IT was appropriate weather on Wednesday for the launch of the upcoming Bathurst Winter Festival.
While an icy wind whistled outside, the mayor, state member and festival sponsors gathered at Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre to look ahead to the start of the event on July 2.
After two years of the festival being affected by coronavirus and its associated restrictions - including last-minute changes having to be imposed on the opening night last year due to the snap introduction of new COVID rules - mayor Robert Taylor said it would be good to have the event not hampered by the pandemic.
Bathurst Regional Council says festival fixtures including the McDonald's Bathurst Ice Rink, giant ferris wheel and carousel will be back and the program this year will feature food and wine events, festival nights and lots of activities for families.
Council says festival events will include the LiveBetter Accessibility Day (which aims to let people living with a disability enjoy the festival in a safe environment); Armada Opening Night; Bowman Dental Groove and Grill (a music program for young artists); Brighten up Bathurst (in which businesses decorate their shopfronts); and themed skating events.
As is traditional, illuminations will be on display on buildings around the CBD from sundown to 10pm each night.
Member for Bathurst Paul Toole said there was an appetite among the people of the state to gather and enjoy each other's company again.
"What we're finding is that where communities are reconnecting and getting back out there, we are seeing record crowds," he said.
Mr Toole and Cr Taylor both emphasised the festival's importance to the Bathurst economy and its hospitality and accommodation sectors.
The ice-skating rink in Russell Street, Mr Toole said, brings "thousands of visitors here over that school holiday period".
The mayor and state member swapped challenges about how good they would be out on the ice when the rink is set up, though Cr Taylor made it clear he would need a bit of help.
"I will definitely be holding on to him [Mr Toole]," he said.
Tickets for the ice rink went on sale at 3pm on Wednesday (June 1) and will be available online only at www.bathurstwinterfestival.com.au
The Bathurst Winter Festival will be held from July 2 to 17.