Australia will be front and centre on the world's stage during January with internationally recognised festivals and sporting competitions taking place around the country.
New South Wales
Asia's biggest football tournament is coming to Australia with the AFC Asian Cup held from 10 to 31 January. Sixteen countries will play 32 games of football to decide the Asian Championship, which will see the winner qualify for the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2017i.
The renowned Tamworth Country Music Festival, which is the largest music festival in the Southern Hemisphere, returns with 800 performers, 4,000 shows and 120 different venues from 16 to 25 Januaryii. The main attraction is the CMAA Country Music Awards of Australia when the best of Australia's country music scene make an appearance to find out who will win the Golden Guitar Awardsii. Featuring local and international country music acts, this year Australian music icon Paul Kelly will be playing tracks from his new record The Merri Soul Sessionsiii.
The first tennis Grand Slam of the year is back with the Australian Open from 19 January to 1 February. Watch as the world's best test each other to the limit inside the historic Rod Laver Arena. Catch Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams all striving for the perfect start to 2015iv.
From its origins in a small Melbourne bar, to its current edition of eight boutique festivals right around the world, St Jerome's Laneway Festival continues to draw crowds in the thousands. The Brisbane edition of Laneway, on 31 January, showcases some of the best up-and-coming local and international acts including Flying Lotus, Lykke Li and Seekaev. Laneway prides itself on being community oriented, encouraging local artists to participate at each event. The festival continues into February, with four more Australian dates.
Now in its 21st year, the Falls Festival combines art, music and comedy in Marion Bay from 29 December to 1 January. Featuring iconic music acts such as the John Butler Trio, Spiderbait, the Presets and The Temper Trap, this year's festival promises to be an incredible experiencevi. Tickets are selling out fast with the Lorne edition of the festival already sold outvii .
Australian Capital Territory
Canberra is all about music this January with the 2015 Summer Sounds Concert Series from 4 to 26 January. The Eucalypt Lawn in the picturesque Australian National Botanic Gardens comes alive with rockabilly, jazz, blues, country and rock'n'roll performancesviii. Entry is by a donation of $2 per person or $5 for families so come along, bring a picnic and enjoy excellent live music surrounded by the natural beauty of the gardensviii.
The thrill and excitement of Rugby Sevens returns to Darwin with the Hottest 7's in the World for two adrenaline-fuelled days of competition from 24 to 25 January. Originally known as the Territory 7's in 1989, the tournament has become an international event, attracting teams from New Zealand, Fiji, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Kenya and South Africaix. The prize pool of $60,000, which is the most money awarded for a Sevens tournament in the Southern Hemisphere, means this competition will continue to attract high quality teams for fast-paced Rugby Sevens actionix.
In the lead-up to the Australian Open, the Hopman Cup pits nation against nation in a mixed teams tennis competition from 4 to 10 January. The Hopman Cup features a star-studded line-up with nine current top 20 players including world number one, Serena Williams, and defending champion Jo-Wilfried Tsongax. Local up-and-coming stars Nick Kyrgios and fan-favourite, Casey Dellacqua, will be hoping the home-court advantage can carry them all the way to the titlexi.
The Southern Hemisphere's largest cycling race, the Santos Tour Down Under, is back in Adelaide and surrounds from 17 to 25 of January. The Santos Tour Down Under is the first race on the international cycling calendar and attracts some of the best cyclists from around the worldxii. The Tour also features the Bupa Challenge where cycling fans of varying abilities can ride the same route as international cyclists with 27km, 77.5km and 118.7km racesxiii.