All roads lead to Daylesford for ChillOut

ChillOut editorialNow in its 18th year, the ChillOut Festival has grown to become one of the biggest and longest-running Country Queer Pride events in regional Australia, and the largest festival in Hepburn Shire.

First staged in 1997, ChillOut began as an annual festival of Springs Connection, a local gay and lesbian business group in Daylesford, and now, each year the festival has been hosted over the Victorian Labour Day long weekend in March.

In 2015, ChillOut promises something for everyone to enjoy with around 30 events programmed over the long weekend from comedy to cabaret, food & wine, the popular Bush Dance, the Street Parade, Carnival and Dance Party.

Get ready to reel, two-step and polka at the ChillOut Bush Dance on Saturday night. It’s an all time classic and all about the hats, the gingham shirt and those boots that were made for dancing. The bush dance caller will take you through step by step whilst you make new friends, swinging those hips from side to side or front and back.

The annual Street Parade on Sunday morning is a highlight of the festival with the theme this year, Queer Country Pride. Think cowboy boots, big hats and even bigger hair with thousands of spectators who line Vincent Street, Daylesford.

ChillOut‘s Carnival Day is one of regional Victoria’s best. Wander through the market and browse the variety of stalls while enjoying great local food and wine. There’s music, entertainment and activities galore including the dog show with a few surprises here and there.

Then as the sun sets on another festival, get out your dancing shoes and head to the Daylesford Town Hall for ChillOut‘s own Dance Party. The fabulous DJ line up includes Argonaut, Simon Edwards and Philthy Holster (direct from Sydney) – who have picked some of their favourite tunes that will get you shaking it on the dance floor.

Other highlights include: Dolly Diamond and friends at Grange Bellinzona, the works of David Bromley will be on show in A Visual Feast At East, Daniel Witthaus and Rainbow Story Time feature at the Daylesford Library and Bluehouse – Australia’s foremost and most loved lesbian group are back with the harmonies, songs and attitude that they are so well known for.

The We are Family forum at the Neighbourhood Centre will explore the pleasure and complexities of the queer family life in 2015, while the Roller Derby will see teams from Regional Victoria go head to head in a high speed no mercy smack down competition to determine the best team in the region.

CREAM 2015 promises an awesome afternoon/evening of music, fun and frivolity at the famous Old Hepburn Hotel, while the festival’s very own gay comedy club returns to the Daylesford Convent for its 7th instalment featuring some of Australia’s favourite comedy stars from radio, stage and screen.

The Hepburn Shire is all about food and wine, and the Daylesford Hotel will help keep you sustained over the weekend. How about sunset drinks on the balcony on Friday night, or indulge in a souvlaki and vodka while dancing to local and Melbourne DJ’s in the beer garden of Saturday and Sunday. As the weekend comes to a close, share the stories at the recovery lunch on Monday with plenty of bloody mary’s and excellent pub fare.

The 2015 ChillOut Festival runs 6 – 9 March. For more information and complete programme, visit: for details.

Image: courtesy of ChillOut Festival