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3 days in Ballarat’s winter wonderland

This July, Ballarat will come to life as part of the inaugural Ballarat Winter Festival with more than 40 events held throughout the city in celebration of winter.

By Della Vreeland
Published: 10 July, 2017

Each July, Ballarat gets warm and cosy in celebration of the cool change with a month-long winter festival.

Soverign Hill pulls out all the stops in a Christmas in July celebration (for those who have ever wanted to experience a white Christmas!), plus ice-skating, a visit with the penguins and warm winter soul food will complete your winter weekend in Ballarat. 

Day 1: Sovereign Hill Winter Wonderlights: Christmas in July

Sovereign Hill Winter Wonderlights, Ballarat, Victoria

Drive to Sovereign Hill for the Christmas in July celebrations. During the day, Sovereign Hill’s iconic township will evoke a sense of old-world wonder and yuletide feels. 

Take a stroll down Main Street as snow-flakes fall over the Victorian-style buildings, decorations fill the window displays, the smell of Christmas treats and spices fill the air, and traditional Christmas-themed pantomimes are performed. If you’re up for a challenge, try and catch the Gingerbread Man as he mischievously plots his escape from the hungry visitors.

By night, watch Sovereign Hill’s Main Street sparkles as more than 20 of the attraction’s buildings light up with large-scale image projections and Christmas animations. Set to Christmas-themed music, this year’s show will be bigger and brighter than ever before, evoking the spirit and enchantment of Christmas.

There are also plenty of food options at Sovereign Hill, but for a delicious experience, visit the New York Bakery and try one of their award winning pastries.

Day 2: A hub of winter wonder

Ice skating, Ballarat, Victoria

Take to real ice in the heart of the CBD at the pop-up ice-skating rink. Open every day between July 1 and July 16.

Following the ice-skating experience, head across the road to the winter hub and explore the Antarctic activities. Test out your bravery on the giant inflatable slide, explore the mysteries of the frozen forest, enjoy the winter experience in the snow globe or find some refuge from the elements in the inflatable igloo.

Drive out to the Ballarat Wildlife Park and watch the little penguins as they swim around in their new underwater viewing deck. After you’ve admired these happy little feet, get up-close-and-personal with koalas, kangaroos and crocs. Meet the beautiful Alpine dingoes, roast marshmallows in the fire pits, and warm up in the Bushman’s Hut.

Day 3: Food and wine to warm your soul

Athletic Club Brewery, Ballarat, Victoria

Ballarat is fast becoming a mecca for craft beer, fine food and award-winning wine sourced from the surrounding Pyrenees wine region. So, during your Ballarat visit, make sure to explore all the culinary delights that await including the city’s ever-growing café scene and craft beer offering.

Start off with a wholesome brunch and premium coffee at one of the prized cafes such as Webster’s Market and Café or The Local. Hit up Little Bird for a vintage diner experience with a difference or Yellow Espresso for one of their renowned souvlaki’s.

There’s a reason Ballarat is becoming known as the craft beer capital of Australia. The city is home to craft beer breweries and bars including Athletic ClubRed Duck Brewery, and Cubby Haus. Make sure to enquire about brewery tours upon your visit.

The city is also renowned for its brew food and gastro pub options. Beer halls and pubs the likes of Hop Temple and The Mallow are much-loved local favourites that are sure to round up your winter visit.

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