A Family Guide to the Bendigo Easter Festival

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Bigger and better is Bendigo’s motto for this year’s Bendigo Tafe Bendigo Easter Festival, held on the long weekend from March 30th to April 1st. 

One giant family-friendly shindig sprawled across the streets and parks of the Victorian gold rush town, the festival program promises parades and performances the whole family will love. 

The first Bendigo Easter Fair was held in 1871 to raise funds for the local hospital. In 2018, the 148th festival, is supported by the Bendigo Chinese Association and embraces Chinese customs, given the timing of Easter roughly coincides with the first month of the Chinese Lunar Year. 

Did you know Bendigo is the proud home of Sun Loong, the world’s longest Chinese Imperial dragon?

Sun Loong emerges from his slumber in time for the Bendigo Advertiser Gala Parade, joined by other colourful costumes and curiosities along the parade route. 

If you go, don’t forget to check out the Vision Australia Easter Egg Hunt in Rosalind Park. Up to  170,000 Cadbury chocolate eggs need to be found. There’s also a mini Commonwealth Games held by Gecko Sports for aspiring athletes. 

The Children’s Carnival offers up rides and attractions galore. Preschoolers will love a ride on the CFA Fire Truck. Browse the Rotary Art and Craft Market, or make some art of your own at Lanterns in the Park. Kids and grown ups can design their own lantern to bring along to the lantern procession on Saturday night at 8pm. The Laser Electrical Torchlight Lantern Procession is a sight to be seen – you’ll feel like a family of fireflies as you march along illuminated streets.

In the Dai Gum San Chinese Precinct on Bridge Street, the Golden Dragon Museum has dragon puppet workshops and the chance to see the original 60 metre-long dragon who danced in the Easter parade from 1892 to 1970. 

You can also see lion dancing at the Chinese Spring Festival and join the Awakening of the Dragon as part of an alarm clock of more than 100,000 firecrackers to wake Sun Loong for the parade.

Although the festivities centre on Rosalind Park, with live music and events on the main stage, there is lots more happening all over town. Think book fairs, prize wheels, discos, live gigs and vintage car displays. 

After 148 years of fine-tuning, it is safe to say the Bendigo Tafe Bendigo Easter Festival operates like a well-oiled machine. You can expect road closures in aid of parades and easy access to the venues. If you want to drive, there is a free multi-storey car park on Hargreaves and Edward Streets. Alternatively, park outside the CBD and catch a tram, making the most of the special Easter long weekend tickets.

Organisers are encouraging visitors to bring your their water bottles and use the refill stations in Rosalind Park, to reduce waste. 

In case of emergency, the park is also the location of the First Aid Tent and Lost Persons Centre. For people with wheelchairs, there are marked viewing areas to enable an uninterrupted view of the passing parade – these include a spot at Alexandra Fountain and another in the McCrae Street carpark. 

The Parents Room can be found behind the Bendigo Visitor’s Centre, where you can also collect a wristband for kids to help out if any littlies get lost. 

For anyone who needs it, in McCrae Car Park there is a Marveloo accessible toilet with a hoist, access ramp and automatic door.

Read this story for some more family-friendly events happening in Victoria throughout the year !

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