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Saturday 26 November 2016

The best time to visit Tasmania starts now

Let's be honest. The Tasmanian winter can be long, cold and sometimes dispiriting. Once the sun comes out, however, the Apple Isle blossoms. 

There are festivals galore and open-air gourmet events by the dozen. Tasmania really knows how to turn it on in the warmer months. 

There are superyachts sailing into Hobart, feasting, foraging, sports events and more. 

The big drawcards like the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, MOFO, the Falls Festival and the Australian Wooden Boat Festival are all back, along with the Taste of Tasmania, the National Penny Farthing Championship and the Cygnet Folk Festival. 

Here's a list of some of the major attractions, but be quick, both flights and accommodation sell out over the December-February period. It's all too easy to miss out. 

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race – December 26 onwards
Some of the fastest yachts in the world sail from Sydney down the coast to Hobart, starting from Sydney Harbour on Boxing Day. After 628 nautical miles of unpredictable weather, the doughty sailors cross the finish line at Constitution Dock in Hobart. 

KFC T20 Big Bash League - Various Dates
The Hobart Hurricanes (perennial under-achievers, unfortunately) return to Blundstone Arena for the KFC T20 Big Bash League – cricket’s 20-over, fast-paced competition. Kids tickets start at $8 and adults from $23.

The Taste of Tasmania – December 28-January 3
Tasmania's popular summer event (despite regular organisational glitches) is held on the waterfront and offers the chance to sample fresh seafood, cheeses, berries, cool-climate wines, boutique beers and ciders and much more. The hottest ticket in town is for the New Year’s Eve Party, with live entertainment from special guest Kate Cebrano.

The Falls Music and Arts Festival – December 29-January 1 
The Avalanches, London Grammar, Childish Gambino, Bernard Fanning and You Am I are among the headliners for this annunal music and arts festival, now in its 24th year. Think food truck, camping, pop-up bars and beer gardens and yoga and wellness classes. 

Cygnet Folk Festival – January 6-8 
The Cygnet Folk Festival is Tasmania’s largest celebration of folk and world music. Local, interstate and international artists descend on the small Huon Valley town, for a weekend of live performances, dance, poetry and local produce. This is the 35th time the event has been held. 

Hobart International Tennis – January 8-14 
This is one of the warm-up tournaments for the Australian Open, and a chance to check out some of the female stars of the future. Previous editions have attracted the likes of Serena Williams, Garbine Muguruza and Sam Stosur.

The Esk Beerfest – January 13-14 
With over 200 craft beers and ciders to enjoy, along with distilled spirits and local foods, the Esk Beerfest is one of the island’s largest craft beer and cider festivals. The Esk Beerfest also plays host to three stages featuring live music, masterclasses, family activities and brewer forums.

MOFO - January 18-20 
The eccentric MOFO (MONA's Festival of Music and Art) returns to venues around the city as well as a big weekend at MONA. Curated by Brian Ritchie (Violent Femmes), this is an offbeat celebration of art, music and food. Highlights around the city include Peaches performing the whole of Jesus Christ Superstar solo at the Theatre Royal and street art by Cigdem Aydemir. 

Barnbougle Polo – January 21
Barnbougle Dunes is best known as a Mecca for golf enthusiasts but it changes direction to host the Barnbougle Polo annual high-goal match. World-class players head for north-east Tasmania for an event arguably as much about fashion as it is about horses and polo.

Hobart Beerfest – January 27-28
Hobart Beerfest showcases over 200 local, interstate and international craft beers, ciders and premium spirits on Hobart’s waterfront, at Prince's Wharf 1. Beer enthusiasts will love direct access to the brewers, masterclasses touching on the latest in trends and craft styles, roaming performers, a dash of comedy and live music.

Festivale – February 10-12
Festivale draws thousands of people over three days to enjoy the best of Tasmanian food, wine, beer, arts and entertainment. Staged in Launceston’s picturesque City Park under old shady elm trees, there is the chance to sample cool-climate wines, meet the producers and enjoy a program of workshops and entertainment.

Australian Wooden Boat Festival – February 10-13
Ludicrously scheduled the same weekend as Festivale, the Australian Wooden Boat Festival brings together the largest and most beautiful collection of wooden boats in the Southern Hemisphere for a four-day festival that also programs local food, live entertainment, music, demonstrations and displays. 

National Penny Farthing Championship – February 18 
The National Penny Farthing Championships began in Evandale back in 1983, a quiet village outside Launceston. Now it’s one of the most hotly contested Penny Farthing races in the world - the fastest eight riders advance through heats to the final race of four laps of the circuit. Add to that entertainment, steam engine displays, local food and drinks, pony rides and a dose of country hospitality. 

Koonya Garlic Festival – February 25
The rich soils of Tasmania’s south-east produce some of the best garlic in the world - garlic that is celebrated at this quirky festival. The fiercely contested ‘golden globe’ awards are a highlight of the festival, alongside food, entertainment and guest speakers.

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