Get some country music in your summertime trip with a visit to Tamworth in January for the annual Tamworth Country Music Festival, from 14 to 23 January 2022! If you’ve been missing live music, festival atmosphere and fun in the sun, plan a stop at Tamworth for your next big trip.
The Tamworth Country Music Festival is Australia’s largest music festival and one of the top 10 in the world. The Festival and Awards are held at the beginning of the year to celebrate the accomplishments of the previous year, and the variety of country music on offer is endless, with over 700 performers across 120 different venues.
There is something for everyone, making it perfect for your next group 4WD escape or family camping getaway, with family events, parties and live music. With free shows every night in Toyota Park (Bicentennial Park) and the Toyota Country Music Fanzone stage in Fitzroy Street, to buskers, stalls, kids activities and street performances, there are also over 2800 ticketed shows in the pubs, clubs and hotels around Tamworth.
The highlight of the event is The Toyota Golden Guitars, the Country Music Awards of Australia, where Australian country music superstars gather with fans to see who will win the famous Golden Guitars. Held on the second Saturday of the festival at the Tamworth Regional Entertainment and Conference Centre, locally referred to as TRECC, this should not be missed.
What’s even better is that the 2022 Festival will be celebrating its 50th year! The event has launched the careers of artists such as Keith Urban, Kasey Chambers, Troy Cassar-Daley and Lee Kernaghan, with next year’s festival celebrating the past, present and future of the industry. Some of the big names are expected to take part so don’t miss out!
Tamworth is located 405km north-west of Sydney, 280km from Newcastle and 570km south of Brisbane, so depending on where you’re starting from, there are plenty of routes in. Tamworth itself is not usually affected by bushfires so it's also a safe region to visit in the middle of summer. To be on the safe side though, make sure you monitor fire conditions each day or download an app like Fires Near Me or Live Traffic to monitor it for you.
If you decide to take your camper up with you, there are two areas in Tamworth for long vehicles; Peel Street, located near the skate park, and Solander Drive off Gipps Street, from the Goonoo Goonoo Road intersection, alongside the Peel River. The city’s sports grounds are also converted into fully equipped campgrounds with access to toilets and hot showers, all close to the action. Maps to the festival can be found at tcmf.com.au when available.
Before you head on over, make sure you bring your hat and sunscreen! The middle of summer up there is blazing and you don’t want to ruin your trip with a painful sunburn. Take your fold out chair or a picnic blanket for the outdoor concerts to be more comfortable and, most importantly, make sure you have your licence on hand when drinking or even entering some premises.
This classic Aussie, country-feel festival draws crowds of up to 50,000 to the region each day, making that 300,000 over the 10 days and adding more than $50 million to the economy, a much-needed boost from last year’s, and regrettably, this year’s tourism decline.
The festival’s highlight, the Golden Guitars, is a fast-paced concert showcasing the best of Australia’s country music artists and the songs that have left their mark on fans over the last 12 months. The Awards began in 1973 when the radio station, 2TM launched the Australiasian Country Music Awards and Joy McKean received the first Golden Guitar for her song, Lights on the Hill, a song made popular by her husband, Slim Dusty. Over the nearly 50 years of the event, over 500 Golden Guitar trophies have now been handed out, with Slim Dusty himself winning 37 of them! This year marks the 50th year of the Awards which are Australia’s longest running music awards, playing a vital role in developing and promoting the nation’s country music talent.
Another tradition of the festival is the Queen of Country Music Quest. Established in 1984 as a promotional event for local businesses, this is now in its final year, so make sure you walk around and say hello to the entrants once announced for your chance to talk to the future Queen and Princess.
Don’t forget to check out the Australian Country Music Hall of Fame too, which displays memorabilia from the pioneers of country music to its current stars. It’s located in the interactive area of Walk a Country Mile which allows visitors to follow the growth of the genre, through artefacts, screenings of old concerts and photos, and is a great way to immerse yourself in your love of the genre.
If it’s anything like previous years, the Tamworth Country Music Festival will be full of buskers, line dancers and unforgettable live music experiences. With a mix of traditional, Americana, blues, roots, Alt-country, bluegrass, honky-tonk and so much more, you’re sure to walk away with a newfound love and appreciation of country music. With plenty of free outdoor concerts to experience, festival-goers will be able to party well into the night.
Don’t let the loud music and parties stop you though, as there’s plenty on offer for young families and four-wheel-drivers passing through. Parts of the city’s CBD are closed off, creating a pedestrian area filled with market stalls, food stands, buskers, street art and performers. There’s a family zone with carnival rides, show bags and games for both kids and big kids alike, plus a fan zone where you can get up close with musicians and artists.
Tamworth is not just known for its famous festival, though. There’s plenty to see in the outer regions. You will find Oxley Lookout up the top of town, and Lake Keepit and Chaffey Dam is only a short drive away. Along with Sheeba Dam, there’s also plenty of 4WD tracks to discover and explore in the state forest around Nundle and Hanging Rock, so the adventures are endless.
If that’s not your thing, want to get off your feet for a few hours and see the region from above? Take a scenic helicopter flight during the festival to experience the stunning views from the air.
HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED?
Have you ever dreamt of becoming a busker? This may be your chance to get up on stage shine! Make sure to head on over to the tcmf.com.au website for more information. Some of Australia’s biggest stars began busking, such as Kasey Chambers, Beccy Cole and of course, Keith Urban.
Many campers and long-term travellers are business owners so why not take up the opportunity to expose your business, products or services and become actively involved in the Festival’s Cavalcade? You can also operate a stall, have a display or provide entertainment in the road closure area by completing the application form. Some fees apply.
WHAT TO DO NOW?
If you want to see if your favourite artist is performing, make sure to check out the Tickets page on the official website in the lead up to and during the festival. The first round of tickets go on sale online from 1 August.
Pre-orders for the 2022 Official Guide to the Toyota Country Music Festival go on sale in mid to late 2021, which is a definitive guide featuring the Official Program and an exclusive A to Z Directory.
If you’re looking for your next big getaway filled with events and fun for the whole family, Tamworth is a great place to start your year off with a bang.