The year’s biggest, rowdiest, most jam-packed country music festival is almost upon us – here’s all the info you’ll need to make the most of it.
Since its humble origins in 1972, the annual Tamworth Country Music Festival has grown into one of the biggest and more anticipated country music events in the entire world. It’s certainly Australia’s biggest celebration of the timeless music genre and its accompanying culture, drawing in tens of thousands of punters from all around the country – and the world – for ten days of yeeing and hawing in bountiful excess.
From the hundreds of free performances to the Golden Guitar Awards, a bevy of family-friendly activities, and more cultural gold than you could ever hope to mine, the Tamworth Country Music Festival is a dream come true for every cowboy, cowgirl and cowenby worth their Akubra. And this year’s edition is shaping up to be one of the all-time biggest, rowdiest and most jam-packed.
When it comes to planning your adventures, it can be tricky to know where to start – there are, after all, literally hundreds of things you can get up to at the 2024 Tamworth Country Music Festival. So we here at Countrytown have pored through the official guide, isolated the most essential bits of information, and laid them all out here in this handy page. Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about planning for the festival, getting around on the grounds, and making the most of your time there with a highlight reel of the key events.
Make sure to bookmark this page and keep it handy for the 2024 Tamworth Country Music Festival. We’ll see you there!
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As usual, this year’s Tamworth Country Music Festival will run over ten days, from Friday January 19 to Sunday January 28. It’s a free, ungated event held all throughout the titular town in north-west NSW, meaning you won’t need to worry about getting tickets to the festival itself (although some events are indeed ticketed – more on those below).
Most of the festivities will take place on the idyllic grounds of Tamworth’s Bicentennial Park, which for the duration of the Tamworth Country Music Festival, will be officially rebranded as Toyota Park. Every night from 7pm, free live entertainment will run on the titular Toyota Park Stage (you can look at this the festival’s “mainstage”). We’ve noted all the biggest events in a handy list below, but you can also head here for a comprehensive guide to everything going down on the Toyota Park Stage.
There’s also the Toyota FanZone Stage, where more than 150 artists will perform over the ten-day stretch. Some will also host signings and meet-and-greet events, and there will of course be a sprawling suite of merch to get your hands on. The Toyota FanZone is officially described as “a place to discover some of the biggest names in country music playing alongside some of the finest emerging talent” – you can find it in the heart of the Tamworth Country Music Festival, on the corner of Peel Street and Fitzroy Street, with entertainment running from 9am every morning.
Like we mentioned, the Tamworth Country Music Festival is a town-wide event, so virtually every venue in Tamworth will be hosting some kind of happening. These include hotels like The Pig & Tinder Box, The Tudor, The Post Office Hotel and The Pub, plus licensed clubs like West Diggers, the Tamworth Services Club and the Tamworth City Bowling Club. Even the town’s retail outlets, like the Centrepoint Arcade and Tamworth Square, will be hosting live entertainment.
Then there’s the roster of Tamworth Regional Council venues, like the Australian Equine And Livestock Events Centre, the Town Hall and Community Centre, the Tamworth Regional Entertainment and Conference Centre (TRECC), the Tamworth Regional Art Gallery, and the Capitol Theatre. Beyond these, too, you’ll be able to catch events at the Tamworth Showground, Bendemeer Hall, Butlers Auditorium, and dozens of other venues. Even the town’s train station will get in on the action, hosting the Platform Sessions program to spotlight this year’s Toyota Star Maker finalists.
For a full list of all the indoor and outdoor spaces hosting official Tamworth Country Music Festival events, head to this page.
Being a regional hotspot, most opt to make a road trip out of the trek to Tamworth, which sits some 405km north-west of Sydney or 280km north-west of Newcastle, and 570km south of Brisbane. For those who’d rather have the journey covered for them, there are daily train services running in and out of Tamworth from Sydney and Armidale, a range of options for coach tours, and daily flights running in and out of Tamworth Regional Airport.
If you choose to drive in, there will be long-stay parking areas on Peel Street (near the skate park) and Solander Drive (off Gipps Street from the Goonoo Goonoo Road intersection, alongside the Peel River), as well as short-term parking lots all throughout town; see here for a full list of where to find those.
Once you’ve settled in, you’ll have a breeze making your way around town – a bespoke express shuttle service has been set up specifically for the Tamworth Country Music Festival, travelling regularly across all the key locations (see here for the timetable). There is also the Festival Express bus, for which tickets will be available on the spot or at the TCMF ticket office (on the corner of Peel and Brisbane Streets); those run at $5 a day for adults and $2.50 for pensioners and seniors, with unlimited travel passes running at $40 for adults and $25 for pensioners and seniors.
All the major rideshare options will be available, however punters should be aware that many of Tamworth’s main roads will be closed for the duration of the festival. It might be easier to take a taxi – the Tamworth CBD’s taxi rank is located on Fitzroy Street, outside Peel House, just a short walk over from Tamworth Town Hall.
Accessibility is a core tenet of the Tamworth Country Music Festival, and this year it’ll be easier than ever for disabled and mobility-impaired concertgoers to enjoy the festivities.
The recommended mode of public transport is the Festival Express bus, which offers low-access wheelchair friendly entry. For those who drive in, there are accessible parking areas on virtually every road in Tamworth (however it’s important to note that there will be road closures on Fitzroy Street, Peel Street and Kable Avenue). Temporary loading zones will also be instated for visitors to drop passengers off, and for buskers and artists to unload equipment close to the town and its major venues.
Accessible restrooms will be available at the City Plaza, the Capitol Theatre, Bicentennial Park, The Atrium, Festival HQ, Tamworth Square, West Diggers and the Tamworth Regional Playground. There’s also the bespoke Changing Places facility at the centre of the festival in Bicentennial Park, which is designed specifically “to make visiting the CBD an easier and more enjoyable experience for disabled/elderly residents and their carers”.
Per the TCMF site, the dedicated facility “provides a purpose-built toilet and change facility, including ceiling track hoist, adult change table [and] shower, as well as nearby parking bays and transport infrastructure to assist with the loading and unloading of wheelchairs.” Punters can find the Changing Places facility near the No. 1 Cricket Oval, a short walk over from the Peel Street shops.
Some indoor venues – like the TRECC, Town Hall and Capitol Theatre – have designated accessible viewing areas. Disabled concertgoers are advised that accessible tickets are not available to purchase online, and will need to be obtained from their respective box offices. Companion cards will also be accepted on a show-by-show basis; we’d recommend reaching out to venues in advance to make sure (see here for a masterlist of Tamworth venue contact details).
To make it easier to navigate the festival grounds, organisers of the Tamworth Country Music Festival have whipped up a dedicated accessibility map, which even specifies how steep gradients are throughout the town. They’ve also offered up the overarching festival CBD map (here), and two maps to detail the town’s active entertainment venues (here for part one and here for part two).
This year’s Tamworth Country Music Festival boasts a nigh-on endless list of events, spanning hundreds upon hundreds of live performances, some of the year’s biggest country music awards ceremonies, a full program of cultural activities, family events, and more. A full list of events can be found here, but with dozens of events running every day from January 19-28, it’ll take you hours just to look through them all, let alone find the most essential picks. Here are some of the events we’re most looking forward to:
Heralded as the official launch of the Tamworth Country Music Festival, the Toyota Park Stage will burst to life at 7pm on Friday January 19, hosting a sprawling bill of Australia’s best up-and-comers. Those include some of the biggest names to emerge from last year’s TCMF, like Amber Lawrence (who was crowned Female Artist Of The Year at the 2023 Golden Guitars), Andrew Swift (Male Artist Of The Year), fellow Golden Guitar ‘23 winners Lyn Bowtell and Luke O’Shea, 2023 Toyota Star Maker Loren Ryan, 2023 Golden Gig winner Caitlyn Jamieson, and 2023 Busking Champion Lane Pittman.
The night will also feature a special performance from the newest graduates of the CMAA Academy of Country Music, a dazzling fireworks display, and to wrap it all up, a headlining performance from the one and only Sam McClymont.
This year marks the 44th annual Star Maker contest, dubbed “Australia’s most prestigious and longest running search for a new country music star”. It’s certainly no small feat to be honoured with the title, having launched the careers of such modern-day icons as Keith Urban, Lee Kernaghan, Beccy Cole and James Blundell, among many others.
The 2024 Grand Finals will kick off at 7pm on Saturday January 21, again taking place on the Toyota Park Stage. All ten finalists will perform – those being Dakota East, Ethan Calway, Felicity Dowd, Jay Santilli, Jake Whittaker, Jimbo Stokes, Jemma Beech, Nathan Lamont, Piper Rodrigues, and Wade Forster – and at the end of the night, one lucky artist will be officially named the 2024 Toyota Star Maker.
A trio of Star Maker alumni will also pop up to celebrate the festivities. Loren Ryan will perform to honour the whirlwind year she’s had since she was crowned the 2023 Star Maker, as well as her 2024 Golden Guitar nomination for New Talent Of The Year. 2004 Star Maker Travis Collins will also take the stage, commemorating 20 years since his breakout moment as well as his six nominations at this year’s Golden Guitars. And the official Tamworth Country Music Festival ambassador, 2022 Star Maker Max Jackson, will return to host the whole shebang.
For this year’s Tamworth Country Music Festival, the legendary Country Music Parade will return in a brand new format, which reps say will offer attendees “a unique opportunity to rub shoulders with their favorite country music stars in person”. Promised to be “an unforgettable day of music, excitement, and camaraderie”, the standout even will celebrate the best of the best in Australian country music – all the biggest names will be there, and of course we can expect some banging tunes to roar all throughout Tamworth.
This year’s parade will begin at 9am on Saturday January 27, starting northward on Peel Street and continuing along Fitzroy Street, before turning left onto Kable Avenue and concluding at the intersection of Kable Avenue and Hill Street. It’ll be free to attend and be a part of, and everyone is encouraged to get involved. So say the festival’s team themselves: “Whether you’re part of a community group, school, local business, dance school, or any special interest group, you’re invited to be a part of this amazing event. All you need to do is walk the 1.2km route and enjoy the experience with fellow music enthusiasts.”
This year’s Country Music Parade hosts a pretty broad theme – Australian + Country + Music – with participants “encouraged to get creative and showcase their love for the country music scene”. There will even be cash prizes on offer for the best entrants.
Arguably the Tamworth Country Music Festival’s “core event”, the annual Golden Guitar Awards – also known as the Country Music Awards of Australia – celebrate the biggest achievements of Australia’s most prized country stars, both established and emerging. Sold as “the pinnacle awards event for country music”, this year’s ceremony will go down at the TRECC venue on Saturday January 27. It’s one of the festival’s few ticketed events, and given how staunchly hyped it is every year, we’d recommend securing your spot ASAP.
Nominees for this years Golden Guitars were announced back in November of 2023, with acts like James Johnston, The Wolfe Brothers, Travis Collins, and the inimitable duo of Felicity Urquhart and Josh Cunningham up for the most awards.
More than just an awards show, the 2024 Golden Guitars will feature a suite of live performances; according to the team behind the event, we can expect “a fast-paced concert” and “a night of non-stop entertainment and special magic moments you won’t see any where else”. Hosting this year’s event will be Tania Kernaghan and Jason Owen.
Rounding out the 2024 Tamworth Country Music Festival, the top ten buskers that performed throughout the program – as chosen by a special team of judges, with each day seeing one new busker crowned the best – will battle it out to be named the 2024 Toyota Busking Champion. The celebratory event will kick off at the Toyota Park Stage from 7pm on Sunday January 28, and feature a special performance from 2023’s champion, Lane Pittman.