We are hurtling towards the shortest day of the year at startling speed. When I leave for work, it's dark, when I come home, it's dark. Any beautiful sunny winter days we may have, largely go unnoticed by me throughout my working week, making weekends, and events that get me outside, even more exciting.
So, after a short hiatus, Winter Magic Festival Katoomba is back for 2019, and it's guaranteed to awaken you from your winter hibernation. The theme for this year's festival is 'Under The Winter Night Sky" and entrance to the event is FREE.
The community event started in 1994 and has grown into such a celebration of the arts and the Blue Mountains area that it now attracts international tourists. The Blue Mountains provides a perfectly picturesque wintry backdrop for this glistening celebration. Katoomba is no stranger to snow. Heavy falls blanketed the town close to the Winter Solstice in 2016. Flurries have even fallen this year in May. The Blue Mountains certainly is the best location to chance a glimpse at the snow for those Sydney-siders who crave it or may never have experienced it. I'm crossing my fingers and my toes for a frozen festival and closely monitoring the weather updates provided by Blackheath Weather.
Snow in Katoomba. Photo courtesy of Winter Magic Festival Facebook Page.
This community festival celebrates the Winter Solstice by providing a platform for the community's arts and creativity to shine. Winter Magic Festival encourages self-expression and quirkiness, holding the belief that everyone is inherently creative, some people just need a little help accessing it. The display of colour is dazzling and the costumes are grand. Festival performers and attendees alike are invited to let their guard down and dress themselves up. There will be face painters, henna tattooists and hair braiders on the day that can amplify your look.
The day will begin with an opening ceremony at 9am on the main stage at Carrington Lawn. There will be a Welcome To Country led by Aunty Carol Cooper, and local public school singers and choirs will herald the commencement of festivities.
This year, the traditional parade will be replaced with street-based entertainment from a range of talented musicians, artists and street performers. The Artstreet exhibition coincides with Winter Magic Festival and will showcase local talent in shop fronts, centred around this year's theme: Solstice. The theme is inspired by the rebirth, regeneration and renewal of the Winter Magic Festival.
The Winter Magic Festival is centred around Katoomba Street. The laneways, arcades, restaurants and hotels will serve as exhibition and performance spaces for the arts. 14 community groups from the Blue Mountains are confirmed to showcase new work at the festival and over 70 artists will perform across 12 stages.
One of the confirmed groups is Hands, Heart & Feet; an inspiring drum and dance group who have a great zeal to provide an expressive and accepting community. Their style hails from Bollywood to Africa and many cultural influences in-between (while adding a little contemporary and yoga to the mix) with founding duo dancer Emily Cooper and drummer John May both boasting impressive international careers. You will find them at the Carrington Hotel Driveway from 12pm - 1pm and the Cultural Centre Courtyard at 3pm.
Blue Mountains tribal belly dancing company, Ghawazi Caravan, founded by Devi Mamak, are also confirmed. The group has a strong basis in Middle Eastern Dance with stylistic influences from East India, North Africa, Flamenco dance and contemporary dance. The elaborate costumes and experienced dancers are sure to wow the main stage at 2pm.
Wagana Aboriginal Dancers will also be showcasing talented traditional and contemporary Aboriginal dances. These dances are inspired by the landscape and creation stories of the Blue Mountains and Central West region. Under the direction of dancer and choreographer Jo Clancy, let the Wagana Aboriginal Dancers transport you deep into the history of the Blue Mountains region at the Cultural Centre Courtyard at 4:45pm.
Photography by Ben Pearse, Winter Magic Festival 2017, courtesy of Winter Magic Facebook Page.
Other community showcases confirmed include an art installation and sound performance, Internal Organ, from 10am - 6pm, by Toolo and Junction 142. Gateway Family Services, Katoomba High School, Blue Mountains Steiner School, Fibres in the Mist, and Blue Mountains Flamenco will also showcase at various locations.
Photo by Ben Pearse from Winter Magic Festival 2017. Courtesy of Winter Magic Festival Facebook page.
The magic of the festival will be heightened with a market of over 150 stalls. There will be an array of treats and unique gifts to shop. Think flower hoops like these gorgeous creations from Shack Stuff, and beautiful clay jewellery locally made by Brave State. Imagine two toned 100% wool scarves by Virginia Burrow Design that could become your colourful winter staple. With so many artisan goods to discover, make sure to bring your cash and enjoy a saunter through the markets.
Pull out your show-stopping winter warming outfits, or just your regular winter woollies, and head to Winter Magic Festival Katoomba to ogle at the sights and take in the delights on offer from the small yet extremely diverse Blue Mountains community. With this much magic, there is sure to be fireworks. (Disclosure: there are fireworks at the end of the night. What festival would be complete without them?) Come together in unity and truly embrace this cold climate community who will warm your hearts and spirits while you celebrate the 25th year of the Winter Magic Festival: Under The Winter Night Sky.
Fireworks at 2017 Winter Magic Festival. Photography by Ben Pearse. Courtesy of the Winter Magic Festival Facebook page.