A decade or so ago, Tasmania used to hibernate during winter. Today, the islanders embrace their chilly point of difference with a range of festivals and cultural activities.
With air fares that are lower (to match the mercury), winter is an ideal time to visit Tasmania and enjoy a few fireside activities - indoors or out.
Here are some of the highlights:
Bay of Fires Winter Arts Festival, June 9-11 This regional festival highlights the artistry of local painters, sculptors, dancers, writers and musicians. A busy program of events, workshops, dance, fine art, gardens and exhibitions will lead visitors across the Bay of Fires and Break O’Day region to explore the range of installations and to visit artist’s private studios. For the first year, the popular art market will run over two days, starting with a twilight market from 2-9pm on the Saturday with live music in the evening, then reopening on Sunday. The festival culminates in the Bay of Fires Art Prize announcement, with a $20,000 prize on offer to the winner, as well as acquisition by the local gallery.
Dark Mofo, June 15-24 The winter festival from the MONA crew, Dark Mofo is an exploration of light and darkness - a celebration of the winter solstice played out in small and large spaces across Hobart. The full program is released in April with events covering music, visual arts, performance and feasting genres. The food and wine events are extraordinary, the arts mind blowing.
Festival of Voices, June 29-July 15 One of Tasmania's premier winter festivals aims to spread the joy of singing far and wide across the state. Listen to voices harmonise and soar, attend performances in concert halls, theatres and public spaces or participate in one of the choirs or workshops with international guests. Each year the festival program features the free event, the Big Sing - a huge bonfire is lit in the middle of the city and the voices combine to banish the mid-winter chills.
Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival, July 13-15 Australia's southernmost region celebrates the region’s apple picking past with a program of musical performances, cider and feasting at Willie Smith’s Apple Shed, 30 minutes outside Hobart. At the heart of the festival is the age-old pagan tradition of wassailing - scaring the bad spirits away from the orchard. Think wine, cider, food, singing, shouting, costumes and fun.
Devonport Jazz Festival, July 26-29 Now in it’s 17th year, this event attracts performers from around Tasmania and Australia. Over the festival weekend, traditional performances spaces, as well as a few surprise venues, will host a festival program packed with fresh jazz and blues for everyone.
Australian Antarctic Festival, August 2-5 Held over four days, this festival tries to give an insight into the life of an Antarctic explorer. The Antarctic research ships Aurora Australis and Investigator are open for tours, as well as open days at the the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies and the CSIRO Marine Science Laboratories. Adventurers from the Australian Antarctic Division will be on hand to share real-life accounts of their lives.