Ballarat’s signature festival, the Ballarat Begonia Festival, was celebrated citywide in March with new installations and weekend entertainment hailed a success by traders and visitors alike.
Festival activity previously centralised at the Ballarat Botanical Gardens, this year was relocated to the heart of our City in support of local business.
“The pandemic has been challenging for our traders, so placing Begonia Festival activities where businesses are located has helped drive patronage into our hospitality and retail venues. Feedback from business has been overwhelmingly positive,” Ballarat Mayor, Cr Daniel Moloney said.
Terry and Lee Frangos of Frangos & Sons experienced a significant trade increase throughout the festival which ran from 6-28 March, spanning three weeks and four weekends.
“It was fantastic. Weekends were especially busy with locals and out-of-towners exploring the BEGONIA letters and giant Swan both day and night. We’ve been trading for 30 Begonia Festivals and this was the best not only for coffee, cake and lunch but dinner too,” thy said.
In addition to the visual spectacle of festival installations in the Sturt Street Gardens, patrons loved the Festival’s Live Music, Gardeners Market, and roving performers which provided a strong visitation incentive.
Co-owner of Yellow Espresso Leo Trigazis described the the CBD as alive. “We were crazy busy over the Begonia Festival period, numbers were back to pre-COVID levels which is amazing, there is always an event happening in Ballarat which is good for business.”
The Ballarat Begonia Festival’s new format allowed the festival to proceed with a COVID-safe program, at a time when many other events across the state were either postponed or cancelled.
Most festival activities were located outdoors, both in the city and throughout Ballarat’s stunning parks and gardens to disperse crowds and ensure patrons could physically distance. At the Begonia Display in the Robert Clark Conservatory and the Urban Garden at the Civic Hall, patrons were required to sanitise and scan in with QR codes, and venue capacity numbers were capped.
“Patrons embraced the COVID-safe requirements, with many praising the format and capacity restrictions as they provided more space to enjoy the Begonias and floral displays,” Cr Moloney said.
COVID-19 has not deterred people from visiting Ballarat’s Begonias with over 1,000 people on average per day viewing the display over the festival period with a high proportion from Melbourne and Geelong travelling to admire Ballarat’s most famous bloom. The Ballarat Information Centre also recorded its busiest weekend ever over the March Long Weekend.
As festival organisers collate research and survey data, visitor numbers and economic impact are yet to be determined, however if the number of people around town is anything to go by, the new-look Ballarat Begonia Festival has been a success and the format may continue with the festival’s 70th year in 2022.
To have your say on the future festival format, please complete the survey before Friday 16 March.
Festival Goer – https://bit.ly/BegoniaFestivalSurvey
Business – https://bit.ly/BegoniaBusinessSurvey