region tend to include the party as part of a Lismore holiday.

“What I find is that they look at not just the party but the entire escape. It’s more than a party – it’s a total country getaway with beaches, rainforest, country air and of course the fantastic parties,” she said.

This year’s theme is gold, and the party will be showcasing some of the most popular DJs in the country, including Seymour Butz, Sveta, Murray Hood, Kimo, Kitty Glitter and Lady K to name a few.

Having hypnotised the crowd at this year’s pool party, Lady K will be one of the night’s star attractions.

“Fruits is incredible,” she tells me over the phone while fixing her dishwasher.

“It’s like stepping into another world. The party comes alive from dusty country to a venue with lashings of glitter and glamour, whopping dance music and out-there performances.”

Lady K says her first experience of the Northern Rivers six years ago was like “falling down the rabbit hole”, and she’s ready to let her tunes drop again.

“Because Fruits is about family and unity, I’ll be playing a lot of fun vocal house-tunes,” she said.

“You’ll hear big builds and infectious drops from the second hour onward and by my last hour even bigger vocal and melodic house to match what Kitty (Glitter) will play for us through the New Year.”

Fresh back from her New York and Toronto for Pride debuts, international DJ Kitty Glitter plans on delivering her own feline flavour to the fruit bowl.

“I will be pulling out all the favorites from over the years — I think its important to get retrospective as people appreciate seeing in a new year with much loved classics.”

Glitter, who was first head-hunted by the Tropical Fruits fairies three years ago, keeps the event as a permanent fixture in her diary.

“I had heard about Tropical Fruits for many years before I was finally contacted to play, and of course I jumped at the chance,” she said.

“Tropical Fruits, for me, is special because it’s unlike all other parties I play. Being removed from the city allows everyone to surrender to the party, 100  percent.”

info: For more on this year’s Tropical Fruits festival visit www.tropicalfruits.org.au

– TEDDY ROSE

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