Adam Gibson
Adam Gibson
Travel Tip

10 reasons to embrace Tassie’s dark and eventful Winter

Alice Hansen
​Tassie winter days are bright, clear and crisp. It’s the season for alpine walks, hot tubs and evenings spent by a log fire with a glass of pinot. The winter events calendar sets a course to explore, from ravenous feasts and wild music festivals, to meet the maker markets and wassailing away in the apple orchards.

1. Meet the makers at the Bay of Fires

Head for a coastline named among the world’s hottest by Lonely Planet and you have a canvas to inspire any artist. During the Bay of Fires Winter Arts Festival on Tassie’s east coast (9 -11 June) enjoy an open studio trail and see the makers busily at work. Chat over wood shavings, ask questions and take home a handmade treasure from the Bay of Fires Arts Market.

2. Warning – this festival is dark

Hobart’s annual pilgrimage into the dark is set to shock and entertain once again as Dark Mofo brings something very special to the winter event line-up.

This year’s festival promises a flirt with death; in a life-affirming way. Join the block party as Night Mass enlightens the Hobart streets with five nights of music and performance across a dozen bars and other venues.

Sign up for a naked romp with others attracted to the icy depths of the River Derwent for Dark Mofo’s annual nude dip. The program will challenge, as always. From 15-24 June – expect anything in the darkness.

A dragon being marched through the street before it is burned
Adam Gibson
Dark Mofo: The Burning

3. From the Market Maker’s hand

We love a good market down this way. In fact, Salamanca Market is the largest outdoor market in the country, happening each Saturday in Hobart, followed by the Farm Gate Market on Sunday morning. Join the locals with freshly ground morning coffee and get your fill of veggies, some still wearing soil having been picked hours before. This is as local as you get. Up north, the Harvest Market transforms an inner-city parking lot in Launceston into a bustling foodie haven each Saturday. And those who love handcrafted homewares, jewellery and the like, be sure to visit The Market at the Masonic Hall in Hobart, run by passionate local artisans.

4. AFL games

It’s nearly that time of year when the whistle blows, signalling time to sport beanies once again. AFL season down here in Tassie is shaping up for some exciting clashes through the season with games at Blundstone Arena in Hobart and UTAS Stadium in Launceston.

5. Whisky wandering

With more than 20 distilleries popping up around Tasmania, if you think that winter and whisky are a good match, Tasmania is your destination. We even have the Godfather of Whisky, Bill Lark, right here. Hop aboard a whisky tour with Drink Tasmania, cosy up in a little whisky bar in Hobart or pick up a bottle of your favourite and find yourself an open fire. There’s even a whole week dedicated to single-malt goodness.

Lark Tasting paddle at Tasmanian Whisky Week
Jason Morling
Lark Tasting Paddle

6. Sweet voices

It’s Australia’s premier celebration of the human voice. It’s the Festival of Voices and it’s become a much-loved part of the winter event program here in Tassie. There’s nothing quite like a roaring bonfire and some united voices to feel the community warmth. From 29 June to 15 July there are international guest workshops, intimate shows across Hobart and the east coast, and plenty of opportunity to sing your own old tune. Can’t sing? That’s okay – it hasn’t stopped anyone yet.

7. Drums, bonfires and feasting

If you’re not up with wassailing – which happens to be an ancient pagan ritual where trees are sung to in an effort to bring good fortune to crops and scare away evil nasties – that’s all right. It’s just one of the reasons we flock down to the Huon Valley Mid Winter Fest (15-17 July). Others come for the banging of drums, fireside music, feasting and the ‘oh-so-delicious’ craft ciders.

People in traditional costume singing at the Huon Valley Mid Winter Festival
Natalie Mendham Photography
Huon Valley Mid-Winter Fest

8. Jazz it up on the coast

It’s an unlikely tale, but the seaside town of Devonport becomes a haven for late night jazz dens one month a year. Quiet by day, come late July the city transforms into a four-day hub of food, visual art, dance, film and serious jazz. There’s old and there’s new jazz; there’s church-based jazz and musicians who set up at a chocolate factory. This isn’t your typical festival, and that’s why it’s award-winning.

9. Chocolate heaven

There’s chocolate lovers and there’s chocolate lovers. Some can eat a piece and put the block down, others head to Latrobe on 12 August for Chocolate Winterfest and have trouble not indulging in a 14-course feast. They say it’s the food of the gods. This gives ample reason to gather with other chocolate-lovers for a day that spans tastings, dessert competitions, a showcase of wearable chocolate art and a gorgeous night-time lantern parade.

A Chocolatiere teaching a child how to make chocolate
Chris Crerar
Chocolate Winterfest

10. Ghostly winter nights

It’s dark. It’s cold. It might even be raining. It’s the perfect opportunity to rug up and head down to Port Arthur Historic Site for a ghost tour. Follow by lantern light the stories of convicts, soldiers and settlers. Night falls early this time of year – as the ruins whisper tales of early life. Be open and ready as the night envelops.

night time ghost tour through a convict site
Jonathan Wherrett
Port Arthur Historic Site: Paranormal Investigation Experience

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