6 July 2024

Time to shine: Festival of W puts Wagga in spotlight as packed program kicks off

| Jarryd Rowley
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lights festival sign

The Festival of W promises to outshine its previous programs. Photo: Jarryd Rowley.

Wollundry Lagoon and the Victory Memorial Gardens have been lit up again as the Festival of W returns to Wagga for its third year.

The 16-day festival, spanning from Saturday, 6 July, to Sunday, 21 July, features a full curated calendar of events featuring a slew of local, national and international performances, plenty of food options, five spectacular light installations and the ever-popular ice-skating rink.

Wagga Wagga City Council’s destination and events coordinator Kim Parker said there was plenty for everyone across the 16-day program, which had built on what the council had learnt from previous festivals.

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“The Festival of W is purposely held during a time in Wagga where not a lot normally happens,” she explained.

“We’ve got an amazing array of activities organised this year, but I think the major drawcard for residents is the incredible light vision experience curated by MandyLights.

“The large-scale light and sound show has taken over the Wollundry Lagoon Precinct and features floating water lilies, a pebble grid on the shores, as well as a fantastic light tunnel that I’m sure many people will be taking pictures in.

“We’ve also got the return of the ice-skating rink, which continues to be incredibly popular.”

Ms Parker also explained that the second Saturday of the event would be its busiest day, with several activities that would not be available on other days, while each Friday and Saturday during the festival would feature live performances.

“We will have an elevated experience, of course during the middle weekend, where we’ll be closing down Baylis Street,”’ she said.

“We will have a UV spaghetti experience, which is a very tactile experience where people can walk through a unique space.”

A couple of the light installations were made in partnership with local artists: animator Alice Peacock and First Nations artist Sarah Levett.

Ms Parker said it was important to inject local talent into the creation of the festival to give it a Wagga feel.

“Creating a platform for local artists as well as performers is something really special to be a part of,” she said.

“I think it’s important to have these artists be part of the festival to showcase their works while also giving people something to enjoy and admire.”

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Last year’s Festival of W attracted more than 120,000 people to Wagga and injected over $6 million into the local economy. Despite still being in its infancy conceptually, the Festival of W garnered the attention of the NSW Government, receiving two separate grants to support making the 2024 iteration even bigger.

“The Festival of W really has the potential to become a destination event for Wagga,” Ms Parker said.

“It’s one of, if not Wagga’s largest, event held in the middle of winter when you wouldn’t normally come out. Being able to bring people out and into this space and encourage visitors to the city is a really great achievement.”

To see the full Festival of W calendar, visit the Wagga Wagga City Council website here.

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