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Six must-do events at the Ballarat Heritage Festival

Visit Ballarat

20 Apr 2021

Filed underFamily Friendly

Dust off your tweed, oil up your retro bike or take a ride on a steam locomotive at the 2021 Ballarat Heritage Festival.

Between 7 and 30 May, the City of Ballarat is breathing new life and intrigue into this celebration of Ballarat’s heritage with an expanded festival program of activations, exhibitions, tours and events.

But wondering where to begin?

Here’s our top picks for your Heritage Festival to-do list:

Ballarat Tweed Ride

Saturday 8 May 

Ride through Ballarat’s historic and picturesque autumn streets in high style.

This is a casual event of fashion, cycling and fun.

Riders dress in vintage and heritage-inspired outfits wearing tweeds, velvets, capes and kilts and ride through Ballarat’s beautiful streets. 

All bikes are welcome, however, the best vintage, replica, interesting and stylish bikes will be invited to enter the Tweed Fashions on the Field at the Ballarat Mining Exchange. 

More details

Ballarat Beard & Stache Competition

Saturday 29 May 

The Ballarat Beard & Stache Competition is an annual event celebrating all forms of facial hair. 

With more than $1000 in prizes, the competition is one not to be missed by those with a face full of hair or those who are keen to do something a little different.

As well as the men’s facial hair categories, there will be a Just For Fun category for gentlemen, ladies and children who want to get creative. 

Held at Hop Temple, this event promises good food, good beer and good beards. 

More details

Craft Lab & Design Expo

15, 16, 22, 23 May 

An initiative of the UNESCO Creative City of Craft & Folk Arts program, this expo will showcase highly skilled practitioners who will trace their heritage through the language of their crafts. 

This two-weekend event will represent up to 18 different trades, makers and crafters with a spotlight on First Nations creatives.

Visitors will walk through a curated exhibition of their exemplary works and experience live demonstrations of their crafts.

They will also be able to buy unique hand-crafted items straight from the makers. 

More details

Steam Train Shuttles

Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 May 

Steamrail Victoria invites you to ride its historical steam shuttles, departing from the heritage Ballarat Railway Station. 

Journey behind two vintage steam locomotives, including 132-year-old Y112, built at the Phoenix Foundry in the heart of Ballarat.

Listen to the engines work hard up the hill towards Melbourne, before they branch off on the old line towards Geelong for a scenic return ride towards Lal Lal.

From here, the second locomotive will take charge and lead you back towards Ballarat Station, completing the one-hour journey.

With V/Line’s modern high-speed trains speeding past, you will travel at a more leisurely pace, experiencing ‘old-school’ air-con with the windows open in the heritage wooden carriages dating back to 1906. 

More details

Ballarat Nostalgia

Every day 

Instagram-favourites Sugar Republic will bring various Ballarat locations to life with a distinct nostalgic feel for the Ballarat you remember as a kid. 

You might strike it rich with gold shimmers, get lost in neon or send yourself back in time.

Take a leisurely walk around the Ballarat CBD and Lake Wendouree precincts to experience the pop-up fun throughout the Heritage Festival. 

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Self-Guided Digital Heritage Tours

Every day 

Explore Ballarat’s diverse historical landmarks and experience a new way to interact with the heritage streetscapes.

There are 10 locations to visit and, just by scanning a QR code, you can experience the history through a new augmented reality platform.

This experience is done best with the audio tour, which includes compelling stories from various perspectives, featuring interesting and quirky facts about each location. 

More details

For further information about the Ballarat Heritage Festival, visit


The City of Ballarat acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land we live and work on, the Wadawurrung and Dja Dja Wurrung People, and recognises their continuing connection to the land and waterways. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging and extend this to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.