No matter how many places try to entice us with great food, fine art or cool festivals, nowhere seems to have quite the same panache as our southern island chunk, Tasmania. She’s the manic pixie dream girl of the sunburnt country, a bustling hub of culture and natural splendours adrift on the other side of the Bass—and we are all about that Bass.
Among the attractions that drive us culture vultures south in search of curiosities and improvement is Launceston's iconic Junction Arts Festival. Glad you asked, the festival is an opportunity for artists to flaunt their craft in new and inventive ways. Over five glorious days and nights, Launceston’s quaint and ordinary spaces will become anything but when the cream of the creative crop turn up.
This year’s Junction agenda has us foaming at the gills with an appearance by a dwindling German pop icon, a guitar-centric picnic in the park, and an excuse to dress up in tweed popping off the schedule. Plus, a whole bunch more that'll have you booking yourself on the first flight over.
The full program is chock full of one-of-a-kind shows and performances, but to whet your proverbial whistle, here are our picks of Junction Arts Festival 2017—you would be mad to miss it!
Calypso Space Party
Opening nights don’t get much more extravagant than Mighty Duke & The Lords, with special guests DJ Geordie and Michael Griffiths prevailing over this rollicking calypso that's just a few helmets and a mothership short of a space station. As with all good lavish shindigs, guests are encouraged to let their imaginations run wild and dress up in calypso space theme.
Probably the most iconic part of the Junction Arts Festival is Nightlight, a self-guided twilight art walk through the heart of Launceston. More than 15 magical works and installations by some of Tasmania's most prominent artists are yours to explore in and around the gorgeous Prince's Square. From the stunning light show at the Val d'Onse Fountain, to wild UV light drawings and dance offs by Stompin Youth Dance Co., pick up your 'Hanky Map' from the Box Office so you don't miss a thing!
Tamar Valley Taste Trip
With a plethora of local wines, live music, and a gourmet barbecue, this sunset soiree is designed to be a showcase of Tasmania’s magnificent Tamar Valley: the epicentre of foodie paradise. Curated with the other in mind, the wine list and playlist meld together to create a feast for the senses; all with the breathtaking view of the Tamar River courtesy of restaurant hosts, Hubert & Dan, and their back deck.
Uta Uber Kool Ja
Staged as an immersive party, consider this your formal invitation to a night at Uta’s. Centred around the fading glamour of a former almost-celebrity, Uta Uber Kool Ja will charm the fishnet tights clean off you with the story of a struggling manqué’s desire to stay relevant. There’ll be a chance to dress up, get down, and sink bubbles with the most vibrant former pop sensation you’ve never even heard of.
Launceston dance troupe, Stompin are like the poster-kids of Junction Arts Festival: they’re artistic, entertaining, and love taking over unconventional spaces. The atypical landscape is Stompin’s favourite canvas and they’re dedicated to helping young artists fully develop their talents. This year Stompin is presenting a showcase developed under the sage mentorship of renowned dance artist Liesel Zink.
The Tweed Run
This is one occasion where Penny-farthings finally get the reverence they deserve. The Tweed Run is a bit of a Junction tradition, inviting cyclists of all pedal varieties to suit up in tweed and partake in a scenic circuit of Launceston’s finest architecture. After the ride, cyclists will be served cucumber sandwiches and plenty of Pimms to replenish their reserves. Register at 11am to start riding at 11:30am and be back in time for the Acoustic Picnic, that’s Sunday sorted.
In Vogue: Songs By Madonna
An icon of musical theatre, all you cabaret cats out there will not want to miss Michael Griffiths critically acclaimed performance at this year's Junction Arts Festival. In Vogue: Songs By Madonna is an ode to Queen Madge; chock full of her iconic songs accompanied by Griffiths famous wit and sass, it'll have you danching in the rows and lolling out loud.
Adding to Junction’s rollercoaster of cultural glory is the Acoustic Picnic. This event is a brilliant closer because it’s 100% free and lets you flounder around on a picnic blanket while the likes of Madalena, Sundaze, Tom Fowkes and Seth Henderson and the Beautiful Chains serenade you with acoustic mellow. Food and drink available from food vans and festival bars but feel free to bring a basket.
If you're keen to check out what's happening down in Launceston this year (because of course you are), plan your trip to see this yesr's epic Junction Arts Festival, here.
Image credit: Provided by Junction Arts Festival