Get ready to kick-up your heels at the second Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival.
The highly-celebrated event is being officially launched today, a symbolic choice as it is the traditional May-day celebrations, where Morris around the world will ‘Dance up the Sun’ to encourage its return.
“Here in Hobart this morning our very own Jolley Hatter Morris Dancers were up on top of Mt Wellington before dawn dancing and welcoming the sun for another year,” explains Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival director Sam Reid.
“The Morris have kept May Day traditions alive for centuries, and we’re thrilled to bring the ancient custom of wassailing back to Tasmania for a second year by launching the Mid-Winter festival today,” said Tasha Erker, Squire of the Jolley Hatters Morris.
Thousands of people flocked to Grove last year for the inaugural event, based at The Apple Shed, home of Willie Smiths Organic Cider.
Mr Reid said the organising committee had learned a lot from last year, putting in place some new features and an expanded program to further improve the event, which will this year run from Friday July 17th to Sunday July 19th.
A Friday night element has been added – focussing more attention on the folk music program. Three headline acts will play during the three-day festival, with Sunday’s session being free to encourage greater family participation. An additional dining tent will give patrons more flexibility and choice while parking will also be provided on-site to enable people to park at the festival.
Mr Reid said the 2014 event was trail-blazing and well received by those in attendance – especially those who really got into the spirit of pagan worshipping by dusting off their tatters, painting their faces and donning top hats to take part – with $1,250 in prize money on offer for best dressed participants.
“The tradition dates back to the 1500’s when dancers in the Welsh borders used to dress up and cover their faces so neighbours wouldn’t recognise them as they begged for money on the streets,” he said.
For the uninitiated, he says the festival is a lot of fun.
“If you haven’t sung to an apple tree whilst banging pots and pans by firelight lately, head to the Huon Valley to celebrate the region’s apple picking history and join in the ages-old tradition of wassailing – basically scaring nasties out of the orchard’s cider trees to ensure a bumper autumn crop,” Mr Reid said.
Friday’s activities start at 4pm and will run until 10pm. Saturday runs from midday – 10pm and Sunday 11-4pm.
Tickets start from $12 and are available from today from the website or The Apple Shed.
For more details visit the website – www.huonvalleymidwinterfest.com.au