Last weekend we were super lucky to hang out at Sovereign Hill for their Christmas in July celebrations. I’m pretty sure I was a teenager the last time I was in Ballarat, back in my school days when I did dancing competitions at the Royal South Street Eisteddfod, (but that’s a whole other story, ha!).
On the drive from Melbourne, we played ‘I Spy’ and listened to Madonna (no road trip is complete without singing to Borderline!). We arrived late morning and met up with my sister and my nephew (7) in the car park. The kids were so excited, and thankfully the weather had put on a good show, and the sun was shining.
We got there just in time for the first ‘snowfall’. A perfect way to kick off, and the first (of many!) sets of wide eyes from the kids. As an adult, you forget how something as simple as make-believe snow, can make you giggle with pure joy.
We made our way to the marquee at the top of the hill to watch Three High Acrobats. More wide eyes and giggles from the kids, as the trio performed gravity defying, (and very funny) stunts.
A short walk to the Victoria Theatre to see ‘A Visit from St Nicholas’ shadow puppet play, and then we scoffed delicious meat pies for lunch.
After lunch, we did an underground mine tour called the Labyrinth of Gold. We journeyed deep underground on a mine tram, and learnt all about mining times back in the 1850s. My nephew was in heaven and his wide eyes were out on stalks!
We danced through another snowfall as we made our way back to the Victoria Theatre, for Jack and the Beanstalk. The old school pantomime had us all shouting, ‘he’s behind you!’ to our hero Jack. There were kids down the front hanging on the edge of the stage, and lots of laughter throughout the theatre – it was hilarious and rowdy, just like a panto should be!
We went to The Ballarat Times Office to see the old printing presses, and the kids had posters printed with their names on them, in old school 1850s-style lettering. They got to watch the printer line up their names with metal letters, ink it up and roll it through the old press. Pretty sure I got more of a kick out of this than they did!
And of course, a trip to Sovereign Hill is not complete without a visit, (or two!), to the boiled sweets shop. This I definitely remember from when I was a kid, and had been thinking about the raspberry drops ever since I was given our tickets! There were more wide eyes as we stocked up on humbugs, raspberry drops, candy apples, horses heads and fairy drops.
So we found a spot on Main Street, and waited for night to fall, and the Winter Wonderlights to begin. And WOW, it was absolutely amazing. All along the street, the shops and buildings were transformed, and every colour in the rainbow was projected onto every surface available.
The light projections danced across the building facades. There were candyland scenes of lollipops and candy canes twisting and turning, ice cold frozen scenes with snowflakes falling, gold coins dazzled, Christmas decorations jingled, and so much more.
It’s no wonder that the projections were incredible, given that the production team, Electric Canvas, are the same team behind the White Night Melbourne event.
The musical arrangements were lovely, and the snow pretty much fell for an hour. We all danced around in it, with eyes closed, and heads up to the sky. It was magical, and hands down the BEST family event I’ve been to in ages.
A big thank you to the folks who run Sovereign Hill, what an awesome event. And to you my lovely readers, the Winter Wonderlights is on until Sunday 24 July. Don’t miss out, it’s well worth a visit. To find out more, it’s all here at: www.sovereignhill.com.au