23 May 2023

Festival of W officially returns to electrify Wagga

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Wagga Wagga City Council destination and events coordinator Kim Parker (left) and events officer Emma Corbett. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

Festival of W is set to return with the crowd favourite ice ring, a new sight and sound experience and a dining hub.

Wagga Wagga City Council has officially launched the return of Festival of W, which is set for 1 to 16 July at the Wollundry Cultural Precinct.

Australian visual creator Mandylights, known for lighting Vivid Sydney and Floriade, will be lighting up Wagga.

Wagga Council destination and events coordinator Kim Parker said the council was excited to be launching the 2023 festival’s line-up.

“This year, we’ll be welcoming the return of the ice-skating rink, which has been really popular in the past,” Ms Parker said.

“We’re introducing a brand-new dining hub as part of the overall festival.

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“We’re adding exciting additional elements, including a brand-new lighting and sound experience, which will have some underwater and on-ground activations.”

Ms Parker said Mandylights delivering lights for the festival would be a first for a region.

Live music from locals will also be a highlight.

“We have a free, one-night-only special live music event on Saturday, 8 July, with a line-up including Australian artists Sycco, Hatchie, Tom Snowdon, Muesli the band, and Wagga Wagga-based DJ Vino and Vinyl,” Ms Parker said.

She said the second year of the festival would be bigger than 2022, which attracted about 25,000 people over 16 days.

“About 30 per cent of those were from out of the region, which is a good benchmark to be hitting,” she said.

“Last year, we gauged about $4 million of economic input into the local economy based on the activities and events.

“We are anticipating to see a bit of growth from that this year.”

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Ms Parker said the festival was about embracing and showcasing the city and region during the winter months, and the 2023 program was set to deliver on that.

“We’re so excited for audiences to witness the major drawcard light and sound experience, which has been inspired by our city’s natural environments, Wiradjuri culture and community stories,” she said.

“The immersive land and on-water light show will play from dusk to late each evening of the festival.

“Also coming to the festival this year is House of FoW – a cosy, pop-up food and drink space showcasing local food offerings, fire buckets, live music, seating and heaters.

“House of FoW will be the perfect starting point for your festival experience, or wander the festival, have an ice skate and then end the evening here with a fireside nightcap.”

Elements of the celebration will also mark 2023 NAIDOC Week, which will occur during the festival. Wiradjuri and First Nations programming has been included throughout the festival and will be experienced through art, performance and food.

Ms Parker said the council had received positive feedback from the food vendors, who enjoyed more sales than they normally would in winter.

For more information, visit Festival of W.

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