Firelight Festival to return

Firelight Festival to return
Sean Car

Firelight Festival will return to Docklands from July 21 to 25 with a record investment of $1.85 million, including $850,000 from the Victorian Government to extend the event from three to five nights, after the event was cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19.

The announcement was part of a $21.5 million investment in major events included in the City of Melbourne’s 2021-22 budget revealed on May 25.

Pending COVID restrictions, the council said that the extended event would transform Docklands with flame jets, fire twirlers and flaming sculptures between 5.30pm and 10.30pm each night from Wednesday, July 21 to Sunday, July 25.

“In 2019 Firelight Festival attracted 75,000 people to Docklands and provided a huge boost for our municipality with $4 million in economic impact,” Lord Mayor Sally Capp said.

“Firelight Festival’s return is a light at the end of the tunnel for Docklands businesses that have been trading under incredibly tough conditions and need the boost in visitation that Firelight Festival will bring.”

“Events will be a major driver of our city’s economic recovery and this funding supports jobs in a sector that was one of the hardest hit by the pandemic.”

Other city events funded as part of the council’s latest budget include the Christmas Festival, New Year’s Eve, Moomba, Melbourne Fashion Week, Melbourne Knowledge Week and Melbourne Music Week.

A further $2 million has been allocated to the Event Partnership Program to support localised events.

The joint $200 million Melbourne City Revitalisation Fund in partnership with the Victorian Government will contribute to boosting events and cultural sectors during the next two years.

City activation portfolio lead Cr Roshena Campbell said events would be critical to the city’s economic recovery.

“Our pedestrian data shows people flock to the city for our major events and they play a critical role in supporting local businesses and creating jobs,” Cr Campbell said.

“Melbourne is one of the world’s most liveable cities and investing in top-tier events makes our city a better place for residents, workers, visitors and local businesses.”

While the news of a return and expansion of the Firelight Festival is welcome news for Docklands, the community continues to await information regarding more permanent and ongoing activations outlined in Development Victoria’s Docklands Activation Strategy.

Alto Cibum – the company charged with creating the strategy – began its process last year during the height of the pandemic and the strategy’s release for public consultation was originally expected to occur in December.

But Docklands News understands that the strategy is still with State Cabinet, as the government awaits the outcome of the ongoing legal battle between Development Victoria and the tenants of Central Pier regarding the pier’s 2019 closure.

City of Melbourne councillors have also yet to be briefed on the strategy •

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