Melbourne isn’t the only place turning up the heat this winter.
While a laundry list of A-plus festivals, exhibitions and events – like Rising and The Picasso Century – have made the icy onslaught a bit more bearable in the CBD, some just-as-exciting things are happening beyond city limits in Victoria’s regional hubs.
So, if you’re looking for an activity-filled winter weekender – or something to do with the kids during school holidays – there are spectacular light installations, fleeting art shows and winter food markets worth travelling for. Here are five of the best.
White Night Shepparton, June 25
You’ve heard of White Night Melbourne, but this year the festival is making its debut in Shepparton with an impressive line-up of art, food and music – for one night only. Vaughan Street will be closed for the globetrotting Culture Kitchen Night Market, with dishes inspired by the Philippines, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, the South Pacific and more. Meanwhile, Lake Victoria will be illuminated by giant, glowing lotus flowers, and a cascading soap-bubble sculpture featured in Melbourne’s first White Night in 2013 will also be in display. Plus, there’ll be a sculptural light installation by Kaiela Arts Shepparton – an initiative supporting local Aboriginal artists and celebrating community. Lights will create shadows over the surrounding landscape while artists Tori Day, Tahnee Day and Dylan Charles share stories from the Yorta Yorta nation.
Moama Lights, July 31 to August 21
Immerse yourself in nature at Moama’s well-known wetland and floodplain reserve, Horseshoe Lagoon, at this winter event – curated by production and lighting-design company Mandylights. The distinctive light and sound trail will follow illuminated Murray River red gums through the natural bushland, where you’ll also find a field covered in thousands of glowing, native flowers. At the end of the trail, an epic closing light show will see the river transform into a body of vibrant colours. Make a weekend out of it and visit popular nearby spots while you’re in the area, such as the silo art trail. Or you can even hit the road and travel a little further to Cactus Country.
Borealis on the Lake, July 15 to September 4
Thanks to Switzerland-based artist Dan Acher, you no longer need to travel across the world to see the northern lights. Well, sort of. This winter, a mesmerising light installation will drop a version of the natural phenomenon – aurora borealis – in Victorian spa country: Daylesford. Laser beams and theatrical auroras will be projected over Lake Daylesford, while a gentle soundtrack will encourage full immersion into the fleeting experience. Rug up and settle in next to the lake for a captivating night of light and sound, with a stacked line-up of food and drink vendors still to be announced.
Winterwild, August 12 to 14, and 26 to 28
Boundaries and judgements should be set aside at the annual Winterwild Festival in the Otways – an out-of-the-box, multidisciplinary arts, food and music experience. Across two action-packed weekends this August, there’ll be high-octane live performances from the likes of Amyl and the Sniffers, Emma Donovan and the Putbacks, Cash Savage and the Last Drinks, ORB, Kee’ahn, and Leah Senior and Floodlights. Plus, a wild feast of seafood caught from the foreshore of Apollo Bay will be cooked over hibachi grills, cauldrons and open flames. Other activities include beachside bonfires you can dance alongside, an ominous outdoor performance called The Dogwatch, cemetery tours, group somatic sound walks, cold-water plunging at sunrise, healing workshops, seaside yoga and a late-night ocean polo match illuminated by balls of light.
East Gippsland Winter Festival, June 17 to July 10
A throng of events make up this three-week festival. Fire and Ice at the Metung Village Green kicks things off with live music, warming winter food, late-night shopping, a lakeside lantern parade, and a fire and ice show. Other highlights of the program include a sunrise bathing experience at the soon-to-open Metung Hot Springs; an exhibition of artist-made lamps; and a culmination of art, craft beer, barbeque and eclectic tunes at the vibrant Laneway 3875 in Bairnsdale’s city centre. A range of classes and workshops are also on the cards, such as a sourdough-making crash course, a two-hour “alcohol ink” workshop, a chocolate-and-wine masterclass, and a free lantern-making workshop for the various lantern parades occurring throughout the festival.