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It was a Tuesday back in early 2012. Actually, was it a Wednesday? No wait, it may have been a Saturday. It’s not important. What IS important is that the sun came up that day (very important) on a brand new festival. A celebration of performance, laughter and general mayhem. A big group hug to the arts and festival scene. No, that’s too platonic. A giant KISS.


And so ‘KISS’ was born – standing for ‘Kiama International Sea Side’ Arts Festival and the brainchild of Aussie Tamara Campbell and Brit Dave Evans. They’d met in Europe while touring that continent’s fervent festival scene for 20 years, across 42 countries.


While they were both incontinent--- sorry, ahem… while they were both IN that continent, they got a crazy kick out of seeing the joy that the humble combo of humour and hijinks could bring. And upon settling down (sort of) in Kiama, they looked at their checklist for the perfect town.


On the list was a lighthouse (tick), blowhole (tick), at least 10 beaches (tick), three ice cream shops (tick), a painted plaster cow in the main street (tick), a street named Bong Bong (tee hee, tick) and a train overbridge with precisely 3.4m clearance (tick). But one thing was missing.


You see, all those vibrant European festivals would see small towns transformed into vast theatres celebrating culture and the arts – accessible to all, regardless of age, wealth, education, star sign or fashion sense. Fun was a universal language, and it didn’t have to just belong to Melbourne or Sydney. They wanted to bring this special vibe to Kiama.


So, with the help of local innovators such as Kiama Council, Tamara and Dave set about bringing a European-style festival to Kiama, with free world-class entertainment. In summer 2012, the first KISS festival was held in Kiama’s Hindmarsh Park – comprising just one tent. From there it grew, until 2016, when it moved to autumn and made stunning Black Beach its new village home. Best decision ever, said everyone.




Tamara and Dave, founders of KISS, have quite literally made laughter their business. (No seriously, we are using ‘literally’ right. Check out their website.) They operate on a fundamental belief that what they do is really important to society. In these times of doom, gloom, and bombs that go boom, laughter and joy are more important than ever. It opens minds, builds communities, and creates a better, more connected world.


KISS Arts Fest continues to grow and evolve. But ultimately it will always be about:

  • Family-friendly wonder and entertainment

  • Unique experiences

  • Interaction, participation, and experimentation

  • Human nature in nature’s playground

  • Local and international talent

  • Surprises, laughter, and big wide smiles

  • Celebrating art in all its crazy forms.

  • Fun. Fun, and more fun.

We can’t wait to share a cheeky KISS with you at picturesque Black Beach Kiama, on the final weekend of April 2022. Be part of the fun!

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