Ballarat Heritage Festival returns in May with candlelight concerts, iconic Tweed ride and beard comp

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Ballarat Heritage Festival returns in May with candlelight concerts, iconic Tweed ride and beard comp

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

Ballarat is getting ready to wind back the clock for the latest instalment of the award-winning Ballarat Heritage Festival, 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 Friday 19 May to Sunday 28 May, this 10-day 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

A fascinating festival to put the city’s rich heritage, unique stories and vibrant creative community front and centre, by the end of the festival, 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.

This year, there will be more than 50 events delivered, with the City of Ballarat working closely with many diverse community groups from across the city.

Ballarat Heritage Festival 2023 program highlights include:

Candlelight Concerts | Friday 26 May

Experience some of the greatest pieces of film music of the modern era in the candlelit Ballarat Civic Hall. Thousands of candles create the atmosphere as the orchestra captivate you with scores from Hans Zimmer, John Williamson and more. Experience The Lion King, Star Wars, and many more in this amazing atmosphere.

Craft Lab 23 | Saturday 20 May and Sunday 21 May, Saturday 27 May and Sunday 28 May.

Now in its third year, Craft Lab is a celebration of traditional artisanal skills coupled with a contemporary flair. Over four days, 17 carefully selected practitioners from across the Ballarat region will share their knowledge and techniques, showcasing some of the best crafts and design items produced locally.

From upholsterers to spinners, shoemakers to armory makers, wild weavers to eco-dyers, visitors can get up close to see, touch and feel the different crafts from the practitioners themselves. There will also be opportunities for visitors to take part in talks, demonstrations and workshops where they can try their hand at their own crafts with the support and guidance from experts.

The Great Takeaway | Thursday 25 May

The Great Takeaway is a chance for visitors to dine amongst some of the finest materials, textiles, glassware and ceramics produced in the Ballarat region – and then be able to take the handcrafted materials home with them.

A ticketed event, the Great Takeaway is an exclusively tailored dinner for up to 60 guests who will be seated in the exhibition display of Craft Lab in the heritage venue of the Mining Exchange to enjoy a three-course meal with drinks and entertainment.

Ballarat Antique Fair | Friday 19 May to Sunday 21 May

Make your way to one of Ballarat’s classic art deco buildings to pick-up one-off heirlooms, period pieces and collector’s items.

To be held at Civic Hall, you will be able to browse more than 26 antique dealers selling a variety of beautiful, delicate and interesting pieces – from jewellery to furniture; artwork to ceramics; silverware to linen, and objet d’art.

Ballarat Tweed Ride | Saturday 20 May

Ballarat’s iconic Tweed Ride returns! Take a unique ride through Ballarat’s historic and picturesque autumn streets in high style.

A casual event of fashion, cycling and fun, riders dress in vintage and heritage-inspired outfits wearing tweeds, velvets, capes and kilts. With all types of bikes welcome, keep an eye out for some of the quirkiest cycle styles.

Heritage Harvest Weekend | Saturday 27 May to Sunday 28 May

Join Sovereign Hill for a big weekend celebrating autumn harvest, growing seasonal food in abundance, and preserving it through age-old practices brought to Australia from around the world.

Discover the flavors of autumn with a specially curated food and producers’ market, explore your foodie passion or discover new ones in a series of exclusive culinary workshops or ignite the imagination of your little ones, through interactive play in the Little Explorers zone.

Beard & Stache Competition: Saturday 27 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.

About 20,000 attendees are expected to attend the festival, which last year won bronze at the Victorian Tourism Awards in the Festivals and Events Category.

For full details on all of the events or to book tickets for events that are likely to sell out, visit the Ballarat Heritage Festival website