Festival Of Sails

Festival of Sails back bigger and better in 2023, celebrating 180 years of the iconic Passage Race and ready to party!


Geelong’s Festival of Sails will be celebrating a major milestone and is ready to party when it returns in January 2023, as it salutes the 180th anniversary of its iconic Passage Race between Melbourne and Geelong. 


The Passage Race normally attracts more than 200 entries as boats and yachts of all classes take to the waters of Port Phillip Bay for the opening challenge of the four-day regatta, which will run from Thursday, January 26 to Sunday, January 29, 2023. 


According to Festival of Sails Chairman, Paul Buchholz the proudly Geelong-based event is a firm favourite with sailors from all over Australia, and he expects the opportunity to be part of the 180th anniversary celebrations will be even more of a reason for many of them to head to Corio Bay. 


The Festival is Australia’s oldest sporting event – older than the Melbourne Cup which began in 1861, older than The Ashes which began in 1882 and looking overseas, older than Wimbledon, which began in in 1887 and the America’s Cup which began in 1851! 


“You can’t deny the importance of any event hitting such a momentous milestone and we are incredibly proud of how the Festival of Sails showcases not only the best of competitive sailing, but also the very best of Geelong and our region,” said Mr Buchholz. 


“After more than two years of waves of Covid-related restrictions and interruptions to businesses and events, we think the 180th anniversary is a pretty good reason to celebrate, and we’ll be inviting everyone to join us!” 


And while it has long been known for its exciting action on the water, the Festival has also become a favorite entertainment destination over the traditional January 26 holiday break.  


According to Event Director Steve Harper, as the event gets set to party, the entertainment lineup has been reinvented to appeal to a more diverse local and visiting audience.  


The jangle pop quartet Quivers will be one of the headline acts, along with ‘Skyscraper’ Stan Woodhouse, Indie rocker Tam Vantage, cosmic-country-rocker Ben Mastwyk, Winter McQuinn, 

and Jess Locke, to name just a few of the independent and emerging artists hitting the stages. 


And for the lovers of old school Aussie rock hits and faves, The Badloves, Chocolate Starfish and The Chantoozies are set to deliver a veritable musical feast of classic Aussie rock and pop gems from the 90’s to now.   


Local family favourites the Mik Maks – who have now notched up 2.6 billion streams on their You Tube channel – will also be delighting the kids.


And it will be a farewell performance from the eye-catching and favourite stilt walking street performers Rory and Ochie and the Giant Seagulls. 


The RAAF Roulettes will thrill the crowds with an ear-splitting flyover and demonstration of their high-speed aerobatics at 3pm on January 26 before the annual Fireworks display fires up to celebrate the opening of the Festival at 9.15 pm. 


Mr Buchholz also welcomed the ongoing financial support of the Victorian Government and the City of Greater Geelong saying, “An event like ours simply couldn’t exist without the consistent and generous support of the Victorian Government and the City of Greater Geelong.” 


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