Cygnet Lantern Parade
Tasmania has reinvented winter. Short days and freezing nights are no longer something we have to apologise for. Now we celebrate the cold season and the hope for renewal.
Cold is the new hot. Visitors from warmer climates are coming to Tasmania in droves to experience that cosy wrapped up feeling you only get from wearing winter woollies.
Dark Mofo, Huon Valley Mid-Winter Fest, Festival of Voices. If you can stand around a bonfire and do it then Tasmania has embraced it. But before any of this new winter popularity, the Huon Valley community celebrated the annual Cygnet Winter Lantern Parade.
Now in its 15th year, the Cygnet Lantern Parade is a true community festival. For weeks leading up to the winter solstice event community members get busy building hundreds of lanterns from the stylishly simple to the extravagantly creative.
The theme for this year’s parade was the marine environment and plenty of effort was put into creations mostly crafted from cane, tissue paper and duct tape. The Cygnet Arts Council conducts free lantern-making workshops for anyone who wants to take part.
At dusk the excited crowd gathers at the Cygnet Primary School, greeting friends and proudly showing off this year’s handiwork. Then the drums start their beat and everyone falls in behind for the parade through the streets to Loongana park where volunteers have laid a huge bonfire, topped with a paper effigy of a shark.
The Cygnet Lantern Parade is family oriented, non-denominational and non-commercial. Pots of soup are donated by the community and served free to everyone. Musicians and dancers entertain the crowd while excited children get to run around in the dark.
Cygnet opens itself to the world in mid-summer with the Cygnet Folk Festival, but in winter the community comes together in a much more intimate way, to mark the passing of another year and to look forward to the lengthening days in a way that people from higher latitudes just don’t experience.