Tasmanian Chamber Music Festival, October 2017. Image: Melanie De Ruyter.

Arts stories

Winter wonderland

Winter wonderland - bonfire

Bang on a beanie. Pull out the puffer. Get ready to hit the streets as Tassie’s quirky winter festivities fire up.

When the cold descends, Hobart heats up with its unique winter festivals, which not only draw out locals in their thousands, but also attract throngs of tourists.

Dark Mofo and the Festival of Voices have put an end to the mid-winter slump and changed the face of Tassie tourism forever. Further south, head to the Huon for a spot of wassailing and other pagan delights.

Winter is definitely becoming the hottest ticket in town!

"We have a competitive advantage in Tasmania in winter,” Alex Heroys from Destination Southern Tasmania explains.

"It used to be viewed as a negative, but it’s now very much a positive. People want winter experiences, they want to come here when it’s cold. They can rug up, sit by the fire, enjoy whisky, and do all those great things that make us proud to be Tasmanian.”

Dark delights
Winter wonderland - dark mofo

Winter wonderland - dark mofo

Dark Mofo is THE hot winter ticket.

Subversive offerings sell out as soon as they’re released; it’s standing room only around fire pits at the Winter Feast; and half of Hobart drops their kit for the Nude Solstice Swim.

Strange dreams. Restless nights. Dark forests. Subterranean tunnels. Expect that, and more, when three weeks of mayhem kick off in early June for Dark Mofo’s seventh outing.

Oh, and don’t forget to 'Paint the Town Red'.

"We want everyone - all the businesses, all the houses – to start lighting up red, which is about building the festival into the heart of the community,” Alex adds.

"It gets to the point where you have to get all your kids in the car, drive around, and see all the red installations all over the place. And that’s a great way to build community support for the festival as well!”

Raising voices
Winter wonderland - big sing

Winter wonderland - big sing

It all began as a bit of a sing-song 15 years ago.

Now the sight of hundreds of revellers gathered around a giant bonfire and singing their hearts out in the cold winter night has become an iconic Hobart image.

This rousing Salamanca event is the highlight of the Festival of Voices, a celebration of song that runs from the end of June to mid-July, and ranges from spontaneous community chorus to exquisite soulful performance.

The Festival of Voices is light and joyful. The perfect foil to the menace of Dark Mofo.

Pagan procession
Winter wonderland - Huon midwinter festival

Winter wonderland - Huon midwinter festival

Head south of Hobart and stumble headfirst into a bizarre world of dark pagan rituals, designed to bear fruit for the season ahead. That’s one way to guarantee a bumper apple crop!

The Huon Valley Mid-Winter Fest is a clashing mixture of 'Wassailing’ – a banging of pots and pans to scare the ghouls out of orchards – fire, folklore, and feasting. There are strange processions with odd beasts, burning effigies, candlelight, even gifts for the apple trees.

Held over a mid-July weekend it’s like nothing you have ever experienced before! And that’s a certainty.

You’ll become immersed in an off-beat winter wonderland of quirky characters and experiences. Come to think of it – that’s pretty much winter in Tassie to a ‘T’.

Images courtesy of Festival of Voices and The Mercury

25 May 2019, Edition 205

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