Mattara Festival move to Wallsend Park doubles crowd size

They may have been nervous about their first time out of the inner city, but organisers of the annual Mattara Festival say the move west has been an overwhelming success.

And with two days remaining in the week-long festival, Wallsend Park is favoured as the new permanent home for the 56-year-old event.

The Mattara Festival moved from Newcastle CBD to Wallsend Park this year because of road work and upgrades linked to the Newcastle 500 Supercars race.

Organising committee president Britt Osborne told the Newcastle Herald that she estimated about 20,000 people had visited the festival as of Friday.

She said this was roughly double the number of visitors through the gates in each of the previous two years of the event in the CBD.

“It’s really worked out better than ever,” Ms Osborne said.

“The first weekend was really, really good – mid week has been better than expected – we are hoping for a bumper weekend.”

Since it started in 1961, the festival – which celebrates the arrival of spring – has moved from Civic Park to Camp Shortland.

While no official decision had been made about where to hold future Mattara Festivals, Ms Osborne said there was a feeling among organisers that Wallsend Park should continue to host the event.

“I’m not the only person on the committee but, in saying that, speaking to the other committee people, everyone is keen to stay here because it’s been so good,” she said.

“I would say it’ll probably take another year or so before we educate people [as to] where we are.

“We were very nervous [about the move], but we kind of thought, the family population is out here and it’s like the gateway to Newcastle, but you just never know until you try.”

Markets will be a big draw-card on Saturday, with a host of stall holders expected to sell their wares at the festival.

A range of entertainers, rides and activities will continue across the weekend, before the festival wraps up at 3pm on Sunday.