Everything worth seeing, eating and doing at Bendigo’s new three-day festival, Almost Summer

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Everything worth seeing, eating and doing at Bendigo’s new three-day festival, Almost Summer

It’s time to take a road trip to Bendigo - Victoria’s top tourism town and the home of Almost Summer music festival.

The countdown is on for regional Victoria’s newest festival ‘Almost Summer’, the brand-new three-day celebration of warmer days, good times and even better tunes.

Debuting at the very end of Spring, from Friday, November 25 to Sunday, November 27, Almost Summer is bringing along a huge lineup of local artists and burgeoning and established acts from across the country to an outdoor pop-up event space outside the iconic Capital Theatre, in the heart of Bendigo’s View St Arts Precinct.

Stay up to date with all the epic events happening in and around the region here.

We’ve put together a little guide of what is on offer.

Getting to Bendigo

If you are travelling by car, Bendigo is a comfortable two and a half hours north of Geelong, just around two hours north-west if you’re coming from Melbourne, and an easy 90 minutes if you’re coming from Ballarat. With an easy drive down the highway, Bendigo is perfect for rounding up the crew and making it a road trip. Just remember to prepare the pump-up playlist before you go.

It’s also pretty easy to catch the train to Bendigo – the V/Line express service is just over 90 minutes from Melbourne Southern Cross Station, and the Bendigo Railway Station is just a few minutes walk into the city centre. Just hit up the V/Line website find out information on departure times.

If you’re travelling from out of state, direct flights to Bendigo are available from Sydney via Qantas.

It’s all about the music

Created by Melbourne creative agency Hear Them Holler and announced as part of Always Live, there will be 16 acts gracing the new open-air stage, ranging from squelchy pop-disco and wistful folk to alt-country and new-school RnB, providing an expansive experience for every kind of music lover.


As the sun begins to set on the final Friday of November, the festival will kick off on Friday at 5pm with a Welcome to Country and Smoking ceremony, paying respects to the Dja Dja Wurrung traditional owners before Yorta Yorta Dja Dja Wurrung singer songwriter Carissa Nyalu takes the stage to open the inaugural festival.

Friday nighters will be wowed by former Snakadaktal lead singer and songwriter, Phoebe Lou, who’s most recent solo project Phoebe Go was a highlight of Bigsound and Triple J says of her latest project “be warned, it could break you”.

Also taking to the Friday night stage will be South Sudanese rapper, songwriter, composer and producer Pookie, who will bring her powerful stories to the stage with force and passion followed by rising Australiana folk-artist Suzi, who’s honest and relatable lyrics, will disarm even the toughest of critics.

With the music taken care of for the first night, DJ and MC duties will be in the reliable hands of Melbourne’s most exuberant human buzzing about the music industry, jack of all trades DJ Joey Lightbulb from 5pm until the last person is being ushered off the event site.


Grab your coffee and croissant at a reasonable hour on Saturday and mosey on down to the city centre, because doors open at 11am with Triple J’s Pip Rasmussen on MC and DJ duties.

Kicking off what has been forecasted for a sunny Saturday are local favorites in Aplegate, a five-piece Castlemaine-born and bred improvised psychedelic rock band, followed by Melbourne psych/pop disco outfit Sunfruits.

Indie-guitar pop artist Geoffrey O’Conner (Sly Hats, The Crayon Fields) will be next to take to the stage, performing his solo work, following up from his most recent release after a seven-year hiatus.

Next up is emerging dreamy offbeat Freeds who blends hip-hop storytelling with catchy pop that projects an optimism to shake off any dark spell. As the sun sets over Dudley House, right of stage, Melbourne psychedelic five-piece Bananagun will bring their unique blend 60s and 70s afrobeat and exotica to Fela Kuti-esque repetition, rhythmic fury of The Monks and grooves of Os Mutantes, creating a lost world of exoticism to the lucky audiences of Almost Summer

All-female festival headliners Kardajala Kirridarra will grace the stage for their Bendigo debut for this very special intimate performance having received rotation on Triple J in 2017 with their single ‘Ngurra’ (Rain Song), marking over four years since their last Melbourne appearance. Honouring language, culture and family with songs inspired by country, it was no small feat to bring this very special act to regional Victoria for their first ever performance on Dja Dja Wurrung country, coming all the way from the sandhills behind the community of Malinja, NT.

Saturday’s programming comes to a close with no other than driving 80’s electronica legends Black Cab who’s most recent release, ‘Rostler’s Rules’, was described by music journalist Bernard Zuel as “a record to dance to” so yes, audiences will get a chance to shake out their cobwebs with bars open until late.


With enough time to catch up on beauty sleep and fuel up on a big breaky, the final day kicks off at 11am on Sunday with Pip Rasmussen back as MC and PBS’s Headhunters announcer DJ Friday mixing it up on the decks between sets.

Soundtracking the final Sunday of Spring and the last day of Almost Summer, Castlemaine native singer/songwriter Nadia Phillips is up first, and keeping things local, next up is proud young and queer Bendigo gal Flora brings her seven-piece band to the stage with their mix of progressive alt-country and indie pop.

Alt/country singer-songwriter, and much loved ‘voice of her generation’ Gabriella Cohen will woo you with her four-part harmonies and effortless rock n’roll style while the blending 70’s grooves and sunshine pop of Aussie/English outfit Greatest Hits will evoke a sway out of even the least rhythmically inclined.

With the sun fully set, It’s almost time to head home, but not before indie pop alt-country six-piece legends Cool Sounds present their unique blend of 80’s pop, cheerful funk and disco sounds to the lucky people with us until the end, with traveller still able to make it back home before dark.

Further Festival Fun

The vibes will be high at this family-friendly festival, especially with all the glittering extras the festival will provide punters with.

Alongside the epic lineup, there’ll also be locally sourced liquid refreshments and food available, as well as summer fruits and creamy cool ice-creams and icy-poles on offer to keep your dance energy levels at an optimum.

And if you’re looking to add to your vinyl collection and support the artists on the bill, Bendigo Vinyl will host a pop-up record store throughout the event.

Better still, Almost Summer will be capped at 500 tickets per day, offering a cosy, intimate and boutique festival. Say sayonara to long toilet lines and pushy crowds. A full festival pass can be purchased for $150, or single-day tickets will be available ranging from $42 – $82.

Where to Stay

Previously only known as the hub of Victoria’s gold rush, the regional city of Bendigo has carved itself a strong reputation in recent years as being a centre for food, bars, art galleries and natural treasures, and as such, offers several accommodation options for your weekend away. Whether you’re after unique, convenient or luxurious, there’s something suited to everyone.

If you like to keep it simple, the Big4 Bendigo Ascot Holiday Park is a winner, providing loads of camping and caravan space to festival punters. Nestled in a rural setting off the main highway close to the centre of Bendigo and all its attractions, the 4-star park provides a safe, relaxing and friendly atmosphere for all. With family-sized deluxe Units that are fully self-contained to unpowered sites, there’s an option for every kind of budget and lifestyle choice.

If a holiday park isn’t quite your thing, we recommend checking out Airbnb where you’ll find a range of different private rooms, entire houses, cottages and apartments that are still available for that weekend. It’s best to get in early though! From a stunning ‘Queen’s Cottage’ to a NY-style apartment in the heart of the city, there’s plenty of fun and unique options to explore.

There’s a generous collection of motels and hotels across the city, and if luxurious hotel accommodation is your style, there are many fine options to choose from. The Quest Hotel and the All Seasons Resort are both fine options, however, if you’re looking for grandeur you can’t go past the new Bendigo Ernest Hotel. Housed in the oldest bank, Bendigo Ernest Hotel is an immersive experience that combines historic opulence with modern features. Boasting individualised suites, each room is adorned with alluring Australian art and swept with contemporary aesthetics, luxurious bedding, and designer furnishings, combining to forge a memorable and bespoke stay, all within a short walk from the festival site.

If your comfort levels sit somewhere between camping and luxury hotels, glamping under the stars at Balgownie winery and vineyards is the one way to top an already stellar weekend away.


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While you’re there, explore the best of the region

Almost Summer is set in the heart of Bendigo’s View Street arts precinct where you will find Bendigo’s famous art Gallery, a string of local boutiques, restaurants, bars and cafes as well as the stunning Rosalind Park – all within two minutes walking distance from the Almost Summer Music Festival site.

Whilst in Bendigo, make sure you hop aboard Bendigo’s Heritage Trams, where you’ll be wowed by the wide streetscapes and grand architecture of Bendigo as your tram shares entertaining stories about the city founded on one of the world’s richest goldfields. Then take time out to discover Chinese culture at the Golden Dragon Museum, go underground at the Central Deborah Gold Mine, try wheel throwing at the Bendigo Pottery and treat yourself to laneway shopping in some of Bendigo’s most modest spaces.

Don’t leave without experiencing the latest Bendigo Art Gallery exhibition, and if you’re lucky you’ll still be able to witness the garden beds of Bendigo exploding into a sea of colour as the city’s favourite flower blooms. If you’re feeling adventurous, go for a hike in the beautiful Bendigo National Park or head out for an early morning picnic at one of the many manicured parks and gardens or in the surrounds of Lake Weeroona before the festival.


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With all the dancing and exploring to do across the weekend, you’re going to want to fuel up with the best. Start your days with breakfast at local greengrocer, deli and cafe Edwards Providore; check out Ghosty Toasty, which serves toasties out of a classic camera shop and photographic lab; or indulge in specialty coffee with Cortille Cafe, a spot that would rival even the best Melbourne cafes.

While you’re there, it’s worth making time to discover the quaint contemporary eateries in old corner shops and restaurants tucked away in European-inspired laneways. The award-winning Masons of Bendigo is the place to go to taste a roaming menu of local produce, while The Woodhouse is where you can smell the delicious smokiness of Bendigo’s only Redgum char-grill and dedicated steak house.

Bendigo’s favourite old-timey local The Rifle is the place to go if you’re chasing sensational, relaxing drinks with great service and good hearty meals, much like the Cambrian Hotel where the vibes are cosy and the beer garden is always busy.

For a more relaxed but no less indulgent experience, Nimbus Rooftop Bar brings the Melbourne bar class to town, while Ms Batterhams is a sophisticated hidden gem within the arts precinct of Bendigo. Handle Bar specialises in providing the very best of the craft beer world, Wine Bank On View brings a global spread of wines to regional Victoria, and if you’re looking for a girl’s night out, Miss Molly, is an Instagrammer’s dream with Palm Springs, cocktails, pink, neon beach vibes and a whole lotta fun!

Enticing, accessible and cool in the shade, it’s Almost Summer.

Almost Summer takes to Bendigo from November 25 – November 27 2022. For ticket info, head to the website. 

Almost Summer is presented by Hear Them Holler, Always Live and supported by the City of Greater Bendigo