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Monday 7 May 2018

Festival is a great excuse to visit Tasmania this winter

The Dark MOFO festival and the Festival of Voices are compelling reasons to venture to Tasmania this winter, along with a fun rural event that draws huge crowds to the southernmost region of Australia.

The Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival, hosted by cider producers Willie Smith's, is one of  Australia’s most quirky festival experiences launches. 

In the depths of winter and on the chilliest of days, festival-goers will join in waking up winter when the fifth festival runs from July 13-15 at Willie Smith’s Apple Shed, south of Hobart.

The three-day program of pagan-inspired celebration is expected to attract close to 20,000 visitors. 

“It’s an other-worldly event that’s based around the ancient pagan ritual of bringing good luck for the upcoming harvest in the hope of great crop.” explains festival director Sam Reid.

“Last year we had 15,000 people flock to the festival and have such a great time enjoying a perfect melding of irresistible local food, wine, beer and, of course, cider, warming bonfires, mesmerising folk music, dancing and storytelling.” 

Many festivalgoers wear traditional pagan outfits, which involve ‘tatters’, painted faces and top hats, dating back to the 1500s when dancers in the Welsh borders used to dress up and cover their faces so neighbours wouldn’t recognise them as they begged for money on the streets.

The festival starts on the Friday night with a traditional welcome ceremony, produced by Nayri Niara, uniting Aboriginal traditions and contemporary innovations for optimistic action and healing incorporating the burning of a 15-metre-tall effigy to collectively let go of negative energy and make way for the new.

Saturday kicks of with a bang with the giant bonfire and the main event, the traditional ‘wassail’ - the purpose of which is to awake the cider apple trees and to scare away evil spirits to ensure a good harvest of fruit in the Autumn. 

“This is a traditional pagan ceremony originating from the apple growing region of the south-west of England which is celebrated to this day," said Reid. "The focus of the wassail is to wake up the dormant apple trees in the hope of a good harvest in the coming season and signifies the days lengthening and the sun getting stronger as we transition from winter to autumn."

This year the Sunday Family Fun day is ramping up with a range of children’s entertainment including the kids wassail, kids maypole dancing, kids yoga, a secret kids HIDEOUT and flower crown workshops. The day will also feature Sydney children’s band The Vegetable Plot who are touring their new album. 

“The festival has transformed the Huon Valley at a traditionally quiet time and this year we are expecting even more people to come and see what the festival is all about because we have attracted some awesome interstate performers," said Reid.

For more details and ticketing head to the website:

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