Top winter festivals to warm the senses this season

Words by Della Vreeland
Images Supplied

It’s no secret that we’re quite the winter champions here in Victoria. We don’t just mean in terms of leading the way when it comes to the season’s execution (does any other ((mainland)) state do it better?). But also in terms of advocating for the cooler months. God knows the winter gets a bad rap sometimes, but we’re here to tell the rest of Australia it is actually quite magical if you just give it a chance.

Since we’re so experienced at navigating the winter landscape, it comes as no surprise that our winter festivals and events are especially alluring. So when your visiting friends and relatives feel like harping on about how cold it is in Victoria, perhaps just take them along to one of these festivals and simply observe as the warmth penetrates their entire being. (Maybe also ask them to chuck on a few layers and a Kathmandu. For good measure.)

Borealis on the Lake: July 15 – September 4

BOREALIS On the LakeIt’s toured the world, and now it’s coming to Daylesford to light up the night sky as well as our own eyes. Created by internationally-renowned Switzerlandbased artist Dan Archer, Borealis on the Lake is set to be a captivating display which transports us to the Arctic Circle. Taking place at the iconic Lake Daylesford, the installation combines technology and art to create unique auroras with colour, movement, music, density of light beams and changing weather conditions to give infinite variations.  So rug up, pull up your picnic chair and hot choccie, and get set for a surreal northern experience down under.

Find out more here.

Nillumbik Open Cellars: June 18 – 19

Nillumbik Open CellarsCelebrating 21 years, Nillumbik Open Cellars is a winter showcase of the finest wineries of the region and a celebration of thriving culture of the Nillumbik community. The festival will feature 10 family-owned wineries each with their own individual style and will also serve up an array of local fare, art and live music. Vino-lovers will have a chance to sample traditionally-produced wines at wineries not always open to the public as they relish in the surrounding charm and history that the region’s backdrop provides.

More here.

White Night Shepparton: June 25

White Night SheppartonPlay all night. ‘Tis the White Night Shepparton motto. And while you might earn yourself a few extra degrees in Shepparton, we still recommend you rug up as you explore the town into the early hours of the morn. Heading to Shepp for the first time ever, hosting White Night is quite a coup for our friends up north. Enriched with a celebration of art and culture to showcase Shepparton’s history, the program will feature a plethora of enlightening experiences that pay respect to the past and present, and it’s set to be quite the delight.

Find out more.

Ballarat Winter Festival: June 25 – July 17

Ballarat Winter FestivalThis month-long festival has become a must-do on the annual winter calendar. A family-friendly festival with a whole multitude of events scattered across the city, punters can experience everything from ice-skating in the heart of the CBD to fire jousts at Kryal Castle, a design market to the spectacular Sovereign Hill Winter Wonderlights. This year’s festival will also welcome the highly-anticipated Skywhales balloon sculptures. Created by Australian artist Patricia Piccinini, the monuments will fly over Ballarat on July 9 accompanied by music written by Canberra musician Jess Green.

Take a look at the program here.

GLOW: June 25 – July 17

Bendigo After DarkTaking place as part of Bendigo’s Ignite winter festival, GLOW is a sensory after-dark experience taking place in the city’s Rosalind Park. Produced by local audio-visual specialist Power AV, the showcase celebrates Bendigo through a vibrant display of light, colour and sound with 11 immersive installations and light projections to entertain the entire family.  GLOW is only one facet of the Ignite program, which is packed to the brim with food, fun and frivolities for all ages.

Details here.

Island Whale Festival: July 1 – July 3

Island Whale FestivalAn annual festival that celebrates the whale migration, this three-day extravaganza features a range of activities and educational endeavours spread across the famous Phillip Island. Locals and visitors alike will be able to engage with a range of entertaining activities including a whale discovery trail, dolphin and whale cruises, presentations, and a whole lot of arts and crafts sessions – deepening their appreciation of the wildlife and natural habitats of Phillip Island and the Bass Coast region.

Take a look here.

Yarra Valley Fireside: July 9 – July 24

Yarra Valley FireseideThis 16-day festival is perfectly-suited for those yearning to warm up their bellies this winter season. A delight for all the senses, Yarra Valley Fireside has a firm focus on showcasing the region’s outstanding culinary experiences – celebrating the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the finest locally-produced food and drink. With the festival set against the mesmerising landscape and moody skies of the Yarra Valley, you’ll find yourself cosying up by warming fires as you savour the crisp nights and ever-so-palatable dining experiences.

View the program here.

East Gippsland Winter Festival: June 17 – July 10

East Gippsland Winter FestivalThis winter festival is the perfect way to celebrate the beginning of the season as you embrace all that makes the cooler months so magical. Featuring a wealth of art, fine food and drink, and live music, you’ll find yourself welcomed by friendly locals and creative communities as you discover a whole series of pop-up events, lavish winter feasts, art installations, lantern parades, tours, workshops and much more.  Details here.

Take a look at our Regional Events & Festivals calendar to plan your weekends.


We wish to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.