Old is new again!
Bold art, artisan crafts and big beards – the Ballarat Heritage Festival is back better than ever
Ballarat Heritage Festival is running for more than three weeks for the first time in the event’s history.
Set to be not only a celebration of the city’s rich history, it’s also a chance to reconnect and celebrate being able to come together and experience what Ballarat is all about.
“We’ve lived through an incredibly difficult time in our recent history, so I invite you to look back on our shared past to learn and experience the lessons of yesteryear,” said City of Ballarat mayor Cr Daniel Moloney.
“We know Ballarat is known for its rich heritage, but we are inviting people to delve a bit deeper and find out more about what makes our city special.”
Beautiful buildings set the scene for what the festival has in store, but don’t expect traditional exhibitions that match the age of the architecture.
This Festival is all about mixing old and new, retro vibes paired with innovative thinking, celebrating country and culture, and a city that’s proud and historic while evolving to meet the needs of its community.
While the Festival is a celebration of the region’s rich heritage, the wonder of yesteryear will be brought to patrons through innovative displays, including augmented reality, for a truly immersive experience.
From beer school and instagrammable public art installations to craft demonstrations and progressive lunches, this year’s extended 24-day program sees the return of Festival favourites as well as a series of new COVID-safe activations to discover.
Beard & Stache Competition: Saturday 29 May
The Ballarat Beard & Stache Competition is an annual event celebrating all forms of facial hair. With more than $1000 in prizes the Beard & Stache Competition is one not to be missed by those with a face full of hair or those who are keen to do something a little different, as well as the men’s facial hair categories, there will be a Just For Fun category for gentlemen, ladies and children who want to get creative.
Hosted at Hop Temple, this event promises good food, good beer and good beards.
Craft Lab & Design Expo: 15, 16, 22, 23 May
An initiative of the UNESCO Creative City of Craft & Folk Arts program, this expo will showcase highly skilled practitioners, who will trace their heritage through the language of their crafts.
This two-weekend event will represent up to 18 different trades, makers and crafters with a spotlight on First Nations creatives. Walk through a curated exhibition of exemplary works and experience live demonstrations. There will also be a chance to buy unique hand-crafted items straight from the makers.
Ballarat Nostalgia: everyday
Instagram-favourites Sugar Republic will bring various Ballarat locations to life with a distinct nostalgic feel for the Ballarat you remember as a kid.
Be transported into an experience with a modern twist. You may strike it rich with gold shimmers, get lost in neon or send yourself back in time. Take a leisurely walk around the CBD and Lake Wendouree to experience the pop-up fun throughout the Festival.
Self-Guided Digital Heritage Tours: everyday
Explore Ballarat’s diverse historical landmarks and experience a new way to interact with the heritage streetscapes. There are 10 locations to visit, and by scanning a QR code, you can experience the history through a new augmented reality platform. This experience is done best with the audio tour, which includes compelling stories from various perspectives.
Steam Train Shuttles: Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 May
Steamrail Victoria invites you to ride their historical steam shuttles, departing from the heritage Ballarat Railway Station.
Journey behind two vintage steam locomotives built at the Phoenix Foundry in the heart of Ballarat. Listen to the engines work hard up the hill towards Melbourne, before they branch off on the old line towards Geelong for a scenic return ride towards Lal Lal. From here, the second locomotive will take charge and lead us back towards Ballarat Station, completing the one-hour journey.
Visit ballaratheritagefestival.com.au to find out more.