One Victorian regional city is putting its best on show this winter with a bevy of events celebrating everything from words to wine.
Bendigo, a two-hour drive from Melbourne, is hosting a writers festival, a light and cultural celebration, and a wine weekend across May and June.
It comes in addition to the Elvis Direct From Graceland exhibition at the Bendigo Art Gallery, which showcases more than 300 personal and professional items from the iconic rocker’s Memphis home.
Bendigo’s wide range of winter events is expected to attract big crowds as travel-starved Victorians emerge from pandemic restrictions.
The winter celebrations begin with the Bendigo Writers Festival, held between May 12 and 15.
It will showcase Australian literary talent including Meg Mason, author of Sorrow and Bliss, Graeme Simsion, author of the Rosie series, and John Marsden, best-selling author of the Tomorrow series.
International talent includes Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Love, Pray, and West Indies cricketing legend Michael Holding (Why We Kneel, How We Rise), who will both appear via video in conversation.
Journalists and media figures will also join the line-up, including Lisa Wilkinson, Jon Faine and Dr Norman Swan, as well as iconic names such as theatre personality John Bell and famed food writer Stephanie Alexander.
Gourmet farmer Matthew Evans will open the festival on Thursday, May 12 with a gastronomy banquet at new Bendigo restaurant, Ms Batterhams at MacKenzie Quarters.
There is also much on offer for aspiring authors including the How To Get Published workshop hosted by Alice Grundy, associate publisher at Brio Books and co-founder of Seizure, an incubator of Australian writing.
All sessions to the Bendigo Writers Festival are ticketed and can be booked individually.
Light and culture come together
The largest Buddhist temple in the Western world, The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion on the outskirts of Bendigo will host a unique cultural celebration in June.
The Illumin8 Festival of Light and Peace, on June 4, is timed to coincide with the birth and death of Buddha according to the Tibetan festival of Saga Dawa.
The family-friendly event will feature light installations, cultural performances, food stalls with vegan and vegetarian fare and entertainment.
Held between 6pm and 8pm, visitors can wander through the Peace Park, marvel at light sculptures and can even purge their negative emotions in a ritual called Burning the Bad.
The Bendigo and Heathcote regions are renowned for their vineyards and cellar doors, and this winter wine makers are inviting the public to sample some of their finest.
Heathcote on Show, held on the Queen’s Birthday weekend of June 11, 12 and 13, is hosted by the region’s artisan winemakers, chefs, brewers and musicians.
Visitors can expect wine tastings, live music, gourmet food and community activities at more than 30 locations across Heathcote.
Participating wineries include Ellis Wines, Humis Vineyard and Kennedy Wines, with many more inviting people to their cellar doors or hosting pop-up cellar doors in the heart of Heathcote, which is a 30-minute drive from Bendigo.