Step towards the fire pit, let the flames light the way, rugged up and stripped bare, that's winter down our way. In Tasmania, we revel in winter and all her moods. Alive with our ravenous feasts, our arts and music festivals tap-dancing on the boundary of imagination, unpolished landscapes beautifully wild and raw, and the food, the heavenly food, ready to be devoured. This winter, wrap yourself in your chunkiest of knits and take in the magic and madness of the season - from Dark Mofo and the Festival of Voices, to AFL and Tasmanian Whisky Week, there's a kind of winter revelry for every persuasion.
Dark Mofo skulks into being from 8-21 June, in wondrous and wild locations around Hobart. Promising new wonders and new horror, Mona's winter festival, Dark Mofo brings centuries-old winter solstice rituals to life across small, intimate exhibitions, performances and large public gatherings like the dockside Dark Mofo Winter Feast. There are so many incredible acts, it's hard to say who's headlining, but music lovers will flock to Mogwai and Ulver, Austrian artist Hermann Nitsch will present the challenging and confronting work 150.Action for the first time in Australia and from the nocturnal art playground, Dark Park, UK artist Chris Levine's large scale laser work the iy_project 136.1 Hz, will emit pure lightwaves spanning beyond greater Hobart. This year, you can even sail from Sydney down to our isle (a little bit fancier than our convict mates did) on a P&O cruise to remember. And don't forget there's a nude swim in the Derwent to really see who's committed to renewing themselves this solstice (and insanely brave!).
Follow the winding trail of arts and music along the pristine East Coast to celebrate the Bay of Fires Winter Arts Festival. The festival opening ceremony kicks off in fiery fashion and includes the $20,000 Bay of Fires Art Prize and exhibition, Sunday's Arts Market, the Open Studio Trail and open gardens, the $1,000 Bay of Fires Youth Art Prize and exhibition AND the official Australasian Barbecue Alliance Championship Competition. This is a festival loved by locals, coming together to show off the talent harboured here, and the naturally spectacular and sometimes wild coastline. The four day festival promises activities for everyone to get out and explore the Bay of Fires and Break O'Day region and meet warm, friendly locals that make you feel like you are home.
So what is Steampunk you ask? Well, it's an eccentric marriage of retro futurism and Victorian-era heritage, with mechanisation, invention, art, literature and photography. Make sense? It's ok if it doesn't, it's a hell of a day regardless. Enthusiasts take this sci-fi subculture pretty seriously and the costumes are proof of that. Steampunk Tasmania is a playful day of music, exhibitions, displays and workshops across Georgetown, an historic town with a strong European maritime history. It's also the largest heavy industry precinct in Tasmania and the most perfect place to celebrate all the quirkiness that is Steampunk.
Every winter, concert halls, theatres and public spaces across the state, throw open the doors to voices - trained and untrained, high and low, amazing and delightfully average. The Festival of Voices is Australia's premier celebration of the voice and attracts critically acclaimed artists to share vocal workshops and performances. The much-loved City of Hobart Big Sing Bonfire returns for its 13th year, uniting the voices of the festival in a soul-stirring way like no other - it's a magical night of song, fire, light and warmth. There's also a special three-day program on the East Coast from 30 June until 2 July so layer up, embrace your voice and live in tune with the season! Can't sing? That's okay - it hasn't stopped anyone yet.
Imagine a world class chef on the pans, cooking with exquisitely fresh Tasmanian produce, alongside our best emerging talent. This winter, TasTAFE Drysdale continues their groundbreaking Great Chefs Series in Launceston and Hobart. The lineup is practically a who's who of the chef world, with names like Dominique Crenn, Jacques Reymond and Christian Puglisi wowing diners so far. This winter, Phil Wood, executive chef at Sydney's Eleven Bridge (Friday 7 July), Mark Best, electrician turned 3-hatted maestro (Friday 28 July) and Mike McEnearney, executive chef and owner of No. 1 Bent St Sydney and Kitchen by Mike (Friday 11 August) round out the program.
Given AFL is a winter sport, watching a game live in the elemental lottery of our southern winter should be on every fan's wishlist. This year the mighty Hawks are on display in Round 16 against the GWS Giants (8 July) and take on North Melbourne (13 August), both games in Launceston. North Melbourne also battle it out against Melbourne (29 July) in Hobart. Grab your beanie, layer up and get behind your team, then head out to explore after the siren.
We think winter is for getting outside in your gumboots, beanies and jackets, then getting inside to defrost by the fire, consuming copious amounts of slow cooked, nourishing comfort food with a tipple of wine on the side (Tasmanian of course). At Winter on the Farm, do exactly that with a tour of Fat Pig Farm, just south of Hobart, with Gourmet Farmer Matthew Evans, meet the pigs and harvest the produce for a late lunch. Learn something new during a hands on cooking lesson beside the wood-fired oven, then enjoy the winter feast together with local wine and other treats from the farm.
Sing to the apple trees they said. Bang the pots and pans they cried. You'll have fun they insisted. And you will! The Huon Valley Mid-Winter Fest celebrates the region's apple picking heritage and shares the ye olde worlde tradition of wassailing - a method of scaring any bad vibes and nasties from the orchard's cider trees, ensuring a bumper crop. Besides lots of banging and yelping, there are costumes (think dark, pagan-inspired numbers, donning greenery, feathers, fur and leather), the Friday Night Feast of fireside rustic food, local tunes and hand crafted cider to welcome the Burning Man, the Big Wassail on Saturday evening and the family fun day on Sunday.
If there's a food match that defines winter in Tasmania it's Pinot Noir and truffles. Hosted by acclaimed Stillwater Restaurant in Launceston, it's like an adult 'choose your own adventure' weekend. Piece together your itinerary from events such as the tasting of 40 top Tasmanian Pinot Noirs alongside their makers, under the master palate of Pinot Shop owner Michele Round, the Truffled Egg breakfast at Stillwater or the main event on Saturday night with six courses laden with Tasmanian truffles.
From the 27-30 July, Devonport transforms into a sultry jazz club as leading Tasmanian and interstate jazz musicians take the stage for the Devonport Jazz Festival. They don't do things by the book here, adding to a diverse program of traditional, contemporary, swing, Latin or even be-bop jazz,fantastic food, visual art, dance and film program, join local music fans for this much-loved festival. This year's headline acts are The Idea of North and Monica Trapaga, as well as Django's Tiger, Annia Baron and Tucker, Ottaway & Watkins.
Tasmania is hot stuff in the whisky world right now, with internationally significant awards under our belts. So it's no surprise that Tasmanian Whisky Week is back this year, in all its peaty goodness. Over ten warming days, Tasmanian distilleries, bars, barns, stables, restaurants and hotels will host behind-the-scenes tours, meet-and-greets with our distillers, unreleased whiskies on tasting and dinner events showcasing the golden drop. If anything is going to warm your cockles in Tasmania this winter, it should be our fine, fine whisky.
Hot chocolate and winter are inextricably linked, and we know where to find a good one. In the pretty town of Latrobe on Tasmania's North West Coast, the indulgent Chocolate Winterfest celebrates the pleasure of chocolate in all its forms, including hot! Home of Anvers Chocolate (if you haven't tried their chocolate truffles, you haven't lived), Latrobe opens its doors to pay homage to the ancient 'food of the gods' - with tastings, workshops and exhibits to enjoy.
For a full and up-to-date listing of Tasmanian events, and information on travelling to Tasmania, visit the Discover Tasmania website www.discovertasmania.com.au.