Last weekend I went with a couple of mates up to Daylesford for the annual Chillout Festival. Daylesford is a regional town about 90 minutes from Melbourne that has a vibrant Gay community. Every year since 1997 (except for 2007) the town hosts the Chillout cultural Festival which has grown to become Australia’s largest Queer country Pride Festival. The festival has rich history which you can explore by clicking here.
The festival itself runs over four days and the calendar is full of fun things to do like winery tours, bush walking, Drag shows, the worlds largest human rainbow and large selection of parties. This is followed with a celebration on the fifth day for the volunteers who work so hard to host the event. As a cultural event Chillout Festival has become one of the must attend events on the Aussie Queer Calendar. Many people people who attend Mardi Gras Festival like to recover at Chillout.
Since my plan to attend Mardi Gras this year didn’t pan out I was looking forward to Chillout as a nice way to end the party season and nicely bookend what has been a very enjoyable summer. It was only a short trip arriving in time for the Parade and then to attend the Carnival and finish with a drink, dance, drag and souvlaki at the Yard Party at the Daylesford Hotel. There are a few dance parties but I convinced my companions that we could party at any time in Melbourne and that we should try to capture a bit of the Daylesford flavour by hitting the local pub. The Yard Party is great for those of you who want mix locally and hit the dance floor with a beer in one had and a souvlaki in the other. The only thing to sour the day was the obvious profiteering by the hotel which has advertised a $5.00 door charge but which insisted on charging $10.00 on the day, even though adverting in the venue said $5.00, also and the bakery that charged me $12.50 for a salad sandwich that was advertised for $8.40… dodgey bastards.
The Parade was a lot of fun and full of community spirit as it would its way through the main street of the town. It’s a short route and the parade does a few laps to make sure that everyone gets a go and to let the marchers really soak up the adoration of the crowd. The community spirit at these events is invigorating. I will admit I was in a foul mood after sleeping on a hard floor the night before and crazy length of time it took my companions to organise themselves over the previous 24 hours to actually get to Daylesford, but those feelings evaporated quickly amongst the colour and sprit of the day.
Having attended quite a few Mardi Gras festivals and Pride events in the past years I have to say that I’m feeling much more connection to my community at these smaller events rather that the large party in Sydney. Melbourne Pride and Chillout here have both had a real spirit rooted in the community and it’s been a refreshing change from the corporatisation of Mardi Gras. I’ve also enjoy the more relaxed atmosphere of these events without the hyper-sexualisation that the larger Queer festivals and Circuit Parties seem to use as a draw card.
Well done to the Chillout team for putting together great day, next year I’ll try to be better organised so that I can do more of the fun things that are on offer.
You can check out the pictures of the Parade below.