Eight phenomenal music and arts festivals to kick-start 2020

Australia has one of the most diverse music festival and event calendars anywhere in the world. Across the country, in major capital cities and remote regional centres, homegrown and international talent packs festival stages to a rapturous reception from music lovers of all ages. Whatever floats your musical boat, from electronica to folk and everything in between, here’s a selection of amazing music and arts festivals that are guaranteed to get 2020 off to a thumping start. Book your stay for each of these events at ChoiceHotels.com.

Red Hot Summer Tour: 4 January to 26 April, various cities

Consider the Red Hot Summer Tour, a nationwide, four month festival that celebrates everything that’s great about classic Aussie rock. The tour’s 10th anniversary series of live shows in early 2020 is going to be absolutely massive. There are dates scheduled in Queensland, Western Australia, the NT, South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales. The event will see ARIA Hall of Fame inductees Hunters and Collectors reunite to headline the tour, bringing James Reyne, The Living End, The Angels, Baby Animals, Killing Heidi and Boom Crash Opera along for the wild ride. Several dates are sold out, so jump on this one now.

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FOMO Festival: 4 to 15 January, various cities

FOMO likes to keep things simple: one day; one stage; a broad musical remit that packs plenty of variety; and everyone playing together super nicely. Festival goers in Brisbane, Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Auckland are in for a multi-genre mash-up of local and international artists, and a relaxed and enjoyable festival experience. Highlights of the 2020 line-up include US six-piece rap collective/self-titled boy band Brockhampton and American singer and rapper Lizzo, who’s just been nominated for no less than six Grammys.

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music and arts festivals
Image courtesy of Tamworth Country Music Festival

Tamworth Country Music Festival: 17 to 26 January, Tamworth

The world’s second largest country music festival (after Nashville in the USA) takes over the regional New South Wales city of Tamworth for ten thigh-slapping, ten-gallon-hat-tipping days of rhinestone encrusted fun in January. To say the Tamworth Country Music Festival is big is an understatement. It’s huge. Think 700 performers and around 300,000 fans. The event culminates in the prestigious Golden Guitar Awards ceremony. The great thing about Tamworth is that it’s accessible to all. While there are high profile ticketed events that cost big bucks, equally, there are hundreds of free gigs across some 120 venues.

Need a place to stay?

Choice Hotels has two amazing Tamworth hotels to choose from. Located right in the heart of the CBD, a stay at the luxurious CH Boutique Hotel, Ascend Hotel Collection, will make your time in Tamworth truly memorable. Enjoy dinner in the Art Deco surroundings at Deco wine bar and restaurant during your stay.

Just five minutes’ drive west of the city centre, Quality Inn Ashby House Tamworth melds heritage charm with modern convenience. Choose from a wide variety of room types, including terrace suites, premier and deluxe rooms, a family suite, and a self-contained apartment.

Music on the Murray: Various dates, Wahgunyah

Aussie celebrations of great music come in all shapes and sizes – and in some absolutely stunning locations. St Leonards Vineyard, which sits by the mighty Murray River at Wahgunyah – 30 minutes’ drive north of Wangaratta – is a case in point. In early 2020, the vineyard will stage Music on the Murray – a series of relaxed musical events, accompanied by top local drops and gourmet bites. Kick back on the lawned area and enjoy the tunes from a diverse line-up of local performers over several dates

Need a place to stay?

Quality Hotel Wangaratta Gateway is your home away from home in north-eastern Victoria, and a lovely hotel to come home to at the end of the day. The property features a range of fabulously stylish room types, several with marble bathrooms.

music and arts festivals
Cygnet Folk Festival. Image courtesy of Tourism Tasmania and Steven Pearce Photography

Cygnet Folk Festival: 10 to 12 January, Cygnet

Cygnet may be a small place, but it packs a serious punch as the home of one of Australia’s best-loved music and arts festivals. Located just 50 minutes’ drive south of Hobart, the Huon Valley town artfully mixes mainstream with an alternative twist at the Cygnet Folk Festival. This festival is very highly regarded by performers – both local and international – so you can be sure there will be an amazing line-up. Such are the good community vibes swirling around this event, that the locals billet many of the performers in their homes. The programme also encompasses performance art, poetry, dance, film and much more.

Need a place to stay?

If you are flying into Hobart and spending a night before heading down to Cygnet, Comfort Hotel Foreshore makes a great accommodation option. The hotel is located on Hobart’s magnificent Eastern Shore, just a 15-minute drive from both the CBD and the airport. The hotel offers contemporary room styles and excellent amenities – including a family bistro.

music and arts festivals
Mona Foma. Image courtesy of Tourism Tasmania and Jarrad Seng

Mona Foma: 11 to 20 January, Launceston

Up the Midlands Highway in Launceston, early 2020 will see the city host the second of its three confirmed Mona Foma summer arts festivals. Government funding helped seal the deal to bring the high-profile event to Lonnie. Twenty-five venues across the heritage city, including the Queen Victoria Museum and Gallery, Cataract Gorge, and the Tamar River waterfront will host an array of local and international acts. This is MONA’s baby, so expect plenty of diversity and some classy craziness.

Need a place to stay?

Walk to many festival events from Quality Hotel Colonial Launceston, which enjoys a heritage setting on the southern edge of the CBD, just a short walk from Prince’s Square. The hotel couples modern facilities with old-world class, character and charm.

Further south, the distinctive Tudor-style Comfort Hotel Olde Tudor offers a whole suite of amenities – comfortably furnished rooms, a pool and spa, family bistro with kids play area, a sports bar, gaming room, bottle shop, and an adjoining shopping precinct.

music and arts festivals
Fringe World, Perth. Image courtesy of Tourism Western Australia

Fringe World: 17 January to 16 February, Perth

Perth’s Fringe World has enjoyed meteoric growth over the past decade and is now recognised as the world’s third largest multi-arts fringe event, behind big daddy Edinburgh and the Adelaide Fringe. Like Edinburgh and Adelaide, Perth is an open-access festival. That means that anyone with a show can register and perform. Getting an audience? Well that’s another matter! There are around 700 events scheduled, at more than 150 venues, so the competition is pretty fierce. However, Fringe World is an amazing platform for local performers, which make up around 75 per cent of the acts on stage.

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About the writer

Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. He has previously had the opportunity to travel the world as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. 

Cover image courtesy of Tamworth Country Music Festival

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