Picture this: fairy lights strung in trees to chase away the dark, food vendors serving up delicious dinners and children dancing in the street.
That’s the sight that awaits attendees of the Festival of Lights on Saturday (25 March) in Cootamundra, organisers say.
Business Cootamundra manager Leah Sutherland, a member of the team organising the festival, said the community was keenly awaiting the event’s return following a successful debut last year.
“The town’s buzzing at the moment, they’re really excited!” she said.
Several crowd-favourite elements from 2022 will return this year, joining some new attractions.
In 2023, festival-goers will be able to take in entertainment throughout the evening, including the Mirror Man and Lady, who are covered in mirrors.
“They’re amazing, we’re really excited to see them, so that’s something really different,” Ms Sutherland said.
There will also be several other light-based attractions, including LED-lit fairy wings and a light tunnel people can walk through.
Additionally, they can jam out to live music from local band One Shot Too Many and cover band The Young Ones from nearby Young, while award-winning country band Darlinghurst will be the headliners on the night.
For those looking for a feed, Ms Sutherland said various restaurants and pubs would be open, and attendees could alternatively bring a picnic basket to share with family and friends under the glow of the lights.
Attendees will be unable to bring alcohol into the festival, but there will be a pop-up bar for adults inside the event.
Several community groups will also be selling food as a fundraiser to support their activities and programs, such as Can Assist, the Sacred Heart Parents and Friends Association, the Lions club and the RSL Veterans Drop-in Centre, which recently opened a shopfront.
The festival took its name from the fairy lights that have been hung in trees along Parker Street, following a grant to Cootamundra–Gundagai Regional Council.
“That’s where the idea came from, to have a get-together in the main street,” Ms Sutherland said.
Traffic will be blocked off and tables will be set out along the street, giving Cootamundra locals and visitors alike places to sit under the shining lights.
“The whole idea of the Festival of Lights is to get out in amongst these beautiful fairy lights that we’ve got,” Ms Sutherland said.
She said a wide range of attendees was expected.
“We have lots of people that we know are coming from out of town, so it should be bigger and better than last year.”
The festival was a chance for the community to come together and relax after a rough few years, Ms Sutherland said.
“It’s a family event, and the focus is more on getting out and just enjoying each other’s company,” she said.
“Last year we had [people in their] 90s dancing alongside three-year-olds – it was just magic, really nice.”
The festival will be held this Saturday (25 March) in Parker Street from 6 pm to 10:30 pm.
Entry is free.