While the Festival of Sails’ usual Waterfront Festival won’t be seen in 2022, the event’s organisers have put together a new entertainment program to support the arts this year.
The festival has announced it will this year run a new CBD initiative, Gigs by Festival of Sails, when the Royal Geelong Yacht Club’s annual sailing event returns from Saturday, January 22 to Wednesday, January 26.
Festival of Sails chairman Roger Bennett said while the festival’s sailing program will return to its pre-pandemic style after being cancelled last year, ongoing COVID-19 restrictions meant organisers couldn’t deliver the traditional Waterfront Festival, which usually brought thousands of people to the Waterfront.
“That was a difficult decision to have to make, but realistically we had no choice,” Bennett said.
“However, for 2022 we’ve developed a really exciting alternative entertainment program which we hope locals and visitors to Geelong will embrace, which is our ‘Gigs by Festival of Sails’ program bringing live music and local talent to local businesses and venues across the CBD.
“COVID-19 has forced us to innovate, and we think this revised program will really help drive the recovery of our live music, hospitality and events industry, giving a much-needed boost for Geelong businesses and artists.
“Of course, we’re looking forward to getting back to our traditional Waterfront Festival, hopefully for the following year in January 2023.”
Gigs by Festival of Sails will see more than 40 bands, headlined by the The Chantoozies, the Bad Loves, Michael Stangel and Yacht Rock Review, perform across nine CBD venues, including the Regatta Village at the Royal Geelong Yacht Club, Piano Bar, Edge, Lambys and Sailors’ Rest, over the five-day festival.
Bennett said the revised plans were done to ensure the festival would continue to support Geelong businesses that had been doing it tough throughout the pandemic.
“We’re committed to doing whatever we can to support Geelong’s local businesses and venues that have had a tough time during the pandemic,” Bennett said.
“Our ‘Gigs by FoS’ program will generate potential patronage across those venues where up to 5400 customers, locals and visitors will be enjoying the free entertainment but no doubt investing in food and drink while they party, which will generate work and income for business owners and their local staff.
“We think that’s a great initiative which will hopefully be a popular alternative to the traditional waterfront festival we’ve been forced to park for 2022.”
Greater Geelong mayor Stephanie Asher welcomed the change and said the drive to encourage more people to visit CBD venues and support local businesses was a positive one.
“We’re delighted to see festival organisers continuing to offer an entertainment program that our local community and visitors can enjoy and supporting local businesses at the same time is a great initiative,” she said.
Geelong Connected Communities chairman Roger Grant added the new format would also support local performers who had been unable to take to the stage for much of the past 18 months.
“We’re especially delighted to be supporting local bands and performers to get back out there and do what they do best, particularly after the last couple of tough years our local entertainment industry has been through,” he said.