Sir Richard Branson's V Festival arrives in Australia early 2007 -- six months after it launched in the United States and Canada.

The Australian version is a 50:50 partnership between the U.K.-based Virgin Group and Melbourne-based promoter Michael Coppel Presents (MCP). Coppel has just finished touring U2, which shifted 600,000 tickets, and is bringing out Eric Clapton, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pink, Scissor Sisters and Roger Waters in the first quarter of 2007.

Among the first 12 acts unveiled for the Australian V Festival are the Pixies who make their live debut here, Pet Shop Boys, Gnarls Barkley, Groove Armada, Bumblebeez and 2 Many DJs.

The Australian event will take in two shows only -- at Centennial Park in Sydney (March 31) and the Avica Resort, on the Gold Coast (April 1) -- to about 70,000, according to Michael Coppel, MCP's managing director. The 2008 event will take in more cities, he says.

The festival enters a crowded live outdoor circuit in Australia. There are already 70 due to be held between Dec. 1 and early April. A new blues festival, and a national skate-punk/metal festival are expected to be announced separately in the coming weeks.

Coppel tells, "V is aimed at the 25 to 45 demographic span, who want a nice day's experience. It won't be like Big Day Out (a six city tour in January which reaches 250,000 people), which is a rites-of-passage for 15 to 20 year olds who like alt-rock and hard rock. We're not going to be as rootsy as some of the bluesfests."

Rival promoter Michael Chugg, Sydney-based managing director of Chugg Entertainment, who co-organizes the East Coast and West Coast blues festivals, does not see a saturation of the market.

"The live scene is so buoyant at the moment, every style of tour and festival seems to be working," Chugg says.

Virgin Mobile is main sponsor of the festival and airline Virgin Blue its travel and accommodation partner.