YOU know you’re in for a busy day when you drive into the Sovereign Hill car park and are politely asked if you would be so kind to drive to the “overflow” about 700 metres away, but that was the case on Saturday as tourists flocked to the attraction’s biggest day in history.
Glorious sunshine greeted 10,000 visitors on Saturday who experienced the Winter Wonderlights in perfect, if not a little chilly, weather.
Despite the daytime sunshine, the snow fell right on time as the lights came into full effect at 5.45pm.
In all, more than 15,000 people joined in the fun and festivities of a Christmas in July across the weekend.
Patrons queued up for all sorts of wares including mulled wine, multiple flavours of fudge, toffee apples and that elusive Gingerbread Man who brought the festive season home.
During the day the lines at the New York Bakery stretched half way down Main Street while mine tours sold out within minutes.
Saturday’s crowd of 10,000 made for the biggest single day in the 48-year history of the attraction. Another 5000 visited on Sunday.
With one week still to go, event organisers predict that they will exceed last year’s number of visitors.
Sovereign Hill Director of Marketing Jennifer Ganske said with over 15km of fairy lights, more large-scale light projections in the one site than anywhere else in Australia, and tonnes of snowfall, the Christmas event had transformed Sovereign Hill into the top winter destination throughout the July school holidays.
“We’re absolutely thrilled at how visitors have embraced our Winter Wonderlights event this year,” Ms Ganske said.
“We really took our event to the next level by turning Sovereign Hill into the most spectacular yuletide experience, and visitors from all over the world have made the trip to Ballarat.”
Ms Ganske said since the event’s introduction in 2011 visitors to the Golden Point attraction had increased by more than 275 per cent.
“We’re thrilled to deliver a highly innovative event each year that brings enormous economic benefit to the city of Ballarat,” she said.
“We’re delighted with the response that has seen us welcome visitors from all over regional Victoria and indeed Australia.”
Sovereign Hill is also preparing to farewell its long running Blood On The Southern Cross which will end on July 29. A new sound and light show will open in December.