Ballarat Winter Festival to heat up the school holidays

Ballarat Winter Festival launch with Ballarat Mayor, Cr Des Hudson representatives from Ballarat Wildlife, Kryal Castle and Sovereign Hill.

The weather is getting colder but the atmosphere in Ballarat is about to heat up as the Ballarat Winter Festival comes to town.  

The much-loved festival returns this year, with people encouraged to don their winter woollies and embrace the weather as Ballarat is transformed into a winter wonderland.  

The festival runs from Saturday 24 June to Sunday 16 July with a myriad of winter-themed events, activities and entertainment to warm hearts, souls and bellies.  

It will run over the two weeks of Victoria’s school holidays and the first week of the South Australian school holidays.  

Last year the Ballarat Winter Festival contributed an estimated $1.5 million to the Ballarat economy.

Whether it is strapping on the skates to hit the ice in Armstrong Street, being dazzled by the lights at Sovereign Hill or seeing a spectacular fire jousting competition at Kryal Castle there is certainly something to thrill the whole family.  

Also on the agenda will be the chance to catch a glimpse of the Ballarat Wildlife Park’s newest tiger, The Design Exchange market at the Mining Exchange and a live music festival that takes place in venues and unused spaces across the city, Be_Hear/Now.  

Ballarat Winter Festival will also feature a number of special food and drink experiences, show-stopping performances and insightful workshops and demonstrations.  

City of Ballarat Mayor, Cr Des Hudson said the event would build on the recent successes of the Ballarat Heritage Festival and the Ballarat Begonia Festival.  

“The events we have helped deliver so far in 2023 have seen a real surge in popularity as people flock to Ballarat in search of something a bit different,” Cr Hudson said.  

“This event is one we try and make as attractive as possible to families during school holidays, so throw on an extra layer and embrace everything that is great about winter in Ballarat.  

“Every year the ice-skating rink is extremely popular and the events at some of our major attractions like Sovereign Hill, Kryal Castle and the Ballarat Wildlife Park all sound enthralling.”



Ballarat Ice Skating Rink 

Get your skates on as the ever-popular Ballarat Winter Festival pop-up ice rink returns to the heart of the city, offering child-friendly, sensory and disco-themed skating sessions across the Festival period. Each session goes for one hour.  


  • When: 24 June – 16 July 

  • Time: Sunday – Thursday 9:00am – 8:30pm, Friday-Saturday 9:00am to 10pm 

  • Where: Ballarat CBD (next to the Ballarat Town Hall) 

  • Tickets: $9-$18 | Available to book from June at  


Winter Wonderlights at Sovereign Hill 

Sovereign Hill’s iconic Christmas in July-themed spectacle returns with a new shimmering light and projection show; falling snow; warm mulled wine; delicious gingerbread treats; pantomimes and theatre shows; hands-on Christmas-themed arts and crafts; and visits from St. Nick. As the sun goes down, share in the wonder as Sovereign Hill ignites for Winter Wonderlights. 


  • When: 24 June – 16 July 

  • Time: 10:00am to 7:00pm 

  • Where: Sovereign Hill – Bradshaw Street, Golden Point (Ballarat) 


Knights of Fire at Kryal Castle 

Every winter famed Kryal Castle celebrates ‘Knights of Fire;’ telling the fighting story of Snow Queen Neva’s battle to save the kingdom. Watch a spectacular fire joust; be spellbound by flaming swords; create magical potions; learn to sword fight and axe throw; partake in Knight School; and enjoy live performances that tell the story of Snow Queen Neva’s survival. 


  • When: 24 June – 8 July 

  • Time: 10:00am to 4:00pm 

  • Where: Kryal Castle – 121 Forbes Road, Leigh Creek (Ballarat) 

  • Tickets: $24-$36 | Available to book at 


Ballarat Wildlife Park 

The Ballarat Wildlife Park will not be hibernating this winter as they celebrate the arrival of Akasha – Ballarat’s newest tiger. A Sumatran/Siberian cross, Akasha is the younger sister of the park’s current tiger, Kai. While visiting the tigers visitors can also hand-feed 100 free roaming Kangaroos, see Koalas, Emus, meet a Wombat, admire the Little Penguins and see Crunch, the five-metre Super Croc.  


  • When: 24 June – 8 July 

  • Time: 9:00am to 5:00pm 

  • Where: Ballarat Wildlife Park – Corner of York and Fussell Streets, Ballarat East 

  • Tickets: $19.50-$38.50 | Available to book at 


The Design Exchange 

Each winter, The Design Exchange market brings together a curated line-up of amazing independent designers, artists and creators. Discover artisan foods, talented musicians and celebrate small businesses in one of Ballarat’s beautiful heritage buildings, the Mining Exchange.  


  • When: 1 – 2 July 

  • Time: Saturday 3-8pm Sunday 10am–3pm 

  • Where: Ballarat Mining Exchange – 16 Lydiard Street North, Ballarat Central 

  • Tickets: $5 per person with kids under 13 free 


Be_Hear/Now 2023  

Back for a fourth year, Be_Hear/Now gathers Ballarat’s biggest artists and performers for an entirely live music festival that takes place in venues and unused spaces across the city. 


From unique collaborations; to Confetti Western and Sami Regague, Be_Hear/Now 2023 is set to be the biggest yet! 


  • When: June 30 – July 2 

  • Time: Various times | Available at 

  • Where: Various locations around Ballarat 

  • Tickets: Various prices | Available to book at 



View the full Festival program at