The biggest names in New Zealand's country rock scene are set to play in the Bay of Islands this month as live music begins a slow return to post-Covid normality.
Long-time organiser Shirley May said the May 13-15 Bay of Islands Country Rock Festival would feature the likes of Suzanne Prentice, Jodi Vaughan, Brendan Dugan, Gray Bartlett and Eddie Low.
They would be joined by new bands that had never played the festival before, such as the all-female South Island trio Vino. May said fans were eager to experience live music again after more than two years of disruption and cancellations.
"There's definitely a lot of hunger for it. There's been no music for so long. People just want to get out and get into it."
Six venues would host this year's 45 acts — Twin Pines Manor in Haruru, Ex-Servicemen's Club, Kingsgate Autolodge and Sports Bar in Paihia, The Duke of Marlborough and Nauti Penguin in Russell. With the Scenic Hotel temporarily unavailable, festival headquarters would be at the Kingsgate.
The festival went ahead last year but had to be cancelled in 2020.
May was expecting a slow start to ticket sales while people were still wary of Covid but motel owners had told her they were starting to get bookings from out-of-town country rockers.
Entry badges cost $80 for three days, the same price as last year.
No international acts would play at the country rock festival this year but several Australian bands were booked for the Bay of Islands Jazz and Blues Festival in August.
The jazz and blues event, which is also organised by May, went ahead last year but only just. The entire country went into a snap lockdown two days afterwards.
May said last year's Jazz and Blues Festival was the biggest to date, with more than 1300 tickets sold.
"People just wanted to get out and hear music," she said.
There were concerns at the time Covid may have spread among festival-goers, but no cases were connected to the event and Paihia wastewater tests remained clear of the virus.
■ Go to boimusicfestivals.com for the full festival programme.