Mid-Winter Festival this weekend

It’s been warmly embraced by locals and visitors alike, and now the Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival is promising to brighten up Tasmania with a festival that celebrates the glimmer of Spring on the horizon, through fireside feasting, music, theatre and stories.

From July 15th-17th, Willie Smith’s Apple Shed will be transformed when up to 10,000 people converge to celebrate around a bonfire the size of an average suburban loungeroom with some of the region’s best produce and performers.

Organiser Sam Reid, fromWillie Smith’s Cider, said the festival promised to captivate audiences with a whimsical line-up of live performances, pagan rituals and fireside feasting.

Mr Reid said the third annual event continued to grow and gain popularity, with the festival expected to inject more than $1,000,000 into the local economy at a traditionally quiet time for tourism in Tasmania.

“The festival has grown from a small community event in its first year to capturing the imaginations of visitors from all over the country who see it as a continuation of the popular Dark Mofo event in Hobart,” Mr Reid said.

“We are expecting more than 10,000 people to visit over the three-day event, which is great for our valley and Tasmania given the exposure it is receiving nationally and even internationally.”

Morris dancers at the Mid-Winter Festival

Morris dancers are among the performers at the Mid-Winter Festival

At the festival’s core is the ancient tradition of wassailing. This ritual ensures bad spirits are eliminated, it promises to wake up the dormant apple trees and encourage a bumper fruit crop – something the team at the Smith family orchard would warmly welcome given the growing demand for its popular organic produce and value-added products.

The celebrations begin on Friday night with a welcoming ceremony featuring the burning of a 6m-tall effigy, lit with a flaming arrow – the Burning Man is being lovingly built at the Grove farm this week.

Live music, Morris dancing, some of the region’s best food, beer and cider, and over $2,000 in prizes for the best dressed prize and a huge bonfire will all be back after being well received last year.

Added to the festival this year is the inaugural Huon Valley Storytellers Cup, which will take place on Saturday night, featuring local talent and headlined by Jackie Kerin – the President of Storytelling Australia Victoria; an organisation devoted to nurturing and supporting oral storytellers.

Also new for this year is the ‘Wolfzingers Cider Show Alley’, a show curated specifically for the festival by the talented Annie Lee from ‘The Kransky Sisters’ fame and a team of local volunteers. The performances will challenge and delight patrons as they enter a world of freaks, potion peddlers and laughing clowns.

Festival Manager Madeline Myson concluded ‘It’s pretty exciting watching the ticket sales soar, there’s just such an eclectic collection of festival activities this year – I mean, at what festival can you eat Tassie’s best produce, wassail apple trees and get dressed up and drink cider by a roaring bonfire?’

For more details and the full schedule visit the website – www.huonvalleymidwinterfest.com.au

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