Tamworth Country Music Festival kicks off

More than 300,000 punters are set to descend on Tamworth across the 10 days of the festival.
More than 300,000 punters are set to descend on Tamworth across the 10 days of the festival.

Country megastar Troy Cassar-Daley still remembers the drive to Tamworth Country Music Festival as a child and credits it as the place he found "his people".

"It really is about finding your people, your tribe," he told AAP.

"When I came as a kid, I found all these people that loved country music just as much as I did. It still feels like that."

Cassar-Daley, who has one 33 Golden Guitars, has one official gig planned on January 24 but says he will take an amp and wander around the town, popping up and playing with friends, as well as checking out the new acts.

"The camaraderie is fair dinkum. As one of the older artists, it's important to do it. That's what makes it special," he said.

More than 300,000 punters are set to descend on Tamworth across the 10 days of the festival, which starts on Friday.

Hours inland from the coast, Tamworth is a regularly hot destination but NSW's heatwave has pushed the mercury up to 40C for Friday and Saturday.

Festival manager Barry Harley said country fans need to make sure they stay hydrated, keep in the shade and take care of each other in the high temperatures.

He said there was plenty of air-conditioned venues, water refill stations and night time entertainment for people to enjoy buskers away from the heat.

With nearly 700 artists and 2000 events, Mr Harley said there was no shortage for things to do.

"Take it off your bucket list and come along," he told AAP.

This year marks the 40th year of the Toyota Star Maker Award where Australia's top emerging country artists compete. It has helped launch the career of stars such as Keith Urban, Lee Kernaghan, Beccy Cole and more.

For Amber Lawrence, co-host of this year's Golden Guitar Awards, her advice to young country artists is to enjoy it but to remember to work hard.

"When I first came to the festival in 2004, I didn't plan any further than a week," she joked to AAP.

"If you keep resetting your goals, who knows, you could be co-hosting the Golden Guitars in less than the 15 years it took me."

Lawrence is looking forward to not only co-hosting the Golden Guitars with fellow musician Adam Brand but also playing new music on stage after taking a break to become a mum.

"It's a big night for our industry. The standard is so high in country music in Australia, it's inspiring," she told AAP.

The festival runs from January 18 to January 27, with the Golden Guitars taking place on Australia Day.

Australian Associated Press