ChillOut Festival, Victoria’s longest running regional LGBTQIA+ pride event is returning to Daylesford and surrounds over the Labour Day weekend from 9 – 13 March 2023.
The full program for the 2023 ChillOut Festival has been released, featuring over fifty events running over five days around the villages of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs in Central Victoria’s spa country.
Events will range from large late night outdoor dance parties, circus, drag and comedy shows, and a Sunday morning street parade, to the more intimate, like art gallery exhibition, social drinks, speed dating, all gender sport events, and rainbow storytime.
Festival Director Emma Ireland said that the festival’s program has grown again this year, but will retain its intimate, small-town feel. “The theme of ‘find your wings’ is not only about celebrating the local-brown-eyed butterfly that was thought extinct, it’s about re-emerging from the isolation of the last two years,” said Emma.
“It’s about finding yourself and your community, and especially about supporting trans people to live happy, fulfilled authentic lives in safety. With that in mind, building community is a really important part of ChillOut – so the program has a range of large and small, more intimate events.”
“This is the first time that we’ll be running speed dating at Frango’s with the help of drag artist and all-round great icebreaker The Harry Morrissey Official. It will be ‘come as you are’, forty people at a time. There’ll be question cards and Harry Morrissey will officiate and keep you moving like musical chairs!” said Emma.
In its 26th year – the longest running regional LGBTQIA+ pride event is still coming up with new events to compliment the long-time favourites like Bush Dance and Carnivale, this year headlined by opera-pop star Kate-Miller-Heidke. New events to ChillOut include a Comedy Cabaret at the Convent, an all-femme party Hey Hunny!, life drawing classes, and speed dating.
Comedy at the Convent will be hosted by cabaret comedian Aurora Kurth, and boasts a hilarious line-up including drag superstars Karen from Finance, Dolly Diamond, drag king Justin Teliqure, and comedy folk duo The Tuck Shop Ladies.
Hey Hunny! has an all-femme line-up in a party curated for women, non-binary people and their friends, in a celebration of ‘femme’ performers. The line-up includes 2022 Melbourne Fringe award-winner Jude Perl, comedy-folk duo Tuck Shop Ladies, singer songwriter Holly Kercheval, and high energy blues outfits This Way North and the Hussy Hicks.
The Radius Art Gallery in Hepburn Springs will show an exhibition of regional LGBTQIA+ artists work curated around the festival’s theme Find Your Wings – as well as hosting life drawing classes throughout the weekend.
Local French bistro ‘Bistro Terroir’ will host a St Tropez themed late afternoon cocktail hour with the Sunday session raising money for ChillOut’s local outreach initiative Raising Rainbows – enabling regional schools and towns to fly the rainbow flag to show support and acceptance for the LGBTQIA+ community across rural and regional Victoria.
The festival’s free family friendly events will be back as well – with the All-Ages Saturday Sound Shell event returning after a successful debut in 2022, this time with an intergenerational panel as well as a panel of Daylesford College students talking about their experiences of gender and sexuality.
RuPaul’s Drag race Superstar Art Simone will MC the free all ages event at Hepburn Amphitheatre, featuring performances from MARZ, local hip rising talent Mz Burn, drag from Freddie Merkin, Elektra Lite and Miss First Nation 2021 Cerulean. The event will also feature market stalls from community groups including the Bendigo Trans Clothing Swap, and a fashion parade.
The 2023 ChillOut Festival runs 9 – 13 March. For more information and full program, visit: www.chilloutfestival.com.au for details.
Image: Local hip rising talent Mz Burn will perform at the Hepburn Amphitheatre (supplied)