Neck of the Woods keeps it neighbourly

A family rolls in early for Neck of the Woods 2021. IMAGE: Supplied

Locally grown music festival Neck of the Woods is back in Townsville’s neck of the woods!

Festival creator and organiser, Nicole Cross, says a major point of difference for the day-long music fest is its family friendly environment.

“We’re all about making music accessible to everyone and a lot of people tell us that it’s their kids’ first music festival which is really nice,” says Nicole.

“People bring their little babies with earmuffs and there are certainly always some grandparents.

“A lot of touring acts that come through town… they’re only playing at 18+ venues, so to be able to open it up to everyone and not just have an 18+ audience is really important to us because live music should be accessible to everyone.”

Neck of the Woods music festival is suitable for all ages. IMAGE: Supplied

An opportunity for locals to shine

This year, Neck of the Woods will be headlined by San Cisco, Hockey Dad and Kyle Lionhart but local musicians will also get ample stage time.

“Over 50 per cent of the line-up is Townsville local acts,” says Nicole.

“That’s another really big priority for us… placing local artists on the line-up, alongside the touring acts, to expose them to a larger audience. We’re all about the local artists.”

Neck of the Woods’ appeal is its intimate vibe. IMAGE: Supplied

From backyard to paddock

The seed for the music festival was planted back in 2016 in Nicole’s own backyard.

“My partner, Sam Wright, and I started Neighbourhood Sessions in 2016. We started with an event in our backyard… which was a couple of friends and Sam and I playing. We opened it up and we had about 100 people come to our backyard to watch our little show,” she says.

“We gauged fairly quickly that there was a hunger for that type of event… that intimate style where people can bring their kids, be in a safe environment, on a picnic rug and just listen.

“We did a couple more but needed to keep finding bigger backyards. At the next one we had 300 people but there’s only so many people you can put in a backyard!” she laughs.

“So that was when the idea for Neck of the Woods was born.”

Neck of the Woods runs the full day. IMAGE: Supplied

Unique and boutique

Keeping things intimate is high on Nicole’s agenda, and is what, she believes, gives the festival its unique feel.

“We’ve always said that it’s really important for Neck of the Woods to remain a boutique festival, no more than 2,000 people… that would be our absolute maximum that we would ever want to come to the festival,” she says.

“We keep it spread out so people can have their own space, bring a picnic rug, relax, have something from the food trucks, wander around… it’s not a hectic environment like a lot of other music festivals can be.

“We have one stage so you’re not running from stage to stage. You can plant yourself and just relax. It’s a very different vibe from a standard music festival. It’s a lot more chilled, laid back and safe,” she says.

“There is a little bit of a mosh pit towards the end of the night but plenty of nice space for people who want to relax.”

And for those who hate port-a-loos, Nicole can confirm that this is a port-a-loo-free event, thanks to the in-built toilet block at Cluden.

Neck of the Woods will be held at Cluden Park on Saturday, 8 October. Kids under 12 are free

This article was supported by the Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF). RADF is a partnership between the Queensland Government and the Townsville City Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland.

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