Sovereign Hill may still be the main driver for tourism in Ballarat, but visitors are starting to know the city for much more than its heritage buildings and living history museum.
Ballarat is quickly establishing itself as an arts city with the focus now on growing the grassroots scene to accompany major players such as The Art Gallery of Ballarat and Her Majesty’s Theatre.
This year’s Archibald Prize exhibition attracted more than 59,000 visitors over a six week period, beating the 2015 statistics by more than 2000 and generating a $6.5 million injection into Ballarat’s economy.
While the exhibition will move to Geelong next year following a two-year stint in Ballarat, residents and tourists alike will be able to delight in another major arts coup with the White Night Festival set to light up the town.
Stunning artistic displays will be projected onto heritage buildings throughout the CBD from sunset to sunrise on Saturday, March 4.
While the City of Ballarat does not yet have forecasted economic impact figures, it predicts about 50,000 people to attend the 12-hour event.
However it won’t only be art enthusiasts to make the trip to Ballarat next year.
The Western Bulldogs will attract football fans across the state thanks to an AFL game at Eureka Stadium in August.
The reigning premiers will come up against Port Adelaide in what will be the club’s first-ever home game at the redeveloped stadium.
Western Bulldogs chief executive Gary Kent previously told The Courier the club is planning to create a festival atmosphere in Ballarat that offers a football match, but also an opportunity for the club to engage with the city through a number of key activities.
And it would be remiss not to mention the city’s developing food and wine scene.
Catfish Thai attained a prestigious “chef hat” for the second year running in this year’s The Age Good Food Guide.
The city has also established a cafe culture similar to Melbourne – you can now find hip coffee venues with inventive brunch dishes not only in the city centre, but popping up in suburban streets.
It’s no wonder tourism continues to spike each year as the city further cements itself as a must-visit regional destination.
Rather than become complacent with a hugely successful attraction in Sovereign Hill, the city continues to reinvent itself and evolve across all areas.
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