Our say | Our winter party just keeps getting bigger

THE continued growth of the Bathurst Winter Festival is one of the great legacies of Bathurst’s bicentenary celebrations.

The festival first ran in 2015 despite fears it would be a flop.

The conventional wisdom suggested Bathurst people would not come out during the coldest months of the year, preferring to huddle indoors by their fires.

But that proved not to be the case. Instead, it became a matter of build it and they will come.

The ice rink set up in Kings Parade during that first winter festival was the most visible success story of the two weeks and it became the cornerstone for future festivals.

Last year council introduced an even bigger ice rink along with a ferris wheel outside the council civic centre on Russell Street and this year a carousel has been added to the attractions.

But council has also taken on board suggestions from the community calling for more to do after dark, with two street parties to feature during the 16-day program.

The first is Ignite the Night which will be held on Saturday, July 1, the first day of the festival.

The second street party, Brew and Bite, is on Saturday, July 8 and it will feature food from around the world, burgers, wings, sweet treats and mulled wine, along with a host of local produce, wine and craft beers.

And there will be the return of the Illumination festival, Bathurst’s answer to the wildly popular Vivid festival held each year in Sydney.

This year’s illumination sites will include Bathurst Court House, Court House Lane, The Fernery at Machattie Park and Gunthers Lane, and the light show will be supported by roving performers across the CBD.

That’s a lot of bang for our festival buck and a tribute to the foresight of the original organisers back in 2015.

Rather than believe those who said a festival during the coldest months of the year would be doomed to fail, they put on more than the public could have imagined and the public responded in their thousands.

The winter festival is also a reflection of just how far this city has come in terms of promoting itself over the past decade or so.

The people who live in Bathurst have always known just how much the city has to offer. Now, the rest of the region and the state are starting to find out as well.

If that’s the enduring legacy of the bicentenary, then it’s the gift that keeps on giving.