Daylesford’s ChillOut Festival is only a few weeks away and this year is set to be another bumper long weekend.

From humble beginnings, ChillOut has grown to become the biggest and longest-running country queer pride event in regional Australia, and the largest festival in Hepburn Shire.

While events in the capital cities might be a lot bigger, ChillOut retains a relaxed, down-to-earth atmosphere with plenty of opportunities to let your hair down. It has found a special place in the hearts of gay men and lesbians across Australia — and the world.

During its 14-year history, ChillOut has raised more than $100,000 for local charities, worthy causes and groups.

This year marks the first ChillOut country race day, while keen golfers will put their best swing forward at the ChillOut golf tournament at Hepburn Springs Golf Club.

Music events will run throughout the weekend, as well as horse trail rides, art exhibitions, comedy events, luncheons, high teas and a food and wine train trip through Wombat Forest.

Now’s the time to start planning your rural escape. Tickets are now on sale, and a full line-up is available online.

Here’s a taster of what’s on offer during the four-day event.

FRIDAY

Meet the locals
ChillOut’s four-day festival will kick off with an official opening party at Daylesford Town Hall on the Friday night (March 9).
Everyone is welcome at the event, which starts at 6pm, to celebrate the start of the regional LGBTI festival.
Festival-goers can enjoy a couple of drinks, meet the locals and mingle.
Plan your activities, including a tour of the town the next day with local storyteller Anne E Stewart who will share colourful stories, characters and locations with her Gay Tour of Daylesford.


SATURDAY

Race Day
ChillOut’s inaugural country race day is finally set to get galloping.
The event was cancelled last year due to wet weather, and has been rescheduled for this year’s festival on Saturday, March 10 at the NMIT Kyneton Park racetrack.
Plenty of fun is planned trackside, including food and wine stalls, live music and a big screen to watch all the action from Flemington. There will be a free shuttle bus service from Daylesford to Kyneton during the day so festivalgoers can indulge in some local food and wine. From 1-5pm. Entry $15. Details: www.kyneton.countryracing.com.au

High Tea
Do you enjoy the finer things in life? Break out the teacups and doilies for ChillOut’s High Tea on Camp.
Cross your legs and enjoy a host of glorious gastronomic goodies, including cucumber sandwiches, buttery biscuits and creamy cakes all washed down with quality leaf tea, Pimms or a gin and tonic.
The event will be held at Albert Day Spa and Mills Spa suites at 12 Camp St, Daylesford. Held from 4-6pm on Saturday, March 10, the high tea is a great way to gossip away the afternoon before an evening of entertainment. Gold coin donation to SES.


Do-si-do

Saturday night will see the return of one of ChillOut’s most popular events, the annual bush dance, held at Daylesford Town Hall.
Country band the Cartwheels will bring the Town Hall alive with traditional square dance favourites, as beginners and experts take to the floor in various hues of plaid. Dance caller Marshall Webb will lead dancers through the steps so there are no excuses not to get jiggy with it. Entry $20. Bookings essential.
For those who can’t make it to the bush dance, a great night of song has been planned at the Old Hepburn Hotel with Cream, featuring Sal Kimber, the Monique Brumby band, the Rosie Burgess Trio and more.

SUNDAY

Let’s dance

The ChillOut dance party is back again in 2012 and this time around it’s time to dress up to the nines.
This year’s theme is burlesque, so too much feathering, sequining, lace or glitter is not enough.
Touted Melbourne DJ Peter ‘Mona’ McNamara will hit the decks to get the glam crowd moving to ‘gay anthems’ with his own blend of progressive house.
McNamara is well known around the traps, having played over the years at the Laird Hotel, the (former) Market, ALSO parties and Mardi Gras.
Fellow Melbourne DJ Miss Eleni will join him. A special guest will perform at 9pm. On at Daylesford Town Hall. Doors open 8pm. Happy hour 8-9pm. Tickets $50.

Time to celebrate
It’s the biggest day on the ChillOut calendar and this year Carnival Day-goers are in for a treat.
A huge day of entertainment is planned with acclaimed entertainer Paul Capsis set to headline. Capsis will share the stage with alt-country rockers Sal Kimber and the Rollin’ Wheel and glamorous GH dancing boys Boylesque.
ChillOut regular Dolly Diamond will return to the Carnival Day stage with partner-in-crime Luke Gallagher.
There will be food and market stalls, and the annual dog show will get tails wagging.
Carnival Day takes place after the annual ChillOut street parade on Vincent St which starts at 10.30am.
At Victoria Park. Gates open 11am-6pm. Tickets $15 in advance, or $20 at the gate.

INFO: The 2012 ChillOut Festival runs March 9-12 at Daylesford, Victoria. Details and tickets: www.chilloutfestival.com.au

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