Nightide to light up the longest night

June 15, 2024 BY

The Nightide festival is hosted by Searoad Ferries in partnership with the Borough of Queenscliffe. Photos: SUPPLIED

QUEENSCLIFF is again gearing up to toast the longest night of the year with a fire- and ice-themed winter solstice celebration.

Now in its second year, the Nightide festival promises an electrifying experience filled with roaming entertainment, fireworks, hot saunas, ice baths and live music.

The festival, which is hosted by Searoad Ferries in partnership with the Borough of Queenscliffe, will take place in the compound surrounding the Queenscliff Ferry Terminal on June 22 between 5pm and 9pm.

Last year’s event drew a crowd of about 5,000 people.


Searoad Ferries’ digital and content marketing co-ordinator Peter Wallace said the festival would be even bigger than last year, with lots of new attractions and installations for visitors to enjoy.

“Queenscliff still has a certain amount of charm in the winter, and we still want to bring people down here this time of year.

“I know it can seem a bit cold and woolly – and it is – but we want to embrace that.”

He said last year’s event drew a crowd of about 5,000 people, a response he said, “exceeded expectations”.

“I think what it proved was that people are really hungry for an opportunity for the community to come together.

“We’re obviously embedded in the community here at Queenscliff and we want to continue to put Queenscliff on the map.

“We feel like our terminal has helped do that, but events like this is what really can assist in bringing people to the region, not just to experience what we offer, but what everyone in town offers.”


This year’s Nightide will begin with the inaugural Frostbite solstice swim, an icy 500m competitive event for the daring to show their friends and family what they are made of.

For those willing to brave the cold waters of Port Phillip Bay, but not the competition, there will also be a 100m fancy dress float.

“We’re encouraging groups to come down, dress in their craziest swim costume or inflatable device and do a 100m float while braving the icy waters,” Mr Wallace said.

“Whoever the best dressed is, we’re going to donate $1,000 to their nominated charity.”


For the first time, the festival will also feature several ticketed, indoor events, offering visitors an opportunity to escape the crowds and the cold for a more intimate experience within the ferry terminal.

The first-floor lounge will transform into Afterdark, a VIP party with an elevated canape menu prepared by TARRA’s executive chef Michael Demagistris and a DJ spinning vinyl all night.

Elsewhere, a speakeasy and cocktail lounge will provide visitors with a space to relax and enjoy handcrafted cocktails, while roving performers entertain with moments of weird and wonderful.

Meanwhile TARRA will be reimagined for the night as a dessert restaurant, with a four-course dessert menu crafted by Demagistris.

This year’s visitors will again be treated to a fireworks display.


Mr Wallace said the menu was heavily influenced by Demagistris’ time at the Chicago-based and three Michelin starred restaurant Alinea, and visitors should expect immersive and interactive displays that used liquid nitrogen and crazy flavours that “mess with your palette”.

He encouraged everyone to get behind the festival, “have a bit of fun and see Queenscliff”.

“We feel like we’re going to be able to pull off a really cool event this year – pardon the pun,” he said.

“We really are lucky down here on the Bellarine and not everyone knows about it. If this helps to put it on the map a little bit, then we’re really happy.”

To register for a free ticket to Nightide, or to purchase tickets to one of the indoor events, head to nightide.com.au