VENUE owners are hopeful that Tamworth Country Music Festival 2021 could be the first to go ahead in Australia if strict COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed.
Country music artists who have had their tours cancelled in 2020 have still booked in their usual spots with Wests Entertainment Group, chief executive Rod Laing said.
"We're playing out two scenarios with physical distancing measures that will be in place when we reopen, I don't know how long they will be in place for but they will be in place," he said.
"January is a while off and Australia is in good shape so I would expect by spring or summer that a lot of those restrictions will be relaxed.
"Artists have experienced cancellations for the rest of the year, tours have been cancelled so they are looking at Tamworth to recommence their shows.
"They are chomping at the bit to get back and Tamworth is what they are looking forward to."
The difficulty will be a reduced capacity for inside venues with both free and ticketed shows, Mr Laing said, but he has been attending US webinars to see how they have reopened entertainment venues there.
He believes a cancellation of the festival is out of the question.
"There are many ways to reinvent the festival than just being here physically, there are a lot of concepts individuals are working on to move the festival ahead no matter what," he said.
At this stage Tamworth Country Music Festival 2021 is planned for January 15 to 24 and organisers are confident it will go ahead, even if it looks slightly different.
Owner of the Pub Group Craig Power hosts live music at a number of his locations throughout the 10-day festival.
Plans for the next year usually start at the end of the festival, he said, but this year it has been tougher to make firm decisions.
"At the end of the day we're hoping with the way restrictions have been lifted in the last couple of weeks that we could be facing a very unique situation where we're the first festival to get going in Australia," he said.
"It definitely depends on the restrictions, we can't really predict what the changes will be.
"Through the whole COVID-19 process it changes day-to-day, so until those decisions come out it can only be an advantage and a positive that some restrictions have lifted and regional travel is soon to be accepted."