24 April 2015
Sensual and sensory, weird and wonderful – the thrill of a Tasmanian winter is here again. As dark-loving souls look toward our longest night, the winter solstice, the island comes alive with culture, festivals and events. We're welcoming you to Tasmania with 250 deliciously different artists as part of Dark Mofo, the world's most recognised visual artist Marina Abramović opening at the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), cider-fuelled dress-ups circa 1500s at the Huon Valley Mid-Winter Fest and the sound of boots on the ball at the AFL. And with our whale friends popping by to say hello on the East Coast, the time is ripe for you now too.
Get the winter party started with the free, yes we said free, 'Party in the Lane', thanks to the Museum of Old and New Art's delicious craft beer brand Moo Brew. Usher in winter in a little-known laneway in Hobart, Collins Court on 1 May from 5 to 9.30pm with a pop-up bar, live street art, music and a special menu curated by MONA's executive sous chef Vince Trim featuring a slow-cooked whole pig and lamb. - Moo Brew Party in the Lane
Dark Mofo 2015
Humans have been gathering to salute the darkness of the winter solstice since Neolithic times. This June, Dark Mofo, MONA's winter festival in Australia, celebrates ancient and contemporary mythology around the darkest night of the year. The festival opens on 12 June at Dark Park, the new festival HQ at Hobart's harbourside Macquarie Point, with large public artworks like the high-octane Fire Organ by German chemo-acoustic engineer Bastiaan Maris with producer Duckpond. Then there's the epic Wild At Heart road trip - a two-night, ballot only immersive art experience sleepover within Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park (15-17 June), and finishing with the Nude Solstice Swim on June 22 at the crack (ha!) of dawn. Program information and tickets at www.darkmofo.net.au; but get in quick; they're selling fast!
Festival of Voices
One of winter's hotly anticipated festivals, the Festival of Voices, returns for an 11th year, with an even hotter line-up of international and Australian voices. Held in Hobart from 3 to 12 July, and for the first time in Launceston from 14 to 16 July, it's a working festival as much as it is about performance – visitors can enjoy hands on workshops with world-class conductors, be part of major choir recitals and explore the spoken word, a capella, gospel and cabaret across an eclectic range of venues. This year's festival will kick off with the every popular Bonfire & Big Sing at Hobart's Salamanca Place. Tickets available at www.festivalofvoices.com
Marina Abramović Exhibition
It has taken the world's most recognised performance artist, Marina Abramović, 17 years to return to Australia, but we reckon it has been well worth the wait. This year, coinciding with the opening of Dark Mofo, from 13 June to 5 October Hobart's MONA hosts a major exhibition of showing her early foundational work with Ulay (a German artist Frank Uwe Laysiepen, her lover and collaborative partner from 1976 to 1988), as well as solo works exploring physical and mental limits, and more recent work where the public become the subject. It's groundbreaking stuff and not to be missed. www.mona.net.au
Huon Valley Mid-Winter Fest
What's wassailing we hear you ask? The pagan tradition of awakening the apple trees by banging pots and singing to them by firelight is alive and well during the Huon Valley Mid-Winter Fest at The Apple Shed. To really get into the action and be in the running for cash prizes, why not dress up in your best sixteenth-century 'Welsh Morris'-style costume? But if paganism isn't your thing, Friday night has been reserved for feasting – with the best local food, craft ciders, wine and fireside music. From 17 to 19 July. Tickets available at www.huonvalleymidwinterfest.com.au
Devonport Jazz Festival
From 23 to 26 July, the word on the streets of Devonport is 'jazz'. There's jazz in halls, churches, pubs, clubs, cafes, vineyards, even jazz in a chocolate factory! Now in its 13th year, the Devonport Jazz Festival program features artists from Tasmania and interstate, playing everything from gospel to blues. Head along to the pretty North-West Coast city for a long weekend of toe-tapping, head-nodding fun. Tickets from www.devonportjazz.com
Tasmanian Pinot Noir Showcase
A good Pinot Noir is notoriously hard for winemakers to produce and even harder sometimes for enthusiasts to find. The marriage between Tasmanian terroir and Pinot Noir grapes is made in heaven, with ideal growing conditions for the moody little fruit. Tasmania's best Pinot Noir producers join forces for the eighth annual Tasmanian Pinot Noir Showcase, held at Launceston's Pinot Shop on 25 July. Tickets are $65pp and include free freight anywhere in Australia if more than six bottles are purchased on the day. Bookings at www.pinotshop.com
Chocolate Winterfest Latrobe
This wickedly lickable festival on Tasmania's North West Coast, Latrobe, calls on chocaholics everywhere to taste, mould, sip and decorate the finest chocolate. Thought to be an ancient gift to the gods, chocolate is now a beautiful part of everyday life, and for some a way of life. Based around Latrobe on 9 August, the home of the House of Anvers, the festival includes a Community Lantern Parade at Bells Parade, lots of opportunities for tastings and the perfect weather for hot chocolate. www.chocolatewinterfest.com.au
AFL in Tasmania
This winter, get behind premiers Hawthorn and 2014 preliminary finalists North Melbourne, with four AFL rounds being played AFL in Tasmania. Throughout the winter season, Hawthorn takes on the Fremantle and the Brisbane Lions, while North Melbourne are up against West Coast Eagles and St Kilda. Get out the scarf and beanie and get yourself to a game in Launceston or Hobart. www.afl.com.au
The Great Tassie Whale Migration
Fresh from their summer holidays down south, Southern Right and Humpback whales are regularly spotted making their way north to breeding grounds during winter. Most sightings are on Tasmania's East Coast. Try Bruny Island's Adventure Bay (you might also see a stray Minke or Orca) or the East Coast stretching from Bay of Fires in the north to Waubs Bay near Bicheno and Freycinet National Park in the south. To get up close and personal or catch a glimpse, book a seat on an eco-cruise or grab some binoculars and a prime seaside location.
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.