Top picks, Ballarat winter festival, Vic

July 9, 2019 / By Oceana Setaysha

The nights start to lengthen and the temperature drops, winter is everywhere, seeping into the bones. You might think it’s time to pack up your adventures and hibernate a while, but in Ballarat winter is the time to come alive. 

The Ballarat Winter Festival, running from June 29th to July 21st is a celebration of the frosty season, packed full of exciting activities and experiences that will add a spark to your winter days. Here’s are my top picks! 

Pop-Up Skating Rink

There aren’t too many places in Australia you can lace up your skates and hit the ice, but the Ballarat Winter Festival is one of them. During the festivities, in the heart of the Ballarat CBD you’ll find a pop-up ice skating rink just waiting for you to carve things up. Leap and twirl or just practice staying on your feet, it’s fun that folks of any age can enjoy. 

New for 2019 the pop-up rink will also host Neon Disco sessions, with professional performances, themed music, lights and an opportunity for you to show off your own skills as well.  Tickets can be purchased here, and skate hire is included. 

Activated Art Walk

A part of the Ballarat Winter Festival for the first time this year is the exciting Activated ArtWalk, an interactive experience that encourages guests to look deeper into the cultural history of Ballarat. With a special app, visitors can wander the streets and bring to life six very special works of art, learning more about the city and the people who have made Ballarat what it is today. 

The ArtWalk is totally free, and a fantastic way to explore Ballarat and see how art and culture can be merged with technology in this unique winter festival experience. You can check out the map here.  

Winteractive Arcade 

Speaking of technology, and particularly the wonders of augmented reality, it’s not only the Activated ArtWalk that is putting on a show for the festival this year. In two sessions from the 29 - 30 June and 1- 14 July, the Mining Exchange is hosting the Winteractive Arcade. 

This experience is an adventure into technology, encompassing both the exciting future and the nostalgic past. Visitors who attend will get to see Drone Legend, an enormous multiplayer version of Snake, an augmented reality exhibition, and everything cool coming to technology and fashion. You can get tickets here

Winter Wonderlights 

Christmas in Australia is always missing a certain ‘winter wonderland’ vibe, which is exactly why Ballarat’s Winter Wonderlights are a must-see during the festival. Sovereign Hill comes alive in the evenings for the entire length of the festival with lights that will make Santa himself green with Grinch-y envy. Christmas truly does exist in Ballarat at this time of year, and there’s everything from street performances to music, fake snow and a European street market. 

If you’ve ever wished for a wintery Christmas experience, the Winter Wonderlights is the place to get it. Tickets are a must, and you can get them here


The Design Exchange Market

Another first for the Ballarat Winter Festival this year is one for the makers, creators, and lovers of handmade and handcrafted goods: The Design Exchange. A two-day design event bringing together the best creative minds for a market that is truly unlike any other. Saturday the 6th of July is opening night, where visitors can explore the amazing designers, artists, crafters and makers, and purchase their wonderful works. 

Then, on Sunday the 7th the Design Exchange opens again for more creators, and a tantalising Dessert Lane for folks wanting a side of sweets with their small business. It’s all the creativity, mulled wines, beers, whiskeys, artisan foods and cosy winter comfort you could hope for, definitely don’t miss it! Find out more information here.

Food and Drink 

It would be quite impossible to narrow down what is on offer when it comes to food and drink at the Ballarat Winter Festival to just a single must-do experience. Instead, we encourage any winter festival visitors to positively envelop themselves in the many delectable and delicious food and drink-related events. 

There’s a Nepalese Banquet, a food masterclass, a fireside cellar experience, dark beer tastings, a truffle harvesting and tasting adventure, an exploration into Japanese beers, whiskeys and dumplings, a full Moroccan feast, and even a celebration of Western Victoria’s top winemakers. If you’ve dreamed about eating it or drinking it, we’re pretty sure you can find it at the Ballarat Winter Festival. 

With so much to see and do, the Ballarat Winter Festival is shaping up to make winter our new favourite time of the year! So throw on your coats and beanies and head out to Ballarat to see what your winter has been missing. Believe us, you won’t regret leaving the warmth of your living rooms for this!

We think you should know: The Weekender's travel guides are independently written by real travellers. We do not receive any money from, or have a sponsorship arrangement with, any of the entities listed in, or referred to in this article.

So much more to explore - Goldfields region