Colours reflecting off the Moyne River, jazz music floating down Sackville Street and families wandering market stalls were the scenes in Port Fairy as its Winter Weekends kicked-off to regional visitors.
The most popular event was the sold-out children's ceramic workshops, while hundreds flocked to the Railway Place community market as a full range of stalls returned.
Port Fairy's Bridie Halliday visited the markets with children Ruby and Piper and said she was rapt to see crowds in the town, despite COVID-19 restrictions keeping Melburnians away for the Queen's Birthday weekend.
"We are very lucky to live in the country and have these freedoms," she said.
"It's a lot busier than usual, so it looks like a lot have travelled from around the countryside."
Rob O'Connell, from Bannockburn, was visiting Peterborough for the long-weekend and drove to Port Fairy for the festival with 13 of his family members.
"This is just within a couple of hours drive from home and you can spend a couple of days regionally," he said.
"We just like the country feel."
Port Fairy's Keith Curtain had family visiting from Geelong for the festival and was pleased patches of sun had drawn people outdoors on Saturday.
"We'll have a tour of Tower Hill and take in all the local attractions," he said.
"We're looking forward to the lightshow (in Port Fairy) tonight."
Port Fairy resident Harry Bracegridle has lit up eight Moyne River houses in fluorescent rainbow colours for the festival, which have proven the most popular attraction, according to the festival's co-ordinator Amy Armstrong.
"Last year we lit up Wishart Street, the year before it was strategic buildings around town ... (But) you get such a pivotal effect with the reflections on the river," she said.
"They were so positively received."
A number of events had to be cancelled or postponed due to health restrictions, but Ms Armstrong said there was "vibrancy" despite the changes.
"I think we can feel the difference in town with no Melburnians being here. This weekend is comparable to one the big weekends over summer," she said.
"But to be honest, most of the events that are on have sold out.
"Once Melburnians are able to leave they will. We were able to reschedule events, and what we have on offer in the later weekends is bigger."
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