The ChillOut Festival returns to Daylesford this weekend for four days of queer-themed music, cabaret, cinema, arts and crafts, sport and dance.

The annual festival attracts tens of thousands of visitors to Daylesford and the surrounding areas, and has been estimated to pump more than $8 million into the local economy.

A key element of the festival is fundraising for a nominated worthy cause, with this year’s event benefiting the CFA/Glenlyon Group, incorporating several local CFA brigades.

ChillOut president Adam Wright told Southern Star that tickets to many of the festival’s big events, including the Bush Dance and Dance Party, would be hard to come by once in Daylesford at the weekend.

“Those events are very close to selling out, and they do every year,” he said.

“It’s looking like we’ll draw a similar-sized crowd to last year, if not a little bigger. A couple of the newer events have proved very popular, like the roller derby [at Daylesford Secondary College on Saturday, March 6].”

The festival’s ticketed events aren’t the only ones filling up: Wright said Sunday’s free street parade was also proving popular.

“The numbers for the parade are looking very promising. People do need to register to march in the parade, and if they’ve already registered they should be thinking about their outfits right now!”

Wright also offered some sage advice to those who may decide to attend the festival on the spur of the moment: be prepared to hunt for accommodation.

“Generally, there are a few last-minute changes and cancellations, so people might still be able to squeeze in somewhere. But it sounds like everything was booked quite quickly this year. I understand the more budget options like the camping ground are pretty booked up and have been for weeks.

“But if it’s a last-minute decision, don’t be discouraged. It’s always worth doing a ring-around because properties can open up at the last minute.”

The festival runs from March 5-8 in Daylesford, Hepburn Springs and surrounds. Pick up next week’s Southern Star for all the ChillOut pictures and information.

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