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Lifestyle : NSW Tourism Awards 2011
1HERSA1 0005 Ibis Sydney Darling Harbour is proud to be a finalist in the 2011 NSW Tourism Awards. Located in the heart of Darling Harbour, Ibis provides you with the perfect vantage point to experience Sydney's greatest shopping, entertainment and restaurants. Save on price, not on service. IBIS SYDNEY DARLING HARBOUR. 70 Murray Street, Pyrmont, Sydney NSW 2000. Email. firstname.lastname@example.org Reservations. 02 9934 0000 THERE WILL ALWAYS BE SOMEONE TO TAKE CARE OF YOU IBIS SYDNEY DARLING HARBOUR FINALIST IN THE 2011 NSW TOURISM AWARDS Kombis, caves and caravans From iconic cars to legendary stars, across the state there's a festival to celebrate it, writes Julietta Jameson. State of play . . . from above, the Old Bar Beach Festival; the Hunter Valley's Christmas Lights Spectacular. ALL across NSW, folks love a good festival. It's the getting out in the sunshine, or under the stars, or into beautiful spaces perhaps not usually given over to public gatherings. And it's getting out with others, en masse, and being merrily distracted from everyday life. But it's also about loving a fine show of hospitality and accepting the invitation to someone else's patch to stay and play a while. From Sydney's inner city to outback Broken Hill, communities rally together to put on celebrations of anything and everything -- cars, coffee, Christmas, country music, caravans -- with a menu of culture, food, arts and activities that is carefully organised to best showcase the theme, place or anniversary. While the first-glance function of a festival is fun and entertainment, there are amazing far-reaching benefits, not just for the towns or even the patrons who come from elsewhere but also for the wider community. A great example is the Deniliquin Ute Muster and Play on the Plains Festival. During festival time (late September to early October), the town's population of 8000 swells to more than 20,000. According to organisers, last year the festival injected $13 million into the Deniliquin economy and provided an additional $3 million boost to state coffers. It also resulted in more than $100,000 being donated to Deniliquin community service groups and sporting clubs for their help in running the event. Of course, record-breaking numbers of utes and blue singlets in the one place and top-line music acts are the drawcards that make all that possible. ''The Deniliquin Ute Muster is the only one of its kind, celebrating all things Australian and the icon of the ute,'' marketing manager Liz Mecham says. ''It can't be pigeonholed as a particular type of event -- it's part-ute show, part- music festival, part-rodeo, part- family festival, part-rural exhibition. The appeal is broad.'' There are more specifically targeted events, such as April's NSW Caravan, Camping, RV and Holiday Supershow at Rosehill Racecourse. The CountryLink Parkes Elvis Festival, or ''schoolies for oldies'' as it's also lovingly known, has a unique focus but of a different nature. ''Locals Bob and Anne Steel are massive Elvis fans, so when they bought a function centre in Parkes they gave it the name Graceland,'' says the manager of the festival, Maria Chetcuti. ''It was in 1992, after a party at Graceland and over a glass of wine, that locals developed the idea and the Parkes Elvis Festival was conceived.'' With the event celebrating its 20th anniversary next January, its popularity is testimony to the quirky brilliance of that idea. ''The typical festivalgoer is a 45-plus Elvis fan,'' Chetcuti says. ''That's why the CountryLink Parkes Elvis Festival has been described as 'schoolies for oldies'. However, a huge range of people -- from gawkers to grey nomads -- attend and with over 150 events across five days, [it] has something to suit everyone. ''But the spirit, camaraderie and friendliness of festivalgoers and the Parkes Shire community are among the top reasons people give for attending and enjoying the festival.'' Christmas is an obvious time for a festival-style event and Carols in the Caves at Jenolan Caves, in its 20th year, is a pair of concerts that always features top-notch performers, state-of-the-art production and a unique venue. ''We are certainly the only place in Australia to have such an extravagant Christmas spectacular in a cave where the spectacular backdrop is created by mother nature's auditorium,'' says the manager of Jenolan events, Domino Houlbrook-Cove. At the Christmas Lights Spectacular in the Hunter Valley Gardens at Pokolbin, more than 1 million lights artfully designed into seasonal displays are the main attraction. But like all good festivals, there's also food, wine, children's activities and music. Like Christmas, public holidays and long weekends are prime times for festivals. The Old Bar Beach Festival, held on the October long weekend, celebrates coastal culture in an unspoilt pocket of NSW beach. Food, drink, kids' activities, buskers and that stalwart of Aussie coastal life, the Kombi, are all part of what really is the little red engine that could of NSW festivals. The president of the multi-award- winning event, Cozette Leonard, says: ''Those two words, 'community-run', provide the reason for its success. The festival is managed and run by a dedicated group of nearly 200 volunteers. ''In the last seven years, the festival has grown from a local event to being one of largest and most successful events on the mid-north coast through the hard work, passion and commitment of its volunteer base.'' Many great festivals have started that way -- as a local event put on for a specific group -- and become something with wide appeal. travel nsw tourism awards THE SUN-HERALD SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2011 5 Got the blues I have had a panel van buried so deep in mud that it had to be dragged out of the paddock by a tractor; I have schlepped through countless quagmires in the belief that the Georgia jug band or Guatemalan gourd players will be worth it; and I have been so disappointed in Bob Dylan that I actually walked out of a dry tent and back into the rain just to get away from him. But do I have any regrets about going to Bluesfest? None at all. Despite the fact that Easter on the north coast of NSW can be a bit on the damp side, Bluesfest, winner of Major Festivals and Events, has shone ever brighter since 1990, when it began life as the East Coast Blues Festival at Byron Bay's Arts Factory, with Charlie Musselwhite and Canned Heat headlining a line-up of a dozen or so performers. A few name and location changes later, the festival has five stages and a reputation that attracts legends. Alongside Dylan last year were BB King, Elvis Costello and Grace Jones. This year Roger Daltrey, the Pogues and Steve Earle are lined up, with an array of blues and roots artisans from the well-known to the obscure. Just like at most festivals, there will be the opportunity to spend a small fortune on food, beer, foot massages and mementos. But most of all, it will be about the music. And the mud, most likely. Simon Webster Bluesfest, April 5-9, 2012. Tickets from $119. bluesfest.com.au. special report
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