The Sovereign Hill Winter Wonderlights are back for another year as part of the Ballarat’s Winter Festival from 1-30 July 2017. Expect a magical day out in olden day Ballarat with snowfalls, Christmas decorations and stunning light projections!
Sovereign Hill is one of Victoria’s most popular tourist destinations and a place to immerse yourself in the history of gold-rush era Ballarat of the 1850s.
There’s so much to do there that we’ve never been able to see it all in over 3 visits!
Must-dos include panning for gold, the underground mine tour and of course the famous raspberry drops from the old-fashioned lolly shop. (Full review).
During Winter Wonderlights the whole outdoor museum is festooned with Christmas decorations, with wreaths at every shop front, Christmas trees and the sounds of carolling along the main streets.
It is a really magical atmosphere, especially when the snow falls.
In addition to regular attractions and programming there is a Christmas-themed theatrical program and festive stalls.
If you’re visiting Sovereign Hill for just one day and for the first time then it’s a good idea to plan your schedule so you don’t miss out on any of the special activities. As we have been to Sovereign Hill several times and it is VERY busy on our visit (school holidays weekend) we opt not to bother with any of the scheduled activities and just to wander where the crowds, kids and fairy lights take us.
The unmissable highlight is when the Main Street lit up with a rainbow of moving projections by Electric Canvas, the team behind some of the stunning projections at White Night Melbourne.
We take up position at 5:45pm though, when Sovereign Hill’s Main Street is lit up by large-scale moving light projections under a flurry of fake snowfall.
We admire the animations, chasing the images of the Gingerbread Man, until 6:15pm as we can’t push any further past the crowd going uphill.
Remember to start your projection viewing from the top of Main Street and head down the hill towards the exit!
Winter Wonderlights is a magical experience for young and old and well worth a road trip to Ballarat. It is included in the standard Sovereign Hill entry fee, which allows visitors to enter on two consecutive days. We are there from 2:30pm-6:15pm but you can easily stay for longer.
- Peak times are school holidays and weekends;
- Parking is free on site, though on busy days you may have to park in the Gold Museum or down the hill;
- Bring lots of snacks (a thermos, even better) as eateries get crowded, especially from 5pm. We eat dinner at 4:30pm at the Sovereign Hill cafe and it’s still very busy;
- You can get the award-winning pies and sausages rolls from the Hope Bakery within the Sovereign Hill cafe, though without the Victorian-era atmosphere;
- Book a sit-down dinner in advance at Charlie Napier Hotel;
- You can get a pass out and have dinner elsewhere – The Forge Pizzeria is recommended (you’ll need to drive) and a reader also suggests the Japanese restaurant across the road from Sovereign Hill;
- Most of Sovereign Hill’s attractions are outdoors so wear lots of warm gea r (waterproof coat, layers, gloves, scarf, hat). Ballarat experiences harsh winters and once the sun goes down it is really cold;
- Gumboots are a good idea as the pathways get muddy. For some reason my kids always love walking in the ditches too!;
- Bring a torch/glow sticks for added fun;
- Projections start at 5:45pm though the fairy lights switch on a bit earlier;
- The best position for when the projections start is to start at the top of Main Street and head down the hill, towards the exit. The momentum of the crowd means that you’ll be unable to push your way up the hill;
- All the shops take EFTPOS (even for small amounts). There is an ATM at the entrance, Sovereign Hill cafe and the post office;
- Sovereign Hill is a comfortable 90-minute drive from Melbourne along the Western Highway;
- train and tour coach services which operate daily from Melbourne; and
- If you buy an Entertainment Book you can get 25% off entry for 4 people, which almost makes up the cost of the book at $65 ($13 of which goes to charity incidentally).
Sovereign Hill’s Winter Wonderlights Christmas in July, Sovereign Hill, 3 Bradshaw Street, Ballarat (03) 5337 1199
Saturday 1 July – Sunday 30 July
Open daily from 10am. The ‘Winter Wonderlights’ show starts each evening approx 5.45pm.
Children (5-15) $27
Family (2 adults up to 4 children) $150