Daylesford is well known for being an excellent place to relax and unwind, and while the name ChillOut Festival is in line with that, the event is certainly more vibrant than the town's tranquil spa culture.
With a tagline of 'queer country pride', the event promises plenty of opportunities to let your hair down in a fun, friendly and safe environment.
ChillOut began in 1997, designed to be an annual festival of the Springs Connection, a Daylesford gay and lesbian business group. Since these humble beginnings, the festival has grown to become the longest-running, not to mention biggest, Country Queer Pride event in regional Australia. It's Hepburn Shire's largest festival and comes complete with a relaxed atmosphere that Daylesford is famous for, attracting plenty of gay and lesbian people from across Australia and the world each year.
Hosted over the March Labour Day long weekend in Victoria, the festival's mission statement is as follows:
"Dedicated to celebrating gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer pride ChillOut is about building community, celebrating diversity, and sharing our love for each other and our unique setting in central regional Victoria."
The not-for-profit community-based organisation aims to build community, celebrate diversity and embrace gay, lesbian, transgender and queer pride in the unique regional setting on Daylesford. ChillOut supports various community organisations and charities through the Roz Moynihan Worthy Cause program, with The Slowest Lunch a special part of the festival's lineup. This gives guests the chance to mingle and indulge in a three-course meal comprising of local seasonal produce, with silent and live auctions throughout. Live local entertainment also lights up the room.
As for the festival itself, guests can dance away the days to live music, be enchanted by talented magicians and gorge on plenty of wonderful food. There's a street parade where guests dressed in theme can strut their stuff - and dressing up is encouraged. The 2014 theme was superheroes and villains, which saw people take to the streets in lycra, spandex, boots and capes.
Other highlights of the 2014 festival included the official opening party at the Daylesford Town Hall, a Bush Dance and Dance Party for revellers to unleash their inner dancing queens and the first annual Quad-RAMBLER-thon. This began with a ride on a red rambler train through the countryside, before an 8km bike ride through the Wombat Forest. Next up there was an organic chicken and champagne lunch at Lake Daylesford, then a treasure hunt through the area to top it all off.
There was also a ChillOut Bout featuring the Daylesford Derby Dolls, giving guests a taste of what roller derby is all about.
The ChillOut Carnival Day is a fair-style atmosphere that aims to get attendees wandering through a lively market place, sampling local food and wine along the way. The main stage is lit up by plenty of live music acts, and there's even a dog show for pooches to win prizes at. See if your pup can take home one of the following awards:
- Most Feminine Pooch
- Most Butch Pooch
- Most Pooch like its owner
- Best Trick
- Best in biscuit catching dog
- Best Waggiest Tail
The 2014 event saw a bean bag hire service included on this day, giving guests the chance to rest in between dancing and feasting.
A ChillOut Big 3 ticket can help guests get more bang for their buck. It's a combined entry to the Bush Dance, Carnival Day and Dance Party with a price of $95 for all three at the 2014 event. Bear in mind this ticket is not suitable for those under the age of 18 as the Bush Dance and Dance Party are 19 plus events.
ChillOut Festival 2015
The 2015 ChillOut Festival is set to take the Daylesford Macedon Ranges Region by storm. Rainbow flags will decorate the streets and the sounds of music and sights of disco balls will decorate the neighbourhood.
This program is set to be one of the biggest yet, with the festival celebrating 16 years of ChillOut. Organisers are promising old favourites along with brand new acts, with races, footy games, walks, horse rides and more entertaining the masses. Witness roller skating and art along with live performances, all the while sampling decadent food and wine. The festival will spread across four days from Friday March 6 to Monday March 9, and guests are encouraged to bring plenty of vibrant outfits to suit the occasion.
Full program details will be announced shortly, and tickets can be purchased online through the official website.
*Banner Image from Lizardstomp