Wintersun enthusiasts Daniel Hall and Kat Creasey are upset the event will leave Tweed Heads and Coolangatta next year.
Wintersun enthusiasts Daniel Hall and Kat Creasey are upset the event will leave Tweed Heads and Coolangatta next year. Crystal Spencer

New festival must go on

A NEW festival to replace the vacating Wintersun will “take years” to surpass the level of success the rock ’n’ roll nostalgia event attained, according to tourism officials.

Plans are in the pipeline for a new festival for Coolangatta and Tweed Heads from 2011 onwards after the shock announcement earlier this week that Wintersun would travel regional New South Wales for at least the next three years.

Meetings between Tweed Tourism, Gold Coast Tourism, Gold Coast City Council and Connecting Southern Gold Coast this week will discuss plans for the new attraction.

Connecting Southern Gold Coast general manager Jim Wilson said it was unclear if the new event would be in the style of Wintersun or something completely different.

“A lot of us feel it should be a similar festival, but I thing it could be time to try something new, such as a seafood festival or a carnival,” Mr Wilson said.

“There appears to be considerable support for maintaining a nostalgia-type event similar to Wintersun though.”

Mr Wilson said it would take years replicate the success Wintersun achieved, which brought in $25 million and more than 80,000 people to the region annually.

“I would say it would take a few years to build up to the level that Wintersun was on,” he said.

“It is my feeling that, arising from these meetings, plus feedback from the many people who have phoned me, a plan to replace Wintersun in 2011 will be developed.”

The New South Wales Government announced on Monday it had secured the rights to Wintersun for the next three years with an option to extend it a further six years.

Port Macquarie will be the first to host the now-travelling festival after more than 20 years in Tweed Heads and Coolangatta.

Tweed Tourism general manager Phil Villiers said there was already a lot of interest from local businesses in creating a new festival.

“We’re hoping to get a strategy and vision to- gether soon, but everyone is keen with moving forward with a new event for 2011,” Mr Villiers said.

Banora Point resident Daniel Hall, who attracted more than 1600 people to his Facebook group “Keep Wintersun in Coolangatta-Tweed”, said he was shocked to hear the festival was moving.

“I always thought it was a bluff; I never thought they would do it,” Mr Hall said.

Wintersun festival director Barry McNamara said discussions for a new festival have undermined his nostalgia event.

“They should be working on bids to bring Wintersun back. It would be a much smarter use of their limited resources,” Mr McNamara said.

Would you welcome a new festival in place of Wintersun? Leave a comment below and vote in our poll above.



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