The fourth annual Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival kicks off this Friday 14 July and weekend passes are almost completely sold out.
This year, organisers want to focus on the power of reconciliation by paying homage to the traditional owners of the land, with the inaugural First Nations Storytelling, which will be held on Friday night.
Festival Director Sam Reid said: “Tasmania is home to one of the world’s oldest cultures, and we think the stories of the Palawa people can help us connect more deeply with the land.”
Festival organisers have drawn on the knowledge, experience and skills of some of Australia’s most talented Aboriginal artists to create a program that will enthral and enlighten visitors.
“We hope that by introducing, sharing and celebrating Australian Aboriginal culture with a broader audience it will, in turn, engender greater respect for the culture and the people.”
The Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival significantly boosts tourism activity in the region during the traditionally quiet winter period, and expects to inject around $1 million into the local Tasmanian economy.
It is the largest wassail in the Southern Hemisphere, a Medieval English drinking ritual intended to ensure a good cider apple harvest the following year.
“Our event is quirky and colourful and we are so thrilled that people are embracing what we put together to come out in the cold and dark and help make this event such a success when just a few years ago there was nothing like this available.
“I’m stoked to see the weekend passes selling so well and it tells me that people really appreciate the quality and diversity of programming we have over the three days,” said Reid.
“Many ticket holders are repeat visitors to Tasmania and the Huon Valley, and tell us how much they love this area and are happy to spend money on great Tasmanian food, wine and of course cider from the local producers on offer at the festival.
“To ensure on-going success, each year we have invested more into improving the event in terms of entertainment, logistics and facilities such as staging and audio to give everyone the best opportunity to hear and see the awesome array of performers we have brought together.”
Friday 14 July: Welcome and Burning Mid-Winter Man ceremony, with stilt walking storytellers The Roaming Trees, fire dancing troupe the Hobart Fireflies and the inaugural Tasmanian Aboriginal storytelling and First Nations artists featuring singer-songwriter Frank Yamma and acclaimed Tasmanian Aboriginal folktronica artist Denni Proctor. And headlining the Blundstone Stage is Melbourne-based Celt folk-punk band The Ramshackle Army.
Saturday 15 July: The largest Wassail procession in the Southern Hemisphere led by the Jolley Hatters Morris dancers, a huge bonfire, a share of $1800 in prize money on offer for the best dressed pagan offering and the second-annual Storytellers Cup with $400 in prize money on offer.
Sunday 16 July: Family fun with children’s storytelling, kid’s art and craft activities, costume prizes and more great live, local music.
The full program of events and the epic line-up of musical acts can be viewed on the Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival website.