Willie Smith’s readies Mid-Winter Festival
Mt Wellington / kunanyi Summit, Monday 1st May, 6:30 am: Tasmania’s Huon Valley is preparing to again transform into a mesmerising, magical utopia for the region’s popular Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival.
The grounds of Willie Smith’s Apple Shed will come to life with feasting and frivolity as up to 18,000 people flock to the three-day event celebrating all things fire and folklore from July 14th to 16th.
The launch of the festival took place early this morning as a group of Morris dancers and assembled guests were the first to welcome the light to Tasmania on the top of Mt Wellington / kunanyi.
In the pagan calendar, the 1st of May was the first day of summer, thus the tradition of dancing at sunrise to welcome the sun back for the warmer months was born. This is a stark but relevant contrast to the meaning of May 1st in Tasmania, which sees the mercury falling as the state prepares for the snow, wind and rain of the upcoming winter months.
kunanyi/Mount Wellington and the celebration of May Day represented the festival through a perfect contrast of icy cold weather and raw Tasmanian beauty against the colourful and vivacious Morris dancers to form the perfect sensory platform for the festival launch.
Now in its fourth year, festival organisers had originally predicted that by 2019 foot traffic through the festival would rise to 10,000 people with 10% of festival goers hailing from the mainland. The reality is that this goal was met and exceeded at last years’ festival, meaning the festival has well and truly been embraced by locals and visitors alike.
“We want people to know that the valley is a place to visit all year round” Event Director Sam Reid said, “We are really proud of the impact it has on the Huon Valley and Tasmanian economy over a traditionally quiet time of the year. Last year the festival involved around 50 local businesses and injected over $1 million into the Tasmanian economy”.
The festival draws its inspiration from the apple heritage of the valley and bringing people together over the long winter months. The wassail (the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere) is held on the Saturday night and is heralded as the ‘main event’ and attracts a great crowd who want to be part of this incredible ritual.
This year the team are taking the Welcome Ceremony on the Friday night, to the next level with a performance entitled ‘The Resurrection of the Sun’. Inspired by a traditional Hungarian Folk Story and culminating in setting alight of a 10-metre tall burning man it provides another celebration to be part of.
Tasmania’s famous produce, wine, and cider will be on offer during the event, which will feature Matthew Evans (Gourmet Farmer) and his Fat Pig Farm van, Coal River Farm, Bruny Island food and a host of other premium food and beverage providers who are all championing locally sourced and prepared produce.
In keeping with the celebration of tradition, the art of storytelling will be nurtured and represented all weekend in the Storytellers Tent, which will once again host the official ‘Huon Valley Storytellers Cup’ after the wassail on Saturday night. The competition last year saw the tent filled with festival goers, nursing warm cups of hot spiced cider, seated shoulder to shoulder on hay bales with wide eyes and open ears as six local storytellers told tales of love, mystery, travels and tribulations to the mesmerised crowd.
“The energy in the Storytelling Tent was overwhelmingly welcoming and magnetic”, said Festival Manager Madeline Myson.
“It really looked like a sea of contented faces, from the young right through to the old, all enjoying an art form which has been a part of humankind since the beginning of time”.
If storytelling, wassailing, burning men and a general coating of flame-based performances aren’t enough for you then you can spend your time by the Blundstone Main Stage listening to renowned mainland bands including Indigenous artist Frank Yamma (ADEL), Ramshackle Army (MELB) and The Scrimms, who will be supported by a hand-selected line up of local Tasmanian talent.
Early Bird Tickets sold out in the first three hours of release but more go on-sale this morning, Monday the 1st of May at 9am.
To get your ticket visit here.
The most recent information can be found here.