THE stage is set and town is filling up with music lovers as the Airlie Beach Music Festival prepares to rock the Whitsundays.
Thousands of festival-goers are expected to arrive in town for the event where 74 bands will perform across 16 venues.
The huge main stage is at the Whitsunday Sailing Club, where the headlining acts including Mental as Anything, Hoodoo Gurus, Dragon, Diesel and Kasey Chambers will entertain the crowds each day and night.
There are 15 other venues across town that will host the many more acts and with so many musical styles on offer, everyone will be sure to find something to suit their taste.
Event organiser Gavin 'Butto' Butlin said the entire region would benefit from the Airlie Beach Music Festival and that it was hoped it would become an annual event.
Accommodation providers have reported strong bookings for the weekend, and Butto said he was already in negotiations with musicians for an event next year.
He said the festival would kick off on Friday but with so many musicians and fans arriving today, they were planning an impromptu get-together on the Airlie foreshore this afternoon from 5pm.
"We'd like to try and set a world record for the amount of people playing their acoustic guitars on the beach, so anyone with a guitar is welcome to join us," he said.
"After that, we will have a jam session at the Airlie Beach Hotel - and then the festival proper kicks off on Friday."
Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Jenny Whitney said she was hopeful the festival would showcase the region on a national level.
"It is fantastic that our region is able to host an event of this calibre," she said.
Festival-goers will need tickets to be admitted to the main acts at the Whitsunday Sailing Club and will be able to catch free buses between venues. The full program of acts and where they are playing appears on page 15 of today's Whitsunday Times and there is more information on the front page of Chill (page 19).
Tickets can purchased for one, two or three days and are available from the festival office in the main street and from the Whitsunday Sailing Club, or visit http://www.airliebeachmusicfestival.com.au.
- Friday, November 8 from 5pm-midnight - The Hillbilly Goats, Chasing the Jeffery, Blue Ruins, Mental as Anything, James Reyne, Ian Moss
- Saturday, November 9 from 5pm-midnight - Mason Rack Band, Bourbon St, Wanita Honkey Tonk Queen, Dragon, Diesel, Hoodoo Gurus
- Sunday, November 10 from 3pm - Kieran McCarthy, Buddy Knox, Brian Cadd & Glen Shorrick, Bill Chambers, Kasey Chambers, Ross Wilson and Phil Emmanuel
- 1 day - $115
- 2 day - $195
- 3 day - $245