Monday, 21 June 2010

Winter Magic Festival 2010

Every year, there is a local festival around this time celebrating the Winter Solstice and the eventual coming of Spring. It is known as the Winter Magic Festival.

Since we're newbie locals (and we'd never heard about this festival before), we didn't know what to expect, even when we read about the festival and saw the programme in the local newspaper.

So on Saturday morning (in weather more suited to polar bears - windy and freezing, but at least it was sunny), we headed up to Katoomba at around 10.30am, ready to watch the Opening Parade. We were suitably impressed and awed by the transformation of the main street of Katoomba into a veritable hive of people and market stalls. Taking up our positions, we watched as the Grand Wizard came up the street with his entourage leading the parade:

Then came a long line of other interesting characters and local groups:

When the last of the parade moved past us, and the crowd started dispersing, we made our way slowly up the main street looking at all the wonderful stalls full of hand-made goods (although some had cheaply imported fakes) or information about local organisations. There were so many people that this proved a very slow endeavour!

Of course the food stalls were some of the best, and there was a huge range of cuisines to choose from - Chinese, Thai, Peruvian, Mexican, Spanish, German and of course, the traditional Aussie BBQ stall! Although the food was great, it was so windy and cold that anything hot we bought turned cold in a matter of minutes. :( Ah well, at least it was still good food! We did have to go in search of some coffee afterwards to warm us up. Sorry for not having taken any photos of the food as we were so excited with the food stalls AND so hungry that we forgot all about taking photos of what we ate OR of the food stalls!!! LOL

After lunch came more stall browsing and shopping, stopping every so often to watch the entertainment, such as a juggler on a very tall Unicycle:

A pig playing bagpipes:

With his partner playing a Hurdy Gurdy:

And my favourite of the day, watching and listening to two awesome Samba bands:

The music was so catchy that you just HAD to bop along, if not launch into all-out dancing, as some did!! LOL

There was also a steam train that took passengers further up the mountain and back, the old fashioned way (if you ignored the two diesel engines bringing up the rear helping to push the train up the mountain!!!):

Later in the day, I couldn't stand the cold anymore and bought a hat. Do you like it?

Close to nightfall (which at this time of year was around 5.30pm!), we headed up to the Carrington Hotel at the top of the street as that was where all the action was going to be. We saw some fire handlers practicing for the finale show:

And after a very cold hour later, a great Swing band started up on the Hotel balcony, with the fire handlers around them. Three songs later, the fireworks exploded against the inky night sky!

Sorry for the poor fireworks photos. Gus didn't bring his tripod knowing that he wouldn't have anywhere to set it up, and he was right! There were so many people that there wasn't room for a tripod as well! So we had to content ourselves with hand-held photos.  Those two were the best!

After the fireworks, we staggered home, exhausted after a very long, but extremely enjoyable day.

If I had one word to describe the festival (and indeed the people of the Blue Mountains), it would be ECLECTIC. From the Gothics and Bohemians to the Burlesque (and even Gothic Burlesque!!!); from the Knights and Wizards to the Princes and Princesses; from the Australians to the Asians to the South Americans; from the locals to the Sydney-siders to the foreign tourists. It was such a melting pot of cultures, religions and people that it was mind-boggling! But there was one thing that linked everyone - the participation in (so many people dressed up!) and pure enjoyment of a community festival and having fun in a very simple and casual way. I definitely think we've made the right choice in moving up here. *wink*



Amanda said...

It's sounds a fun day out and you have some great photos and yes, I do like your hat :-)

Sandra said...

oh Winnie, it looks like just such a fun day :) ... yup, loving the hat too

misteejay said...

What a fab day - the hat is great. Here in the UK we don't tend to think of it getting that cold over in Aus especially as it seems our summer has just decided to put in an appearance.

Toni :o)

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