Founded in 1991, the Grampians Grape Escape festival is attended by around 10,000 people each year who graze their way through some of the region’s finest wines, fine food and produce.
Here you can meet celebrity chefs; discover culinary secrets; enjoy two days of live bands; embrace your inner food floozy with exhibitor tastings and festival food trucks; let the kids make a mess in the Little Foodies Marquee and support the best food, wine, beer and cider artisans in the region…
We came up with a quick guide to prepare you for this regional treasure.
Well removed from the hustle and bustle of city locations, Grampians Grape Escape takes place at the Halls Gap Recreation Reserve, surrounded by the majestic mountain ranges of the Grampians. With stunning views, nature and wildlife a plenty, getting there is half the fun!
If you’re travelling by car, it’s a stunning 3-hour drive from Melbourne and Geelong, and only 1.5 hours from Ballarat. With an iconic scenic route on offer, getting there will be half the fun!
If you’re not up for the drive, Regional Day Transfers, Christians Bus Co will run a daily bus service from Regional surrounding townships, including: Ararat, Stawell, Moyston, Pomonal, Horsham, St Arnaud, Dunkeld and Warrnambool. You can also catch the V/Line train service as a last resort, however there’s a few stops and changes so you will want to do some pre-planning!
As for when you’re there, You Can Do Coach Tours will run a shuttle bus service around Halls Gap from 4pm on Friday until Sunday evening. The cost is $5 per person, per trip – and bookings can be made by calling 0499 598 638.
What to see
It’s all about the wine and food here; with more than 100 stalls from all parts of the world with delicious gourmet food and authentic Aussie wines, festival goers can relish the very best wines from the Grampians region, taste their way through dozens of craft beer and cider stalls and shop up with local producers and makers.
Grampians Grape Escape will also be brimming with quality festival food trucks. With variety to satisfy all members of your party, devour a croquette burger, demolish Spanish Paella or try a festival favourite, Forge Pizza. Finish up with a delightfully naughty crème brûlée, or the deliciousness of a glazed donut matched with a strong coffee to get you through the day… after all, this food frenzy is thirsty work.
The newest highlights of the event include breakfast with the celebrity chefs, a Moulin Rouge festival dinner and this year, they are teaming up with chef and host of the popular TV series River Cottage Australia, Paul West, PLUS one of MasterChef AU’s most loved contestants and friendly face of channel 10’s TV hit The Cooks Pantry, Matt Sinclair, for masterclasses and cooking demonstrations using the finest local and seasonal produce.
The best part? This event is family-friendly with plenty of mess and outdoor fun for your little foodies. While mums and dads enjoy the wine and beats, kids can pet native animals, paint a boomerang, or become pros at potting herbs. Sunday is funday with extra little foodie kids’ activities including a rock-climbing wall.
Enjoy the music
The great thing about Grampians Grape Escape is that it’s not just a celebration of wine and food talent, but also national and local music talent. Uncover your new favourite artist or sing with your mates to a well-known cover. These good vibes will make the perfect accompaniment to a chilled festival weekend.
On Saturday May 5, you can enjoy the sweet sounds from Coby Grant, Nick Charles, Stringybark Mcdowell & Mollycoddle, Wanderers, Madhouse and The Settlement, while Sunday on May 6 you can kick back to the sounds of Welcome To Country, Alice Skye, Grim Fawkner, Mitch King, The Kite Machine and Orange Whip.
Where to stay
Rediscover your love of the Grampians National Park and home to many award-winning wineries by extending your festival weekend to hike, admire the nature and wildlife, learn about indigenous culture and much more. The entire Grampians region boasts over 5,000 beds available to accommodate the popular tourist destination.
Halls Gap does book out quickly over the festival weekend, however never fear as there are many surrounding towns to discover such as Great Western, Ararat, Buangor, Moyston and Stawell. Once you find a place to stay, all you have to do is simply catch the GGE festival bus. Check out your options at www.visitgrampians.com.au or call the Halls Gap Information Centre on 1800 065 599.
Go on, you know you want to…
In this natural oasis within the Grampians, indulge your senses by trying out some of the many fine food varieties from all over the world. Pair this with some top-quality wine, maybe take a cooking class or two, and make the Grampians Grape Escape one of the best events of the year!
Each ticket to this iconic festival provides access to the festival village with plenty to eat, drink and do. Tasting tickets come with a souvenir glass, enviro bag and free tastings until 4pm each day. They start from just $55 per day and General admission is also available. Both are available as a day or weekend ticket and there’s also the option of accommodation and ticket packages available via the website. Check it all out at grampiansgrapeescape.com.au/buy-tickets//.
When & Where: Halls Gap Recreation Reserve, Halls Gap – May 5 & 6.