WHERE in Australia can you see 74 bands for the princely sum of about $3 each? The answer is Airlie Beach, where the annual Festival of Music from November 10-12 will feature international, national and emerging acts.
Big names like Leo Sayer, Glen Matlock (The Sex Pistols), The Baby Animals, Sneaky Sound System, Kate Ceberano and Shannon Noll will mix it up with other crowd favourites in the festival’s waterfront main marquee.
Meanwhile popular acts like 8 Ball Aitken and The Hillbilly Goats will play the additional 17 venues from the outskirts of Cannonvale to downtown Airlie Beach. Passes are required to enter any of the festival’s ticketed venues but to get the best value for money you need to be quick.
Early bird specials on one and three-day passes close on October 1, with tickets costing $245 for the full three days and $130 for a single day until that date. Festival founder Gavin Butlin said this was a price that was too good to miss. “We’re pretty much one of the cheapest festivals in Australia - it works out at about $3 a band,” he said. “Let’s just say you went to Brisbane and you saw the Baby Animals on Friday night, Leo Sayer on Saturday and Glen Matlock from the Sex Pistols on Sunday, you’d probably spend hundreds of dollars in tickets just to see those three, let alone the other 71 bands.
“Plus you get a Thursday night jam session in the three-day ticket price – and that’s a great night.” For people travelling from across Australia to be at the event, Mr Butlin had another important message. “There is still plenty of accommodation in the Whitsundays to choose from,” he said. “A lot of the local accommodation houses are telling me they’ve taken their listings off wotif and bookings.com for that weekend so people are going online and thinking there’s nothing available – but we’ve got packages – people have just got to go to our website and check it out.”
One of the festival’s accommodation partners is the newly refurbished Mantra Club Croc on the edge of Airlie Beach. Here, general manager Luke Harley says one third of the hotel’s rooms have already been reserved for the festival’s all-inclusive package deals. “But you have to book through the Airlie Beach Festival of Music website not by direct contact with the hotel,” Mr Harley said, adding, “we’re going to have music and we’ll be doing transfers from the hotel as well, so we’re not just a bed and breakfast but an atmospheric location for the event”.
Jeff Aquilina from Airlie’s atHotel group stressed this was an opportunity for visitors to experience both a premier destination and major event. “We’ve been proud partners of the festival since its inception,” he said. “Our Waters Edge Resort in particular tends to host a good chunk of the visiting acts. And from our perspective the Airlie Beach Festival of Music is one of the key major events in Airlie Beach. “It’s a fantastic weekend for the town – there’s a real buzz in the air. “Over the last two years we’ve seen greater visitation from outside the region, which is obviously great for Queensland and great for GDP. “These people tend to stay and make a bit more of a holiday of it. “Certainly the demand is greater than normal for accommodation during that weekend but we still have rooms available right from our Whitsunday Vista lead-in four star property to our flagship resort Marina Shores.”