Tasmania sometimes gets forgotten about when people are choosing where to live, study or holiday, but in fact, it’s such a gorgeous place to be at any time of the year.
That’s why huge crowds come from interstate and overseas whenever there’s a festival or other major event on. After all, it’s just a plane or boat ride!
For three days, the small town of Cygnet bursts to life with one of Australia’s most loved folk music festivals. Its profile is growing and it has been gaining the attention of performers and festival lovers from interstate and overseas. The little town’s population usually sits at around 1,600 and swells impressively in size in January. Quaint and picturesque, Cygnet is a beautiful place to go and enjoy live music, dance and poetry. There are workshops you can participate in, you can purchase handmade goods at the arts market, watch craftsmen make musical instruments by hand, and you’ll love the buskers. You might catch an Aboriginal dance workshop, listen to an a cappella choir, learn flamenco dancing, discover how to tune a guitar, try your hand at bluegrass banjo or get into some good old-fashioned bush dancing. The program is extremely comprehensive and there’s bound to be more than a handful of activities you want to try or acts you want to see.
This festival celebrates Tasmania’s unique connection with the Antarctic and coincides with winter solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year. Events include open days, exhibitions, lectures and entertainment, all with the intention to raise awareness for the outstanding work done by the scientists, technicians, communications experts and other professionals, in the Antarctic. Find out why their work is so important to the working economy of Tasmania and learn how the people who work in Antarctica live at -40 degrees Celsius! The festival plays out over multiple venues including Princes Wharf No. 1, the Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery, Tasports Cruise Terminal, The Mawson’s Hut Replica Museum, the Waterside Pavilion and the Institute for Marine & Antarctic Studies.
Hosted by the Royal Agricultural Society of Tasmania, the Royal Hobart Show shines a spotlight on the country people who grow or raise our food and produce our wool and other materials. It’s an opportunity for city people to soak up the sights, sounds and sometimes-not-so-pleasant aromas of rural life! It runs for four days, each ending with wonderful fireworks. There are sideshow rides and amusements, wood chopping events, livestock judging and competitions for cake decorating, sewing and arts and crafts. The Show is a brilliant family day out when everybody can feast on fairground foods, cuddle baby animals and go on head-spinning rides.
The Show is every bit as popular in Launceston in the state’s north however it is just a one-day event.
From 28th December to 3rd January, The Taste of Tasmania Festival takes over the waterfront in a celebration of fine Tassie local produce and wines. Gourmets from around the country fly in to meet celebrity chefs, attend exclusive cooking workshops, watch food demonstrations, meet producers, taste wines and purchase their favourite or newly discovered food and beverage products. If you’ve never tried bush tucker, Taste of Tasmania is just the place to experience it. Or maybe you’d like to learn how to make sausages or gnocchi. Find out about wild fermentation, pairing cheeses with wines or explore the elegance of gin blending. The event attracts more than 220,000 people from overseas and interstate and as such, is the largest festival of its kind in the country. Entry is free, but you’ll want to take some money with you as there will be way too many temptations to forgo!
On Boxing Day every year, dozens of yachts set sail from Sydney Harbour, bound for Constitution Dock in Hobart. The 628 nautical mile race takes the fleet across the notoriously perilous Bass Strait so when the yachts dock safely in Hobart, they are met with relief as well as excitement. Watching the yachts come in on the 28th is one of the great pleasures of the event and the wharf is always a busy place with palpable buzz. Champagne flows, there are cheers, lots of back-slapping and hugging and the party really starts. Tens of thousands of visitors make the trek to the island state to greet the yachts, some having just watched them depart from Sydney. The centre of the celebrations is the waterfront Customs House Hotel where the yachties trade their tales and relive their most thrilling moments with the eager crowd.
An event with a long tradition, the Royal Hobart Regatta began in 1838. It features three days of activity on the River Derwent and its shores. The kids will love the sideshow amusements and rides and the whole family will enjoy the exciting water, aerial and onshore events. Rowing competitions, jet skis, wooden dinghy racing, kayak paddling and sand sculpting are all part of the fun. There’s also wood chopping, a tug-of-war, greasy pole, crate climb, sailing and hula hoop competition. Thrill to the aerobatic performance in the skies above and farewell the yachts as they race off to Bruny Island. See the helicopter display, have the kids take part in a treasure hunt or have their faces painted and be entertained by live musical performances. It’s a huge three days with a whole lot of fun jam-packed into them.
Targa is a tarmac rally event that makes its way around various locations over six days in Tasmania and ends in Hobart. It’s the world’s largest, longest and most difficult tarmac rally event and the trophy is highly coveted. Around 300 cars are entered each year to travel the 2,000-plus kilometres over 40 competitive stages. Some of the categories include Vintage & Classic, Classic GT, Early Modern and Thoroughbred Trophy. By checking out the stage map, you can determine where you’d like to go to witness the race in progress. To see the cars up close, you can go along to TargaFest in Launceston before the event and Hobart afterwards.