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Wonderful winter in Ballarat

Festivals

There’s heaps of ways to enjoy winter in and around Ballarat.

Hit the ice at the pop-up skating rink. Image: Meda Design Au.
5 things to do at the Ballarat Winter Festival

The iconic Ballarat Winter Festival is back! Rug up and embrace the cold with plenty of winter-themed events, activities and entertainment on offer. Then devour plates of belly-warming comfort food.

  1. Get your skates on and book your tickets now for the pop-up ice skating rink. Plus get 15% off your tickets just by spending $25 at any Ballarat hospitality or tourism business. See ballaratwinterfestival.com.au for details. 29 June-21 July
  2. Winter Wonderlights at Sovereign Hill returns to shine bright in its 10th year. The winter wonderland is complete with dazzling projections, blazing fires, delicious treats, hands-on activities, live music, interactive theatre and even faux snowfalls. 28 June-21 July.
  3. Candlelight Concerts’ Best of Hans Zimmer and Tribute to Queen bring live multi-sensory experiences to the Ballarat Mining Exchange. This combination of iconic heritage architecture, live music and candlelight is not to be missed. 13 July 6pm & 8pm.
  4. Support local creatives by shopping at The Design Exchange Market. Over two days, wander and shop the selection of amazing independent designers, makers and creators plus discover artisan food and producers to the sounds of talented musicians. 6 & 7 July.
  5. Be immersed in the program of winter wonders and fiery action with Frozen Kingdom at Kryal Castle. See knights battle with flaming swords, horses jump over flames and more! Various dates across June & July.
Find black gold at Black Cat Truffles by Liam Downes.
5 ways to fill your belly this winter

From perfect pies and warming red wine to bushfood-infused hot chocolates and a festival celebrating the rich world of dark beers, be comforted by these winter warmers.

  1. Pack your gumboots because Black Cat Truffles is in harvest mode. Forage for the aromatic fungi on a winter truffle hunt or stop by the restaurant for a six-course lunch by award-winning chef Liam Downes or an afternoon grazing menu.
  2. Ballarat’s Best Pie is back and bigger than ever. From flaky crusts to mouth-watering fillings, there’s 28 pies to satisfy hungry bellies. Prepare your tastebuds for some exciting flavour combos! 1-31 August.
  3. Perfect for winter, the first-ever Obsidian Dark Beer Festival (29 June) will showcase more than 28 unique dark beers from 14 independent Victorian breweries. For all things red wine, the Red Series Ballarat returns on 26 & 27 July. Sample wine from over 20 of western Victoria’s finest award-winning winemakers.
  4. What’s better than a steaming bowl of comfort food or a glass of local red wine (or two) beside a roaring fireplace? Not much if you ask us. You’ll find some of our favourites to cozy up beside at Hydrant Food Hall, Mitchell Harris Wine Bar, Michael Unwin Wines, Hop Temple, Johnny Alloo and Aunty Jacks.
  5. Our hospo folk are a creative bunch. For something special, make it a Christmas in July high tea at Buninyong’s The Shared Table (21 July) and enjoy a delectable selection of sweet and savoury treats sprinkled with some festive magic. Or make it warming comfort food with Winter Wednesdays at Mr Jones Dining.
Scott Leonard’s artwork on the corner of Sturt and Doveton streets celebrates Ballarat’s makers and creators. Image: Mass Motion
5 ways to feed your creativity

Explore the gallery by day (or by night), take in a show or see who takes out the top prize at Ballarat’s own short film festival.

  1. Step inside and warm up at Australia’s oldest regional gallery. The Art Gallery of Ballarat’s winter program covers everything from contemporary Indonesian sculpture to a technicolor celebration of all things Palm Springs. Consider your cup refilled!
  2. After dark, the Art Gallery of Ballarat comes alive. ART LATE is a curated series of encounters featuring a dynamic combination of mind-blowing music and thought-provoking art, plus supper, sweets and a bar.
  3. Whether it’s shows from comedy legends like Em Rusciano or Ross Noble, music-filled evenings with icons John Williamson, Marcia Hines and Polaris, or fun for the kids with Grug or Emma Memma, Civic Hall always has something to see (and hear).
  4. After the sell-out success of the inaugural Poco Film Fest in 2022, the Ballarat short film festival is back for round two. And this time it’s expanded program includes Poco Talks – Behind the Lens, an exciting opportunity to be in the room with some of Australia’s leading film and TV professionals. 2 & 3 August.
  5. Check out the ‘Let us know what you love’ Ballarat Art Trail. Seven local artists have created beautiful artworks showing what they love about the Ballarat region for a pop-up art trail. On show until 22 July.
Summerfield Winery in the Pyrenees.
5 things to check out in the Pyrenees

With over 25 wineries, amazing food and wild and wonderful landscapes, a winter road trip to the Pyrenees is a must.

  1. Book a table at the newly-opened Beaufort restaurant Magnolia for some ultimate comfort food. Chef and owner Anjal Joshi is on a quest to revive the art of old-school cooking infused with contemporary culinary methods.
  2. There’s nothing better than an afternoon tasting delicious wine and local produce to the sounds of live music. Iconic Pyrenees wineries Taltarni Vineyards, Blue Pyrenees Estate and Sally’s Paddock (at Redback Winery) will be hosting live music at their cellar doors throughout winter. Various dates.
  3. Mrs Baker’s Still House is a female-led micro distillery in the picturesque hamlet of Glenpatrick. Be sure to try their new shiraz and chocolate gin made from shiraz grapes grown in the family’s vineyard, or go all out and book in for one of their gin blending masterclasses.
  4. Summerfield Winery owner Mark Summerfield has extended his cellar door to include a restaurant which specialises in wood-fired pizzas and stone-baked sourdough bread. Mark also grows his own pork and lamb which he butchers himself. When he isn’t in the vineyard, making pizzas or baking in the kitchen, Mark always has time to talk wine with visitors.
  5. Head to Waubra and you’ll uncover Wayward Winery, the closest Pyrenees winery to Ballarat. After the short drive, you’ll find a wood-fired oven taking centre stage in the kitchen and a menu dominated by local produce that’s simply and respectfully prepared. The cellar door and restaurant have a stunning outlook over the vineyards and the rolling hills of the Pyrenees Ranges beyond.
Meet furry friends at Creswick Woollen Mills. Image: Tony Evans.
5 ways to put a smile on their face

This school holidays there’s plenty to keep the kids happy.

  1. For animal-loving kids, book them into the Ballarat Wildlife Park’s Junior Keeper Program. This unique experience teaches kids aged 6-15 fascinating facts about a range of different species at the park. From preparing food to raking up roo poo, Junior Keepers will learn to work as a team and get a great insight into what it takes to care for animals. Bookings essential.
  2. Pay a visit to Ballarat Indoor Go Karts and Laserforce. Battle it out in the Laserforce arena or race your mates on the go kart track. Then head to the recently-opened arcade centre for more fun and games!
  3. Just outside of Ballarat is Newlyn’s Maze House where you’ll not only find a 30-year-old hedge maze, but also a nostalgic range of old-time carnival games dotted throughout the country garden.
  4. Take the short drive to Smeaton’s Tuki Trout Farm and Retreat. Check out the ponds and try your luck at catching a trout that the team will then prepare and cook for you. Or say hi to some furry friends with a visit to the nearby Creswick Woollen Mills.
  5. Go for a ride on a vintage tram at the Ballarat Tramway Museum and explore the collection of historic tramcars in the Display Hall. The running fleet includes nine tramcars which initially ran in Melbourne and arrived in Ballarat between 1930 and 1951, and four acquired directly from Melbourne by the museum.

Main image Winter Wonderlights supplied by Sovereign Hill.

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25 Jun 2024

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These lands have been nurtured and cared for over tens of thousands of years and we respect the work of Traditional Custodians for their ongoing care and protection.

We recognise the past injustices against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in this country. As our knowledge grows, we hope that we can learn from their resilience and creativity that has guided them for over 60,000 years.

As we invite people to visit and explore Victoria’s Midwest, we ask that alongside us, you also grow to respect the stories, living culture and connection to Country of the Ancestors and Elders of our First Peoples.

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