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Let’s get one thing straight: Dark Mofo is not your average festival. If you turn up expecting flower crowns, denim shorts and bikini tops, or a chart-topping pop singer gyrating on a main stage, you’re in the wrong place – and probably inappropriately dressed.
Don’t be deterred though. While other places tend to hibernate during the winter months, binging on Netflix until the Aussie summer returns, Taswegians famously embrace the chill, and this attitude is no more evident than during Dark Mofo, the annual celebration of all things weird and mysterious in Hobart.
A staggering 270,000 people are set to descend on locations across Hobart for an eclectic calendar filled with art installations, musical performances, communal feasts, film, and interactive experiences from June 8 to 21.
A Song of Ice and Fire: Fans of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series know that the themes of ice and fire are a blockbuster combination… and Tasmania’s Dark Mofo festival clashes the two extremes in epic style
Embrace the dark: Revellers can expect an eclectic calendar filled with art installations, musical performances, communal feasts, film, and interactive experiences from June 8 to 21
Fans of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series may believe they currently own the theme of ice and fire, but Dark Mofo clashes the two extremes in a spectacular and confronting program of cultural events designed to thrill, shock, and invigorate the senses.
A fiery ritual sees crowds write down their fears on pieces of paper which are fed into the Ogoh-ogoh – a demon-like sculpture from Balinese Hinduism. Last year the Ogoh-ogoh was a dragon; this year’s will take the shape of a wolf.
Once the wolf is fed, it will be paraded through the streets before being set alight in a ceremonial burning.
Invigorate winter: A staggering 270,000 people will flock to Hobart for the festival, which aims to thrill, shock, and invigorate the senses
Banquet: Up to 10,000 people each night will descend on Princes Wharf for street food and warming drinks at communal tables inside the Winter Feast
And from fire, to ice: The two-week festival wraps up – or rather, is unwrapped – with a mass nude swim at sunrise on June 21, the winter solstice. Last year, more than 700 took part in the icy dawn dip, dropping their towels and running completely naked into the frigid water at Long Beach in Sandy Bay.
The Ogoh-ogoh purging and burning and solstice swim are just two events on the calendar that have become fiercely loved traditions for Dark Mofo regulars.
The pagan-inspired Winter Feast is one of the most popular annual attractions, with festival-goers warming themselves around fire pits outside, or inside the hall at communal tables, with hot drinks and hearty street food. A centrepiece of the festival, the pagan-inspired banquet provides a meeting place, a break for over-exerted feet and senses for up to 10,000 people each night.
Ice, ice, baby: To close the festival, hundreds will strip off and enjoy a skinny dip in the frigid water at dawn on the winter solstice, June 21
Fire: Another beloved annual tradition is the Ogoh-ogoh purging and burning, which sees the demon-like sculpture paraded through the streets and set alight
Dark Park, held at Macquarie Point on Hobart’s waterfront, is a playground of public art, bringing together interactive works by a host of artists.
Dark Mofo is undoubtedly a celebration of the dark, yet one of the most exciting attractions on this year’s schedule is a collaboration between UK based laser art pioneer Chris Levine and spatial sound designer Marco Perry and is called iy_project 136.1 Hz.
The lasers will be beamed from Dark Park, the festival’s primary hub, but will be visible across the city and the show will be on throughout the festival. Prepare to be dazzled.
If your eyes aren’t assaulted, your ears will be. Each day at sunrise and sunset, 550 speakers will blast ‘feminine incantations’ from the Hobart harbour for Siren Song.
TOP DARK MOFO SURVIVAL TIPS
From what to wear to planning your night, here are our top tips for getting the most out of Dark Mofo
- With temperatures at night in June dipping to freezing, ensure you dress warmly, as many events are outside – think beanies, gloves, scarves and coats, and you may want to consider thermals!
- Wear comfortable shoes – you’ll be walking to different locations across the city
- Buy tickets to events in advance, with many of the most popular performances selling out early
- Plan your evening, as queues for some free events, such as Dark Park, can get long
- Ensure you stop by the Winter Feast, Dark Park food trucks and bars to refuel and warm up (bring ID)
- If you plan to attend on several evenings, the Winter Feast season pass ($50 + booking fee) guarantees you priority entry
- For those on a budget, entry to the Winter Feast is free after 8pm (but strictly subject to capacity so there is no guarantee you’ll get in)
- There are plenty of car parks open late in Hobart. Check the Dark Mofo website for the closest ones
- If you have sensitive ears, bring some ear plugs as some installations and experiences can be loud
Art installations are expected to be as provocative and confronting as ever. One such performance already making headlines is Austrian artist Hermann Nitsch’s gruesome 150.Action, which he is bringing to Australia exclusively for Dark Mofo on June 17 and 18.
The piece is described as a ‘bloody, sacrificial ritual’ which includes distressing imagery, nudity, strong adult themes – not to mention 500 litres of ‘artfully used’ blood. Parents be advised – this one is not for children.
Likewise, Australian artist Mike Parr is scheduled to stage a mysterious performance on June 12. Details are scarce but the undoubtedly controversial work is expected to take place in the middle of the night. Stay tuned.
Light up the night: UK light artist Chris Levine is slated to illuminate the night with a spectacular light show each night after sundown (not pictured)
Provocative: Dark Park, at Macquarie Point, is a playground of public art, bringing together interactive works by a host of artists, with installations expected to be as provocative and confronting as ever
Season of Curious: A special P&O Dark Mofo Cruise will depart from Sydney on June 13 to deliver some 2,000 eager visitors south for the unique festival
Dark Mofo fans are particularly excited about the announcement that Norwegian band Ulver are slated to perform in Australia for the first time as part of the festival’s musical line-up, while American experimental group Xiu Xiu are playing the music of cult favourite Twin Peaks (already sold out).
Such is its growing popularity, a dedicated P&O Cruise will depart from Sydney on June 13 to deliver some 2,000 eager visitors south for the unique festival. Or, most mainland dwellers hop on a flight to Hobart.
However you travel there, arrive with an open mind, and prepare to step out of your comfort zone, explore your dark side and delight in the peculiar and curious.
Dark Mofo runs from June 8 to 21. Tickets for events are on sale now and can be purchased on the website.
Curious? To get amongst it and experience all Tassie has to offer this winter – start your story here.
Courtesy: Daily Mail Online