This year’s chilly season sees the return of the East Gippsland Winter Festival. Through a novel blend of entertainment and recreation, the winter festival creatively celebrates the region through art, family activities and events, wine, craft beer, local produce and live music. Multiple activities and performances are expected for the 2022 festival, including pop-up events, lantern parades, walking tours, workshops and art installations. Take advantage of the long winter nights and rediscover Gippsland’s hospitality against the backdrop of its breathtakingly diverse landscapes.
The East Gippsland Winter Festival takes place between 17 June–10 July 2022, with plenty of time and opportunity to participate and celebrate at your leisure. What makes this festival unique is its impressive collaborative efforts to bring Australians an enriching, quality experience. By working closely with Gipplandian businesses, communities and councils, the festival organisers have curated a one-of-a-kind affair that is engaging and inspiring to all age groups.
Various towns, such as Bairnsdale, Mallacoota and Lakes Entrance, are hosting events, pop-ups and epicurean taste adventures simultaneously over the three-week-long festivities. Fortunately the festival period includes the last two weeks of the winter school holidays, turning day trips into overnight stays - a tempting and practical option for families.
Here are some highlights from the winter festival lineup:
Lantern making workshop
The beauty of glowing lanterns against the dark winter night is a delightful sight. Kids can sign up to learn how to make their own lanterns from scratch with Tracy, the patient and fantastic workshop coordinator. Parents and grandparents can share in the excitement and are welcome to watch as the workshop is in session and admire the lantern installations together at the end.
The walking festival
Tease your observer skills through creative artwork. Immerse yourself in Gippsland’s natural environment together with an epic display of light and sound organised by Lichen Kelp. Kelp is a performance chemist and sculptor. She includes sound, assemblage, observation and submersion with local floral elements to create an other-worldly experience that goes beyond the imagination. Dylan Martorell, a musician who creates music using the patterns and shapes of plants, exhibits an equally unique augmented reality walk incorporating never-heard-before sounds derived from the patterns of plants.
Ocean Grange & Sailors Grave Lunch
Connect with family and friends over a lavish lunch hosted at the Ocean Grange homestead. Ocean Grange is an off-the-grid beach house, nestled between the Ninety Mile Beach and the Gippsland Lakes and it is only accessible by boat. This exclusive venue is paired with an authentic lunch menu, which includes dishes prepared using locally sourced ingredients and a choice of artisanal beer brewed by none other than Sailors Grave. Their craft beers are made as an expression of the region’s agricultural and maritime history. Lunch is hosted for a limited number of guests once a day, for the entire duration of the East Gippsland Winter Festival. Book your lunch tickets early to avoid disappointment.
Metung Fire & Ice event
The Metung Fire & Ice event returns to the Village Green this year. Watch in wonder as ice sculptures are carved right before your eyes by talented and daring artists. The fire twirling performances alongside the ice sculptures create a beautiful spectacle.
La Riva lavish lunch
La Riva is a luxurious Mediterranean-styled accommodation built on seven acres of garden and overlooks the magnificent lakes in Gippsland. They are hosting a series of tantalising dinners, carefully crafted by a private chef especially for the East Gippsland Winter Festival – marking another fantastic opportunity to spend quality time with your family and friends. Garden Open Days are showcasing ice sculptures in La Riva’s manicured gardens.
Born in a Taxi theatre performance
The roving performances of Born in a Taxi are known for their spectacular visual aesthetic, masterful improv skills and meaningful non-verbal engagement with audiences all over the world. For the winter festival, Born in a Taxi is conducting an improvisation workshop in Bruthen and delivering the performance in a different town of East Gippsland.
Kayaking on Lake Tyers
Another one for the kids: Up The Creek Melbourne is hosting kayak tours at Lake Tyers. The lake has shallow and calm waters, which is perfect for both kayaking and children. Kayaking adventures with Up The Creek Mountain offers kids a fun way to reconnect with nature and appreciate its worth.
“It’s Gippsland’s natural beauty, outstanding experiences and life-changing moments that inspire the world to visit,” says Nicholas King, spokesperson for Destination Gippsland. East Gippsland is commonly understood as being the richest part of Gippsland; rich in heritage, rich culture and rich in vibrance. Recreational activities are abundant too, making it a wholesome holiday experience.
There are plenty of things to do in East Gippsland and many reasons to visit. Here are four main things this region is known for: award-winning eateries, wineries and craft beers, diversity of landscapes and Gippsland’s indigenous culture and heritage.
Following the devastating bushfires in 2019-2020, which consumed 1.1 million hectares of land in East Gippsland, efforts to support the region’s recovery continue until today. One form of economic support is through regenerative tourism in Gippsland.
Regenerative tourism helps lessen the negative impact that travel can have on environments and local communities. Adam Bloem, event organiser for the East Gippsland Winter Festival, encapsulates their sustainable tourism efforts in three words: collaborate, regenerate and celebrate, adding: “It [the festival] gives people that platform which encourages them to collaborate; the artist teaming up with the local winery. And regenerate [the region] economically, socially and environmentally. Celebrate is [about] celebrating and showcasing the talent that we have in East Gippsland, the beautiful places and the produce as well. Award-winning food, wine and beer.”
When attending the winter festival this year, consider booking your stay through Wayfairfer, a community-owned platform to book accommodation. Wayfairer gives back 50% of its booking fees to the local regions for reinvestment. By reserving your East Gippsland holiday accommodation through this platform, your contribution can have ripple effects on its local economy through job creation, growth and social wealth building, among other benefits.
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Each town appeals to different travellers for a variety of purposes, which is yet another reason why the winter festival is unique: no two locations in East Gippsland offer an identical experience, food or activity. When it comes to accommodation, there’s a variety of options peppered across Gippsland’s towns, which cater to couples, families, groups of friends and families travelling together, along with solo travellers.
Bairnsdale is the largest city in East Gippsland and is located at the mouth of the Mitchell River on Lake King lagoon. This family-friendly city has it all: hotels, motels, cabins and apartments, plus camp and caravan sites.
The coastal town of Lakes Entrance needs no introduction. This popular town is family-friendly too with plenty of accommodation, such as motels, camping and caravan parks, cabins and apartments.
This historic town is located between Lakes Entrance and Cann River. There are a select few accommodation options to choose from, which includes motels, apartments, lodges, cabins and holiday homes.
A charming holiday town that’s surrounded by three lakes and a canal, Paynesville has a range of wonderful hotels, apartments, resorts and holiday homes, with luxury and pocket-friendly options available.
This small village lies in the heart of the Gippsland Lakes. The accommodation stays are well-suited for small families and romantic getaways. Take your pick from boutique hotels, high-end B&Bs, luxury apartments, fancy holiday houses and more.
Mallacoota is a popular fishing town with Victoria’s warmest winter temperatures. Pick your lodging from a selection of apartments, lodges, motels, cottages, B&Bs, cabins or bring along your home on wheels for the caravan park.
Explore more East Gippsland towns, accommodation options and fun activities through Wayfairer.
[Insert an image of people attending East Gippsland Winter Festival in 2021, supplied by Adam & Andrea. Include an image caption that explains what the image conveys.]
East Gippsland is an impressionable region with untapped potential that’s ready to become a hub of activity all year round. The winter festival pieces together unique experiences by selecting the best of the local food and wine, showcasing various creative art forms, honouring the region’s natural beauty and supporting Gippslandian communities in countless ways. Head over to the East Gippsland Winter Festival website to book your tickets, discover and reserve your ideal accommodation at Wayfairer, then layer up and prepare for a winter festival like no other.