UPDATE 6.51pm: BENDIGO council is hopeful the city will have an opportunity to host its second White Night in 2019, following the success of the inaugural event.
Mayor Margaret O’Rourke said yesterday’s event showcased Bendigo at its best.
“People were overwhelmed, I think,” she said.
“It was an extraordinary event.”
She was pleased by the support for White Night Bendigo.
“I heard very positive feedback from businesses I’d spoken to about doing numbers like they’d never done before," Cr O’Rourke said.
All of the city’s motels were booked out, according to Bendigo Moteliers Association president and City Centre Motel owner Simon Wurf.
“The feedback I got from the people staying here was, in general, all positive,” Mr Wurf said.
Masons of Bendigo’s Sonia Anthony said the city’s White Night was “an absolute hit for hospitality”.
“There were so many people around town – it was awesome,” Mrs Anthony said.
While she said Saturday night trade at the restaurant was always really strong, White Night made for an especially busy and extended lunch service.
“A lot of people coming in to town like to spend the weekend,” Mrs Anthony said.
She said all of the attendees at this week’s Food Fossicking tour had come to the city for White Night and spent the hours ahead of the event exploring Bendigo.
Both Cr O’Rourke and Bendigo tourism and major events manager Terry Karamaloudis were hopeful the city would have an opportunity to host a second White Night.
Mr Karamaloudis said he was waiting on information about the regional White Night model will look like in 2019, as the Melbourne event is shifted to winter and expanded from one day to three.
“I think the regional model will look different in 2019,” he said.
Given the success of last night’s festivities, Mr Karamaloudis believed Bendigo would be at the top of the pecking order for choices to stage further events.
He was grateful to the state government for its confidence in Bendigo to host an event like White Night, and for the positive responses from the city’s food and hospitality sector.
The economic benefits of White Night Bendigo have yet to be calculated.
But, much like Cr O’Rourke, Mr Karamaloudis said the businesses he spoke with last night reported a significant increase in trade, with some even doubling their usual Saturday night business.
“That has to be positive,” he said.
He believed the popularity of last night’s event was partially attributable to the profile Bendigo had built over the years of being a centre for arts and cultural excellence.
Cr O’Rourke noted the event’s popularity with families, and said it was lovely to see children getting involved.
Mr Karamaloudis said the event delivered a boost to people’s pride in their community.
He was aware of only two arrests by police throughout the evening, both of which Bendigo police said were related to drinking in public.
EARLIER: MORE than 60,000 people attended Bendigo’s first White Night, according to the event’s organisers.
Visit Victoria chief executive Peter Bingeman said the event was a ‘major success’, which far exceeded expectations.
Organisers had been expecting White Night Bendigo to attract about 40,000 people.
“We’re very pleased with the success of our very first White Night Bendigo event,” Mr Bingeman said.
White Night artistic director and executive producer David Atkins attributed the success of the Bendigo event to support from the state government, Visit Victoria, the Bendigo council, the public and the artists and performers.
“Bendigo has a rich and diverse cultural community and White Night provided them with the opportunity to use this beautiful city as the canvas for their art and performances, with record-breaking crowds as the enthusiastic recipients,” Mr Atkins said.
Victoria’s first regional White Night, in Ballarat, attracted 40,000 people in 2017.
About 60,000 people were estimated to have attended the second White Night Ballarat earlier this year.
White Night Bendigo featured more than 50 projections, installations, performances, exhibitions and music in the streets, laneways, parks and landmark buildings of the Bendigo’s CBD.
Mr Atkins said more than half of the artists and performers involved were from Bendigo and regional Victoria.
Yesterday’s event followed on the success of White Night events in Melbourne and Ballarat.
Geelong will host its first White Night in six weeks.
“At Visit Victoria, it’s our primary objective to drive visitation to our regional towns and cities,” Mr Bingeman said.
He said White Night Bendigo further solidified Victoria’s position as the leading major events state in Australia.
“It’s fantastic to see the continued success of White Night and support from our surrounding communities who make this event possible,” Mr Bingeman said.
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