Forget decking the halls with holly and head to Young this week to see the town’s beautiful old buildings adorned with vivid and bright glowing colours.
Smack bang in the middle of harvest – be it stone fruit, wheat, canola, chickpeas or barley – Young is set to come alive for a festival which celebrates the cherry.
Visitors to the South West Slopes town during the weekend of 3-5 December can expect plenty of fun and surprises at the new look cherry harvest festival, with a Very Cherry Street Party, light installations, roving entertainers, busking, a pop-up art exhibition, and augmented reality activities to create a distinctive new vibe.
Cherry harvest celebrations in the Hilltops region have switched from the traditional National Cherry Festival activities to a slimmed down version, Cherry Festival Lite, which promises fresh new spectacles and activities to delight all.
“The move away from the traditional National Cherry Festival format was necessitated by COVID-19 restrictions that ruled out most time-honoured events of the past,” says National Cherry Festival Committee president Caitlin Sheehan.
“This has made way for a fresh approach this year, with a more community-based event dictated by necessity. However, when health orders change, the committee expects a return to a more traditional, expansive festival in future years.”
Cherry Festival Lite offers a smorgasbord of attractions, including A Very Cherry Street Party with late-night shopping from 5 pm to 9 pm on Friday night, 3 December, and a Very Cherry Street Party from 9 am to 12 pm on Saturday, 4 December.
By night, light installations will illuminate some of the beautiful old Boorowa Street buildings in myriad colours, patterns and designs, from sunset to 10 pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
This will be augmented by the town’s business and residential Christmas light display and competition, with big prizes to be won and customers invited to vote for their favourites.
Street entertainers, including circus performers, acrobats and street buskers such as Burlesque Muse ACT winner Sian Brigid, will be out and about offering unique experiences for shoppers, visitors, feasters and frolickers with surprise elements delivered by Hilltops Regional Theatre Company.
For kids, and maybe some adults, an augmented reality colouring-in activity in the town’s main street gives you the chance to bring to life your own colouring-in character as it transforms into a quirky video.
The festival program includes the popular Young & Region Farmers Markets each day of the weekend from 9 am to 1 pm at Anderson Park. This is where you can get the best of what this part of Australia offers, including traditional jams, preserves, local honey, lemon curd, farm fresh duck, quail and chicken eggs, vegetables, fruit, wines and festive season delights.
Also in Anderson Park, the town’s grand old railway station – now home to the tourist information office – will play host to a Saturday pop-up art exhibition on the railway platform, with works from the Young Society of Artists on display, accompanied by musical entertainment from local performer Judy Barker.
The Millard Centre Christmas Market – with its stalls laden with festival gifts – is always a sell-out. It also offers visitors the opportunity to wander around the old three-storey showpiece building, with many locally made quilts lining the walls during the festival exhibition.
There is no Young Cherry Festival without a coronation, and the official crowning of the Cherry King/Queen takes place on Saturday evening during a ticketed dinner at Young Services Club.
But the cherry on the cake will be Saturday night’s Giant Fun Fair, a standalone event at Young Showground with carnival rides and Saturday night fireworks.
People wishing to come to Young to partake of everything cheery and cherry should plan ahead by visiting the Hilltops Region Visitor Information website.
Most pick-your-own orchards are taking bookings to comply with COVID-19 restrictions, but cherries by the bucket, carton and caseload are available from roadside stalls.
For more information, head to Cherry Festival Lite. The event runs in Young from 3-5 December, 2021.