General News

24 May, 2024

Giant fire to feature at Solstice

HARKING back to ancient winter solstice events, a giant fire will be the centrepiece of Warrnambool’s 2024 Solstice Search Party.

By Staff Writer

Last year’s Solstice attracted big crowds to the Botanic Gardens. The event has been moved to Lake Pertobe
Last year’s Solstice attracted big crowds to the Botanic Gardens. The event has been moved to Lake Pertobe

A host of winter-themed neon sculptures are also set to feature in next month’s celebrations.

The event, which has quickly established itself as the highlight of the Warrnambool winter events calendar, will be held on Saturday, June 29 from 2.30pm-8.30pm, with Lake Pertobe the new venue.

Already, close to 300 people have booked their free tickets and that number is expected to rise in coming weeks.

Warrnambool mayor Cr Ben Blain said the events from the previous two years had surpassed all expectations and he was looking forward to another memorable instalment of Solstice Search Party in 2024.

“What was originally conceived as a response to COVID-19 restrictions has grown and evolved into one of the most anticipated events of the year,” Cr Blain said.

“We have been very fortunate with the weather for the past two years, but even if our luck runs out and we end up with a colder day, the whole idea of the event is to embrace the winter solstice, rug up, head out, and see what you can discover.

“And while council adopted our new Events Strategy this month that emphasises the importance of bringing visitors to the city via events, the strategy also highlights the enormous social benefits of council hosting an event for the community like Solstice Search Party.

“This event really brings the community together. On the Monday after, it’s all anyone talks about. It’s a really fun event that makes a lot of people happy, and really, that’s what community events are all about.”

Throughout time, winter solstice rituals have revolved around fire, with attendees invited to gather around a rustic metal brazier, set with aromatic bushwood and spices.

Neon artist Carla O’Brien will bring an all-new selection of her winter-themed interactive artworks to Warrnambool for a fourth year, and there will be a range of other family activities to get involved in.

A fantastic array of live music has been curated by the team at Raglan Presents, with 2023 Triple J Unearthed High finalist Lotte Gallagher to be supported by local acts Evie May, Gabby Steel, Billy Barker and DJ Good Intentions.

The event has always aimed to support local talent, suppliers and creatives and will continue to do so.

Acting service manager events and promotions Victoria Black said the move to Lake Pertobe made sense from a logistical standpoint.

“Lake Pertobe is better set up for running events of this scale and allows us a few more options with the type of attractions we can bring in, like the fire effigy,” she said.

“We’ve taken on board the feedback from previous years and Lake Pertobe provides greater accessibility to make sure everyone can access the event safely.

“New footpaths, facilities such as bathrooms, and plenty of parking makes Lake Pertobe the perfect location for the growing event.

“The traffic management is a lot more straightforward too, with the pedestrian crossing on Pertobe Road.”

Those who arrive early will be able to park on Pertobe Road and at the McGennans carpark.

There will also be a shuttle bus running continuously from the Civic Green, Cannon Hill and Flagstaff Hill to encourage people to park in those areas too.

“The other change this year is that the scavenger hunt won’t be held the night before the Solstice Search Party,” Ms Black said.

“Numbers for the scavenger hunt had dropped off quite a bit and I think it’s clear in everyone’s minds that the Solstice Search Party is the main event, and we want to put more of our energy into making that part of the event the best it can be.”

Visitors are reminded to take along their torches and to be prepared for all the elements.

“Umbrellas, gumboots and a camping chair are recommended,” Ms Black said.

Everyone is encouraged to register for their free tickets.

As well as helping with event planning, it means attendees can stay up to date with the latest event information and any changes to plans due to extreme weather.

To book your free tickets visit

Solstice Search Party is an all ages, drug and alcohol-free event, brought to you by the Warrnambool City Council.


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