MOVE over Vivid Sydney: Lake Macquarie will light up for its very own colourful spectacular later this month.
The region's popular boating regatta, Float Your Boat, sees dozens of boats light up the night skies and calm waters of Lake Macquarie near Newcastle.
Held from dusk on June 28 and 29, and with $4000 in cash prizes on offer, the event will feature two flotilla parades following a course from Marmong Point Marina to Toronto, Coal Point, Fishing Point and Wangi Wangi on the first night, and then on the second night, from Marmong Point Marina to Warners Bay, Eleebana and Valentine to Belmont.
Last year's event was voted the most impressive ever, featuring an amazing parade of boats lit up as octopuses, dolphins, surfers and swans. There was- even a 14-metre mermaid.
With even bigger crowds expected this year, the pressure is on for boaters to take their decorations to the next level to claim their share of prizemoney.
Spectators can join foreshore celebrations featuring live music, food and entertainment.
Pull up a seat...
Toronto foreshore: A top spot to catch night one's festivities. Take your picnic blanket, find a grassy spot and enjoy a feast for the eyes, with a marina full of twinkling boats. Or try one of Toronto's restaurants - from cheap American eats at Greg and Audrey's (you can't go past the crazy flavoured hotdogs and house made ice-cream) to delicious oysters or double roast duck at Hughzies Lakeside Brasserie.
Warners Bay foreshore:This is the ultimate place to catch the passing flotilla and enjoy some foreshore fun. The festival begins from 10am with market stalls and entertainment. At dusk Warners Bay will light up, followed by a night of live music, entertainment (including an LED hula hoop and fire show), gourmet food vans and specialty stalls.
Grab a bite...
In the cooler months, dining around the lake takes on a magical quality, with heated outdoor areas, cosy winter menus and seasonal events aplenty.
Belmont 16s, the region's nationally recognised sailing club, features three bars and five dining outlets offering bistro favourites, light meals, fresh seafood, sizzling steaks, pizza and burgers. There are cocktail areas and alfresco lounges, a tucked-away play area for children and a sweeping deck boasting 180-degree views of the lake and prime front row seats to enjoy the parade.
Restaurant Salina serves modern Italian for all tastes, with standard, vegetarian, gluten free and vegan menus available, and an intimate heated courtyard perfect for winter nights.
There's a wide range of cosy accommodation, from mountain hideaways to lakeside retreats.
To plan your winter escape or discover more of what Lake Macquarie has to offer, click HERE