Words by Tehya Nicholas Map by @alex_hotchin Images Supplied
As the frosty winter months set in, there is nothing like an escape to the countryside for a reset. A place to sit by a roaring fire, cosy up with a steaming mug of coffee and marvel at the stars above. Maybe even indulge in an abundance of local produce and fresh seafood, tag along in a moonlit lantern walk and get creative in a cosy art workshop. All this and more is just a short drive away with the East Gippsland Winter Festival happening across three weeks in June and July.
Kicking off June 19th and wrapping July 11th, the festival will see 86 events – from lavish winter feasts to art installations – pop up across the region. Whether you’re into sampling the finest drop of pinot or getting your hands dirty at a resin workshop, the festival has an event sure to brighten up your winter.
With so much on show, creating an itinerary can be a bit of a struggle. So we went ahead and curated our top seven picks for a winter festival you won’t forget.
Winter Festival and Lane Way Launch
The crowning jewel of the festival has got to be its opener. Set in the favourite Gippsland town of Bairnsdale, this launch is one huge, free afternoon of entertainment. You’ll meet friendly locals, community artists and plenty of out-of-towners as you meander down High street catching all the fun. There’ll be live music, roaming performers, art projects and installations, as well as plenty of local food and wine to get your hands on.
Date: Friday 18th June
Location: 154A Main St, Bairnsdale VIC 3875
Winter Seafood Festival
A little while ago one of the best regional seafood restaurants opened up in Lakes Entrance. Now that restaurant, Sodafish, is hosting a one-day seafood feast for the senses. Chef Nick Mahlook is curating an oyster shucking station, roaming canapés and fine wines to match. Tickets are essential for this one, and we can tell you now it’s going to sell fast.
Dates: Wednesday, 23rd June and Thursday, 01st July
Location: Sodafish, Middle Boat Harbour, The Esplanade, Lakes Entrance
Lakes Light Festival
Make the most of the long winter nights at the Lakes Light Festival, a moonlit walk to the rugged coastline. After months of steady craftsmanship, community members will light up the night with their handmade lanterns and meander from Cunninghame Arm to Lakes edge, where they will be met by local Elders and a lake chorus. There’s even a unicycling lantern- juggler to show you the light sculptures and projections dotted along the shoreline.
Date: 5:30PM Saturday, 26th June
Location: Main Beach Walk, Lakes Entrance VIC 3909
Winter Solstice Fire and Light
On the evening of Winter solstice, guests are invited to gather by the bonfire in Bruthen for a night of sharing stories and entertainment. United by the theme of fire and light, expect fire sculptures, food trucks, Wacky Wombat roving entertainment and later an exciting fire act. Primary school kids from Bruthen and Tambo Upper Primary School, plus little ones from Bruthen Kindergarten and community members will parade their homemade lanterns under the guidance of two experienced artists. Pack a picnic rug, some woollen blankets and cosy up for a spectacular night.
Date: Saturday 19th June
Location: 29 Main St, Bruthen VIC 3885
Resin Art Workshop
Whether you consider yourself creative or not, the gentle art of resin painting is one to soothe the soul. This workshop is guided by professional artists to help you make your very own epoxy resin masterpiece. With a huge range of colours and pigments available, you’ll be whiling away the morning or afternoon with playfulness in the beautiful Saltwater Creative Studio. No experience needed!
Date: Wednesday 23rd June, Saturday 26th June, Saturday 10th July
Location: The Saltwater Creative Co, Marine Parade, Lakes Entrance
World Bathing Day Celebrations
This one is definitely not to be missed. In celebration of World Bathing Day, bright-eyed punters can partake in some sunrise pop-up bathing at the Metung Hot Springs. While soaking up the morning sun, you’ll join the live streamed Global Sound Bath Movement as sites from all over the world capture an Instagram image at the same time to celebrate WBD.
But the good times don’t stop there; at 11am or 4pm there’s a special guided tour of the hot springs (which haven’t even opened to the public yet), followed by some feel-good tree planting and refreshments. Best of all, it’s entirely free.
Date: Tuesday 22nd June
Location: 73 Storth Ryes Ave, Metung VIC 3904
Fire and Rain Exhibition Opening
The Great Alpine Gallery is swinging open its doors for an evening of artistic celebration. In this new exhibit, local artists and makers have been reflecting on cataclysm, regrowth, beauty and vulnerability – themes existing with abundance in the rugged Gippsland region.
Mingle with community members, artists and fellow art-lovers amongst the warm glow of locally crafted lanterns by the Great Alpine Basketry Group, and maybe take a postcard or two home from the gift shop.
Date: Friday 2nd July
Location: Great Alpine Gallery, 6881 Great Alpine Road, Swifts Creek
WHAT: East Gippsland Winter Festival
WHERE: Various venues across East Gippsland
WHEN: June 19th – July 11th, 2021
MORE INFO: East Gippsland Winter Festival