The Hepburn Swiss Italian Festa is a community festival that celebrates the enduring contribution of Swiss Italian migrants who came to the Hepburn Springs/ Daylesford region during the 1850s gold rushes. These Italian speakers came from the villages and towns on either side of the Swiss Italian border. Into a world of mutton, potatoes and beer, they brought salami, pasta and wine.
The early Swiss Italians recognised the quality of the local mineral springs and lobbied to protect them from the destructive practices of the prospectors. They started building stone houses with cellars and wells. They planted grape vines, olive trees and orchards. Australia’s first pasta factory was built in 1859, and still stands in Hepburn Springs.
The Festa draws on the traditions of these early settlers and their neighbours and friends. It’s a celebration of 170 years of “taking the waters”, and the continuing culture of good food, wine and architecture of our region that is built on that legacy. All are welcome to the celebrations at the Festa.
The Festa includes traditional and artisanal food and wine, parades, performances, art shows, heritage tours, bocce tournaments, and fireworks. Key local partners Lavandula Swiss Italian Farm, Bellinzona Resort and the Palais-Hepburn theatre present major music and food events, and local restaurants, wineries, spas and bathhouses also offer special programs.
The first Swiss Italian Festa was first staged in 1993 and ran for 25 years. The Festa will return to Hepburn Shire over four days from 21-24 October 2021. We hope you will join us.