Ballarat will be abuzz with excitement this summer, thanks to a raft of things to see and do within the city and surrounding areas. Each year more than two million visitors descend on Ballarat to experience the arts and culture, food, and many events and festivals that make the city worthy of its position as the capital of Western Victoria.
What better way to celebrate the city’s ability to host such high-calibre events than by kicking off summer with a spectacular schedule of events, including Summer Sundays. One of Ballarat’s most popular summer events, Summer Sundays will return this January with a fantastic line-up of musical talent from throughout Victoria.
Celebrating its seventh year, Summer Sundays will be spread across three fun-filled days on January 7, 14 and 21 between 3-7pm. Held in the beautiful surrounds of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens, Ballarat will turn up the volume on its live music scene during Summer Sundays, with an eclectic mix of musical styles and diverse genres from local, regional and metropolitan acts, including Bob Evans, Jeff Lang, and local acts Freya Josephine Hollick and Rhiannon Simpson and The Triple Delta. Accompanying the exciting line-up of music will be a delicious selection of food vendors.
Approaching its sixth year, the 2018 Ballarat Beat Rockabilly Festival will transform Ballarat’s CBD into a 1950s-style celebration, with all the fun and excitement from that time. And you don’t have to have lived it to love it. The Festival will see Lydiard Street filled with thousands of well-fashioned event goers, young and old, soaking up the nostalgia of this golden decade.
Starting on Thursday evening February 8, live rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly music will be performed by international, national and local bands throughout the festival. The beat continues on Friday night, followed by two full days of rockabilly fun. Sunday evening will see revelers see out the weekend with a rockabilly party in The Lounge at The George Hotel Ballarat. Ballarat Beat Rockabilly Festival’s street party will include a street stage and outdoor dance floor featuring live music, DJ, dancing displays and lessons, rockabilly-inspired stalls, a classic and hot rod car display, fashion shows and a pinup competition at the Ballarat Mining Exchange.
A new exhibition at Sovereign Hill’s Gold Museum is showcasing one of the most extensive Chinese artefact collections, and for the first time in more than 50 years will reawaken Loong, one of Australia’s oldest dragons. TitledRe-awakening the Dragon, the exhibition displays items once used by Ballarat’s Chinese community for social, cultural and religious ceremonies.
“While Bendigo’s Loong, one of the four surviving dragons is well-known, our dragon will be unveiled for the first time in many years,” says Jeremy Johnson, Sovereign Hill’s CEO. “These treasures, and the spectacular dragon, have been in the Gold Museum’s collection stores for many years, and will showcase the important role Chinese people and their processional ceremonies played to the town of Ballarat and the goldfields.” Exhibition highlights include the Loong Dragon Head (circa 1897), made from layers of papier-mâché, kingfisher feathers, mirrors and pompoms. While his face has been painted over, the original layer is partially visible. His final appearance was at the Ballarat Begonia Festival in the 1960s. There’s also a collection of highly decorative processional silk costumes, including jackets, pants, headdress and skirts.
Ballarat’s own floating tourist attraction, The Begonia Princess was built in 1988, the 17th ferry to cruise Lake Wendouree. It was lovingly restored in 2010 and is currently the oldest original vessel of its type on the lake. Paddleboats such as The Begonia Princess, and steamboats have been cruising on the lake since the late 1800s.Changing weather patterns saw the lake dry up completely in the years 1899, 1915 and 2006, with many of the boats becoming stuck in the mud. The popularity of paddleboats decreased when trams were introduced in 1905.
As well as being booked for charter, there are numerous opportunities for people to board The Begonia Princess and enjoy both the entertainment and hospitality on board, and the surrounding environment, be it a tranquil summer's day or a celebratory evening. Summer dates you can enjoy a journey on The Begonia Princess include the Rail Paddle and Plate adventure on December 2, during the Ballarat Beer Festival on January 20 and a three-course Australia Day dinner and sunset cruise on January 26.
Following the success of the Underground Wine Cellar at its sister property Cleveland Winery, wine and produce hub Tastings has been launched at Grange Bellinzona in Hepburn Springs. The new concept brings together the best wines from the Macedon Ranges, wood fired gourmet pizzas and beautiful cottage style gardens for all to enjoy throughout the summer months. As well as the Grange’s own range of wines, Tastings offers guests the opportunity to purchase wines from local producers, including Granite Hills, Hesket Estate, Balgownie Estate and Daylesford’s own Herbal Lore Liqueurs in one beautiful setting. Guests can choose to stop by and taste the wines with a pizza, or enjoy lunch on the deck overlooking the Wombat State Forest, or simply pick up their favourite bottle - Tastings is a great concept which is open to all.
The gardens at Grange Bellinzona are a delight during summer and provide the perfect setting to get together with family and friends during the warmer weekends in the beautiful town of Hepburn Springs. Tastings is open to all, you do not need to be a guest of the hotel to enjoy this great venue that’s a fantastic place within walking distance of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs, plus a short journey from surrounding towns.
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