We’ve found the perfect winter festival for music lovers

Imagine a killer music festival with an a-class lineup, set in a gorgeous hinterland town just 30 minutes from Coffs Harbour. Srsly, if that doesn’t scream ROAD TRIP, then nothing will.

Bello Winter Music Festival runs over three days right on the crystal clear waters of Bellingen River. And like its spring sister Mullum Music Festival, Bello is loved by musicians and punters alike for its impeccable programming. There’s a mix of international, national and local acts, a focus on youth mentorship and gigs set for existing venues through the town.

Justin Townes Earle (pictured), Lior, Deborah Conway, Caiti Baker, William Crighton, Thando, Z-Star Trinity, and Dustyesky lead the lineup for this year’s event. With Maddy Jane, Hot Potato Band, Perch Creek, Cheap Fakes also scoring sets in a bill that includes more than 70 acts.

From 12 – 15 July, the town of Bellingen will come alive with live music and a friendly, inclusive community atmosphere. It’s little wonder that the event has been so wholeheartedly embraced by music lovers of all persuasions as well as musicians who rave about the laid-back, mountain vibes.

Scoping the program in more depth reveals The Northern Folk, a 10-piece folk band with a big brass section as well as Dave Dondero – named one of the world’s top living songwriters by US National Public Radio. There’s eight-piece China Beach, a garage disco, freaky funk band and there’s Astro Travellers whose live shows are completely off the hook. Ten-piece The Morrisons deliver bluegrass and Masco Sound System bring analogue dance music to the party.

“We love that in one venue there can be three singers huddled around one mic singing gorgeous harmonies to an entranced crowd, and a venue up the road is absolutely thumping to an eight-piece dub band,” says festival programmer Kate Atkinson.

One festival wristband gets you into each venue across the town with each performance promising to be intimate enough that you get to hear and see everything from the comfort of an actual seat. Unless you want to dance, in which case there’ll be space for that too. Each venue has its own bar (no tickets required here), there’s a bunch of proper loos and there’s much more than music on offer.

Bellingen itself is a bucket-list destination for many east coast roadtrippers. It’s a creative and alternative village, just a short drive from the beach towns of Coffs Harbor surrounded by farmland and old-growth rainforest.

And just like the town itself, Bello Winter Festival offers a quirky mix of programming for punters. There’s a heap of free street theatre and workshops as well as pop-up performances and an entire sustainability-focused mini festival called Bello Leaf where you can join guided rainforest walks, learn primitive fire-making and listen to a bunch of talks. Plus there’s an arts and craft marketing in the centre of town and a New Orleans style musical street parade through the town on Sunday.

If it sounds like we’re frothing over Bello Winter Festival, it’s for good reason.  You will be too.

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Bello Winter Festival is 12 – 15 July in Bellingen, NSW. Tickets at bellowintermusic.com.

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