Related: Should Bendigo host White Night?
A battle is brewing between Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong to host an all night festival of lights next year after the state government said the all night festival of illumination would travel outside of Melbourne for the first time in 2017.
Pundits delivered mixed reviews for White Night 2016, which drew an estimated 580,000 people to the Melbourne’s CBD on Saturday night.
But on Saturday the Andrews government said it not remained committed to the event, it was seeking expressions of interest as it looked for a regional city to be a co-host in 2017.
Mayor Rod Fyffe said that given the city’s architecture and history of hosting international events, Bendigo could draw spectators from as far afield as Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide who might be put off by the crush of people who attend the Melbourne event.
“It’s terrific that the state government is looking at bringing the event to the regions and we’ve got the skills to run it very successfully – and not only the skills, but the architecture too,” Cr Fyffe said.
“Our heritage buildings – like the Cathedral, the Law Courts, The Shamrock Hotel, the Town Hall and even the [Hargreaves] Mall – they’d an absolute treat with moving images and light projected on them.
“We would really put give it a red hot go and I’m confident that if [White Night] came to Bendigo we’d make a huge success of it.”
City Futures interim director Pauline Gordon said Bendigo was looking into the proposal but was unlikely to offer funding from its coffers given it was midway through the process of drafting its 2016/2017 budget.
“We’ll certainly try to work with the state government and this would be new and exciting,” Ms Gordon said.
“But given that we already have over 90 major events, we’d have to ensure no costs were incurred to the local community… so we’ll have to look into what hosting the event would actually mean.”
When Premier Daniel Andrews first floated the idea of taking the festival beyond Melbourne last year, he identified Bendigo as one of three potential options, along with Geelong and Ballarat.
Ballarat mayor Des Hudson told The Courier that Ballarat would be willing to “stick up their hand” for the job of hosting next year’s festival.
“I would like to say we’re ahead of the pack,” he said.
We know Ballarat can do events really well. We would embrace it,”Ballarat mayor Des Hudson
But Ms Gordon said Bendigo had already hosted similar events – citing projections on the Discovery Centre and the Rosalind Park Conservatory.
“If the council deemed it was an opportunity we wanted to have, we’d work with local community in working out which other buildings we could work magic on,” she said.