Pies, pies and more pies: Launching Ballarat Winterlude is Deputy Mayor Cr Belinda Coates (Centre) with Julie McLaren Ballarat Art Gallery, Luke Tonkin promoting Peter and the Carnival play, Santa and the Knight from Kryal Castle

IF there’s one reason to celebrate the arrival of Winter it’s because Winterlude is coming! Winterlude kicks off with the school holidays on Saturday 25 July and continues for an entire month until Sunday 24 July. Whether it’s school holiday fun or a romantic rendezvous that you’re seeking, there’s a day out to enthrall everyone during Winterfest. Cascading snowflakes, soul-warming red wine and hearty fare – whimsiall cal winter adventures await for locals and visitors to Ballarat. More than 60,000 people are expected to attend the second Winterlude this year, with visitors coming from as far away as South Australia.

• The City of Ballarat’s pop-up ice skate rink in the middle of the CBD returns after being a big hit last year, when more than 10,000 people took to the ice next to the Ballarat Town Hall.

• The Ballarat Laneways program also returns in 2016 as a wintertime ‘light & sound’ spectacular bringing the Police Lane / Alfred Deakin Place / Camp Street CBD Arts Precinct to life as a night-time environment of light installations, free live music, street performances, soundscapes and more. • The Art Gallery of Ballarat and Her Majesty’s Theatre, Sovereign Hill, Kryal Castle and the Ballarat Wildlife Park will present Winterlude activities and performances.

• The popular pie competition returns, there’s also a beer festival and numerous food and wine offerings from local food, beverage and hospitality businesses. Deputy Mayor, Cr Belinda Coates, said the first Winterlude festival in 2015 was remarkably successful in getting people out and about in Ballarat to enjoy the season.

“While Winterlude is about having fun it also generates substantial benefits for local people and businesses,” she said.

“For example, our Winterlude Pie Competition in 2015 saw 5,000 pies sold across the city, generating $100,000 revenue for local cafes and restaurants. “All of Ballarat’s major attractions saw significant increases in visitation during our first 2015 Winterlude, with some enjoying 40 per cent more visitors compared with the same time in 2014. “

Accommodation occupancy during the 2015 Winterlude increased dramatically, by 80 per cent.

“This tells us that if we present an event such as Winterlude that it will attract visitors to Ballarat and they will stay for longer, to do more,” Cr Coates added.

“It’s great to see more local businesses using Winterlude as a platform for their marketing and activities this year.” Tickets to Winterlude events are now on sale. Download the Winterlude program and purchase tickets at www.ballaratwinterlude.com.au