A celebration of Australian country music
Work some country music into a 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 atmospheres and fun in the sun, earmark Tamworth for your next 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 venues.
For travelling nomads, the festival — along with its jam-packed events calendar with Australia’s biggest country music stars — is a perfect bucket-list activity this coming summer. Add to that Tamworth’s classic country charm, and it’s no wonder that wanderers from every corner of the country make the annual pilgrimage to north-west New South Wales.
There are free shows every night in Bicentennial Park and the Toyota Country Music Fanzone stage in Fitzroy Street, along with buskers, stalls, activities for kids, and street performances, as well as over 2800 ticketed shows in the pubs, clubs, and hotels around Tamworth.
The event has launched the careers of artists such as Keith Urban, Kasey Chambers, Troy Cassar-Daley and Lee Kernaghan. The 2022 Festival, which will mark the 50th year of the event, is set to celebrate the past, present and future of the industry. Some of the biggest names are expected to take part, so don’t miss out!
GETTING TO THE FESTIVAL
Tamworth is located 405km north-west of Sydney, 280km from Newcastle, and 570km south of Brisbane — so depending where you’re starting from, there are plenty of routes to take. Tamworth itself is not usually affected by bushfires, making it a safe region to visit in the midst of summer. To be on the safe side though, monitor fire conditions each day or download an app such as Fires Near Me or Live Traffic to keep you updated.
The event is a favourite of RV travellers and campers alike, and those experienced in festivals know the best time to arrive in the city is a week or so before the event begins. If taking your RV with you, there are two areas in Tamworth for long vehicles — Peel Street and Solander Drive, both within close proximity to Peel River. The city’s sports precinct offers hot showers and all the essentials. Maps to the festival can be found at tcmf.com.au, and will be available closer to the date.
Before you head on over, make sure you’ve packed a hat and sunscreen! The middle of summer up there is blazing, and a painful sunburn can be the bane of a trip. Taking fold-out chairs or picnic blankets for the outdoor concerts can ensure a little more comfort and, most importantly, make sure you have your licence on hand when drinking or even entering some premises.
WHAT TO DO?
This classic country-feel festival usually draws crowds of up to 50,000 to the region each day, making that 300,000 over the entirety of the 10-day festival and adding more than $50 million to the economy — a much-needed boost to the regrettable decline in tourism throughout 2020 and 2021.
The highlight of the event is The Toyota Golden Guitars — also known as the Country Music Awards of Australia — where Australian country music superstars gather alongside 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 is the must-see event. Over almost five decades of the Awards, over 500 Golden Guitar trophies have been handed out — with Slim Dusty himself nabbing 37 of them.
Don’t forget to check out the Australian Country Music Hall of Fame, which displays memorabilia from the pioneers of country music to current stars. Located in the interactive area of Walk a Country Mile, it allows visitors to follow the growth of the genre through artefacts, screenings of old concerts, and photographs, and is a great way to immerse yourself in your love of the genre.
Tamworth Country Music Festival is always full of buskers, line dancers and unforgettable live music experiences. With a mix of traditional, Americana, blues, roots, alt-country, and bluegrass to name a few, you’re sure to walk away with a newfound love and appreciation for country music.
Don’t let the loud music and parties deter you though, as there’s plenty on offer for quieter types passing through. Parts of the city’s CBD will be closed off, creating a pedestrian area filled with market stalls, food stands, street art, and performers. There’s a family zone with carnival rides, showbags and games for both little kids and big kids alike, plus a fan zone where you can get up close with musicians and artists. As events across the 10 days start in the early morning and finish late at night, there will be something on regardless of when you hop out of bed.
Tamworth is not just known for its famous festival though — there’s plenty to see in terms of natural wonders. Oxley Lookout in Tamworth is well worth a visit, and Lake Keepit and Chaffey Dam are only a short drive away. Along with Sheba Dam, there’s also plenty of tracks to discover and explore in the state forest around Nundle and Hanging Rock.
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.
BOOK FAST SO YOU DON'T MISS OUT
Caravan sites can book out fast, so make sure you get in quick at tcmf.com.au to secure your spot. The first round of tickets for shows are already on sale and more will be announced later in 2021. Remember though, the Tamworth Country Music Festival has plenty of free entertainment and things to do, you’ve just got to make sure you get to Tamworth in January!
Pre-orders for the 2022 Official Guide to the Toyota Country Music Festival go on sale in mid to late 2021. It’s the definitive guide to the thousands of shows and hundreds of artists over the 10 days of the festival. If you want to check whether your favourite artist is performing, make sure to keep an eye on the ticketing page on the official website in the lead up to the Festival. The first round of tickets will be on sale online from 1 August 2021.
The Festival is a brilliant way to push aside the last couple of years of next to no travel, and a great way to relax and have fun while getting back into the groove. It’s time to start planning for your next big getaway, filled with events and fun for your whole family, so start packing and join the thousands of country music lovers who will also be making their way to the festival! Tamworth is a great place to start your year off with a bang.