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Willoughby Spring Festival

Although wintertime in Chatswood can hardly be called 'bleak', the Willoughby Spring Festival, organised by Willoughby Council, is a great way to slough off sleepy shackles and embrace warmer days.

What is the Willoughby Spring Festival?

Traditionally held in September (since 1997), the Willoughby Spring Festival is a series of events celebrating the arts, culture, business and environment in the Willoughby Council Area. It encompasses exhibitions, shows, awards, concerts and open days throughout the municipality.

The Willoughby Street Fair
Much of the Spring Festival celebration centres on the Willoughby Street Fair, hosted along Victoria Avenue in Chatswood. The Street Fair is primarily a showcase for the performing arts, small retailers and community projects. The fair opens with a parade down Victoria Avenue, with the convoy of floats giving a taste of the performances to come.

Performances occur on a number of themed stages; the Global Friendship stage hosts multicultural performances such as traditional dance and music, the Wibilly Kids Zone Stage presents fun, family-friendly fare appropriate for younger age groups, Y(outh) Lounge accommodates performances for and by adolescents and Chatswood Mall (where Melody Market performers hold court on Thursdays) becomes an arena for dance groups from schools and private studios.

A neighbourhood of temporary retail and information stalls line Victoria Avenue. The retailers generally comprise of food, clothing and accessory stalls, (some familiar via their appearance at the Chatswood Melody Markets), while the information stalls are a mix of political stands, non-government organisations (NGOs), clubs and community group outlets related to the Willoughby Council area.

Due to council's increased focus on the environment, Sustainability Street is an initiative that groups eco-friendly stalls in one areas, providing representatives ready to answer residents' questions, environmental NGOs and bushcare groups hoping to sign on a few more volunteers.

The Arts
The Willoughby Spring Festival provides an opportunity for galleries and studios on the North Shore to display the spectrum visual arts talent in the area. The most significant event in this sector is the Willoughby Art Prize, which draws hundreds of entries from around Australia.

Similarly, musicians in the area tune up for the diverse and numerous concerts clustered around this period. Groups include choirs, orchestras, jazz bands and cultural dance music presented by individuals, schools and cultural groups.

Theatres around the municipality run shows for all ages, including storytelling for kids, musicals and stage plays with popular appeal.

Green thumbs are invited to display their pride and joy at the flower shows open during the Spring Festival season, such as the North Shore Orchid Society Spring Show. Another notable event is the Northside Garden Fair, where earthy types can reap information from nursery professionals, listen in on talks or enter the gardening competition. To get some inspiration, why not take a wander around one of the many gardens that open their gates to the public at this time?

Let's not forget the commercial side of the community, where local businesses vie for recognition at the annual business awards. Several category winners, from cafes to fashion stores, hairdressing salons to car dealers, are announced. In the end, however, the community always wins.