Five years ago, the Airlie Beach Festival of Music was nothing but a twinkle in its founder’s eye.
Music promoter Gavin “Butto” Butlin had always thought it was a good fit for the town but others before him had failed to make it work.
What started as his fledgling idea for a humble weekend of live music quickly became a concept both headline acts and local musicians were keen to embrace.
With 69 bands signed on the dotted line in 2013, Mr Butlin thought he had the magic number for success, but the Whitsundays’ tourism organisation of the day saw synergies with the region’s 74-island brand.
Fast-forward to 2017 and the Airlie Beach Festival of Music has become the biggest event on what was previously the quietest weekend of the year for the town.
Encompassing 74 bands across 18 venues, it’s a party in a tropical paradise like no other on earth.
From November 10-12 the town will be buzzing with the sound of music emanating from every venue on its picturesque main street.
World famous musicians like Leo Sayer, the Sex Pistols’ Glen Matlock, Kate Ceberano, Sneaky Sound System and bands featuring names like Brian Mannix, Kids in the Kitchen, The Screaming Jets and Rose Tattoo, are all set to take the stage beneath a big-top tent at the Whitsunday Sailing Club.
“There’s something for everyone. It’s just such a good mix,” Mr Butlin said.
Mr Butlin’s magic recipe hasn’t just been about the number of bands, where they play or even the calibre of headliners he now attracts.
“To me what makes the festival unique is having such a diverse range of bands, old and new,” he said.
“We book the old classic bands and the hit acts, but with sidelines like our national Battle of the Bands competition, we’re also bringing new, unheard of talent into town as well.
“And it’s just the vibe. There’s no festival venue in the world like ours.”
Festival co-ordinator Ellie Hanlon said the festival’s appeal was similar to that of Airlie Beach, in that it caters to a wide range of budgets and tastes.
“You can stay in a five-star resort or pitch a tent at the caravan park and cook baked beans. It’s one of the cheapest festivals going on ticket price but you can live it up according to your budget,” she said.
Festival tickets cost $260 for a three-day pass or $130 for a single day. For more information, visit airliebeach festivalofmusic.com.au.
TO be staged from Friday to Sunday, the annual Airlie Beach Festival of Music is set to feature much-loved favourites including The Chantoozies, Sneaky Sound System, Kate Ceberano and Shannon Noll.
And there’s no need to pack your camping chairs as seating is provided at all venues along with an array of options for food and drink.
You can let your hair down in the 18+ main tent while the little ones are at an organised children’s camp, or take them to one of the other venues where under-18s are welcome subject to normal licensing laws.
With the music acts spread over 18 venues little more than a kilometre apart, the atmosphere is electric.
This year’s Battle of the Bands final showdown is set to take centre stage at Magnums. Musicians from Adelaide to Cairns have been battling it out all year in their home towns for their chance to perform at the iconic Airlie festival.
Champions from 13 Australian regional towns have now scored their ‘Passport to Airlie’ and are getting pumped for the ultimate challenge that awaits them.
It will all come down to two days of performances, with the winner to be determined by a panel of three judges, who will decide the winner of the $1000 cash prize and a coveted spot on the 2018 festival line-up.
Music at festival venues will run prior to the main stage schedule, from 10am to 3pm on Friday and Saturday and 10am to 1pm on Sunday.
The main acts will headline at the Whitsunday Sailing Club big-top tent, with other venues to include Beaches, Anchor Bar, KC’s, Denman Cellars, Tree House Cafe, Sorrento Restaurant and Bar, La Marina, Hogs Breath Mantra Club Croc, Airlie Beach Shed Bar,
Fish D’vine Rum Bar, Capers, Cactus Jacks, Cafe One 3, Boaty’s, Mika and Magnums.
Source: Whitsunday Times.