Award-winning Heritage Festival returns to Ballarat this May with food festival, Tweed ride and beard comp

Award-winning Heritage Festival returns to Ballarat this May with food festival, Tweed ride and beard comp

2021 Tweed Bike Ride finalists out the front of Ballarat Town Hall

After taking out top honours in both the 2021 Australian and Victoria tourism awards, the week-long festival is back, guaranteeing an excellent time for all.

There’s no town quite like Ballarat, and the annual Heritage Festival is back again to prove it.

For over a decade now, Ballarat Heritage Festival has been delivering an immersive, engaging and fascinating experience for visitors in a way to go beyond the surface with big beards, bike rides, lost trades, traditional crafts, walking tours, and steam trains, and more. With a storied history and incredible streetscapes, Ballarat is an exciting place to explore and from Saturday 21 May to Sunday 29 May, this event delicately intertwines the past and present to create a unique offering unlike any other.

Stay up to date with what’s happening in and around the region here

By the end of this weekend, visitors will leave the city having loved everything about it, from its epic laneways, authentic stories and local creatives, to the amazing chefs, winemakers, and brewers who use the best produce our region has to offer.

We’ve highlighted some of the events from the fiery, action-packed week, one that recently took out top honours in the ‘Festivals and Events’ category at both the 2021 Qantas Australian Tourism Awards and the 2021 Victorian Tourism Awards, and the 2022 festival is certainly not resting on its laurels.

The Food Edit Saturday 21 May– Sunday 29 May

This is a brand-new event for the well-loved festival.

Experience fabulous dining all festival long at venues throughout the city, from an intimate cocktail event at Johnny Alloo, wine and cheese workshops at Mitchell Harris Wines, gin and cheese pairing masterclass at Kilderkin Distillery and much more. Knead to try your hand at sourdough bread baking, or dive into dumpling-making – book into a workshop to get tips and advice from an expert. Full details will be coming soon.

Ballarat Tweed Ride: Saturday 21 May

A regular highlight for the weekend includes The Tweed Ride held on Sunday, May 21. This immersive and unique experience is unlike anything else. Dress in your best dapper and elegant tweed, ride through Ballarat’s historic and picturesque autumn streets and listen to some of the amazing stories that the city’s unique and iconic architecture holds.

Not only will you get to enjoy all the different vintage attire, but you’ll also find a variety of bikes from penny farthings, modern racing bikes, to decorated bikes, vintage bikes and shearing bikes. It’s the perfect excuse to get involved in something a little different! There will even be awards for the best-dressed riders and spectators, so get creative!

Beard & Stache Competition: Saturday 28 May

As part of The Ballarat Heritage Weekend, the esteemed Ballarat Beard and Stache Competition is back at Hop Temple on Saturday, giving people that chance to enjoy some spectacular staches and beards, celebrating all kinds of facial hair.

You can enter your stach-tacular beards in any applicable category. Think moustache, full beard, partial beard or the verdi (an impeccably groomed beard style). There is also a “just for fun category,” where you can play around with fake beards or freestylers. Even the ladies can get involved. With free entry and more than $1000 in cash and prizes up for grabs, you’d be mad not to get around it. Shave your if’s and but’s for later. Even if beards aren’t your thing, this event will definitely have them grow on you.

Hosted at Hop Temple, this event promises good food, good beer and good beards.

Craft Lab: Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 May, Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 May

This two-weekend event showcases heritage trades, fine arts, traditional practices, cultural rituals, lost skills and contemporary practice combined. Meet makers and crafters eager to share their skills in weaving, cremains, natural dyeing, knife making, silverwork, musical instrument crafting, upholstery, and traditional First Nations crafts. Workshops with local practitioners are scheduled throughout the week.

Steam Train Shuttles: Saturday 21, Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 May

From Ballarat Station, Steamrail Victoria will be operating two vintage steam locomotives.

The route heads off up the hill towards Melbourne, before branching onto the old line towards Geelong, for a scenic return ride towards the town of Lal Lal. From there, the second locomotive will take over to complete the one-hour return journey back to the Station. Passengers can soak up the atmosphere, experiencing ‘old-school’ air-con with the windows open in heritage wooden carriages dating back to 1906.

Self-Guided Digital Heritage Tours: everyday

Self-guided augmented reality walks via a QR code will encourage visitors to explore 10 of Ballarat’s most fascinating historical landmarks.  Best done with an accompanying audio tour, the tour experience includes compelling stories from various perspectives, and quirky facts about each location.

These are only some examples of the huge selection of events on that weekend, so definitely jump on their website and suss out which events would suit you the best. Ballarat Heritage Weekend is presented by the City of Ballarat and is held over May 21 – 29.