BALLARAT’s worst asset is fast becoming one of its best with plans in motion to expand on a raft of winter festivals held throughout June and July.
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The iconic Winterlude festival encompasses Sovereign Hill’s Christmas in July, the City of Ballarat’s Laneways – Live and Local Festival and Leadership Ballarat’s Rug Up events.
The council pledged $200,000 to the festival in its budget. However, mayor Des Hudson said no decision had been made on whether prices for the pop-up ice skating rink would rise amid concerns rink operating costs would require increased ticketing prices. Last year, more than 10,000 people used the pop-up ice rink with tickets ranging from $5 to $10.
Ballarat Regional Tourism reported last year’s festival sparked a surge in visitation throughout the school holidays. There was also a reported accommodation occupancy increase of 80 per cent on the same time in 2014.
The city’s pie competition resulted in more than 5000 pies being sold throughout July. BRT estimated the Winterlude Festival brought an economic boost of more than a million dollars to Ballarat. The pie competition was credited with generating $100,000 for cafes and restaurants.
Councillor Belinda Coates said Ballarat Laneways – Live and Local generated economic return in a number of ways, including by creating local employment, with event producers, graphic designers, lights technicians, cash bar vendors, security staff and musicians all required to pull the event off.
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