I can't promise you'll meet Stanley Shunpike, the merry conductor from Harry Potter's Knight Bus aboard the Rotary Eltham Festival double decker, but I can guarantee you are going to have heaps of fun on the weekend of Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th November 2017 - and the double-decker bus ride is only the beginning.
If the pictures from previous years are anything to go by, The Eltham Community really know how to throw a party. There's so much happening, I literally don't know where to start. First up, a double-decker bus will be transporting passengers FREE to the Diamond Valley miniature trains in Eltham Lower Park. Kids of all ages (that means adults, too), love riding these little trains. They're simply charming, and while you're indulging your interest in trains, check out the model train, which will be on display especially at the Alistair Knox Park.
From buses and trains to planes, take a look inside a real-life Flying Doctor aircraft, also situated in the Alistair Knox Park, and learn more about the essential service these airborne doctors provide to people living in rural communities. Then from planes to cars, the ever-popular MG's are coming back to town, lining up for your viewing pleasure like a matchbox set brought to life.
The festival officially opens on Saturday 11th November with the Dudley Dash uphill cycle race and the FReezA concert in the Eltham Town Square featuring some local hip hop and rap artists. The entertainment line-up became so big they need not one, not two, but three stages to host everybody. Might I suggest bringing a chair? You could be here a while thanks to this showcase of local talent. Performances will include singers and bands, dancers, callisthenics, even possible tai chi demonstrations and plenty more. Craig Huggins from Gold FM will be making a special guest appearance and acting as host once the main stage fires up at noon. Situated in the Alistair Knox Park, bring the kids along as there'll be entertainment for them right off the bat, while on the nearby Youth Stage local bands will be battling it out in the ultimate play-off for your listening pleasure and the honour of top gong.
Like every good festival the main activities and stage areas will feature around a market precinct of over 150 stalls selling a range of wares from local businesses to the general community including makers and producers, art and crafters. Plenty of food vendors will be on hand to satisfy every type of craving. Food stalls will include take-home treats as well as 'eat fresh' food and drink options for lunch and dinner, and you'll need to keep your strength up so you can enjoy the rest of the weekend's activities.
The Eltham oval is being dubbed the Have a Go Oval during the festival as everyone is being encouraged to meet their local sporting clubs and give the various sports and activities a try. Nothing but net with the local basketball team, sack races and rock climbing wall.
On Sunday it'll be all hands on rope for the annual Tug of War grudge match. The teams will need plenty of support so if you are not a participant be sure and bring your loudest cheer - while the scooters and skateboarders duelling it out in the Eltham Skate Park will revel in your applause also.
Meet Polly the rainbow lorikeet, Goaty Goat and Charlie the pig when Farmer Daryl brings his Animal Farm to the Festival for a visit. After making a few new friends smaller kids can enjoy FREE rides and impromptu shows by the roving entertainers. There'll be face painting, along with a range of other see and do activities. A larger carnival section will cater to older thrill seekers including sideshow amusements. Then, if you need a bit of quiet time out, the Yarra Plenty Library will have a chill-out zone where you can escape the bustle and relax for a spell.
One of the festival highlights is always the Eltham Festival Fireworks. Launching at 9pm on Saturday, the night sky will become centre stage with a spectacular explosion of colour. Have dinner at the festival before thanks to the selection of onsite food trucks and vendors, as live music will carry on well into the night. Bring a rug, bunk in and enjoy the festival right through to the very end.
The Rotary Eltham Festival is being held on Saturday 11th November and Sunday 12th November 2017 around Eltham, including the Alistair Knox Park and Eltham Central Park Oval and you can find out more about the festival on the Rotary Eltham Festival website by following the link here.