With the chill of long winter nights firmly set in, Dark Mofo enlivens Hobart with a surprising midwinter festival.
Dark Mofo is a captivating midwinter festival unlike any other. Skewing strange and awry, visitors will find offbeat theatre productions alongside retrospectives of classic films, light shows and late openings of the lauded local museum, Mona, that the festival runs in conjunction with. If you're planning on attenting the next festival, here's a taste of what you'll be in for.
How to get there
Keep an open mind
Dark Mofo is not your ordinary festival, and this is probably why it's gained such an enormous cult fan base. Held in the lead-up to the winter solstice, it can often be confronting, disturbing, thought-provoking, or just plain weird. Some of the more left of field performances have included an artist being voluntarily buried beneath a busy road in Hobart for three days, and a bull carcass being decapitated in front of a live audience. The art on show at Dark Mofo is at the forefront of the contemporary art scene, and it isn’t afraid to shock in order to make a point, so come with an open mind.
The Dark Mofo itinerary is relentless, with talks, performances, exhibitions, and fire pits happening constantly throughout the festival, and guests are free to opt in and out as they will. Many of the tickets sell out long in advance, though there are some musts which welcome everyone and are free. The annual Nude Solstice Swim for starters attracts around 2,000 brave souls. A firm festival favourite, Dark Mofo invites everyone to kick off their clothes and plunge into the chilly winter waters off Long Beach in Sandy Bay. Needless to say, this is not for the faint of heart. Then there's the Burning of the Ogoh-Ogoh, an enormous menacing-looking statue used in traditional Balinese festivals to spiritually purify the natural environment. At Dark Mofo, festival-goers can write down their anxieties and fears and put them in the belly of the statue before it is carried in a procession around the waterfront and then spectacularly set on fire.
Pack your dancing shoes
If you thought this was just a daytime festival, you thought wrong. When the sun goes down over Hobart during Dark Mofo, a whole other program of after-hour acts and performances begin, including some seriously fun afterparties. Previous performers have included FKA Twigs, Nicolás Jaarᶧ, St. Vincent and Chelsea Wolfe among others who have put on some of Dark Mofo’s wildest parties. Pack your comfiest shoes and be prepared for a party you’ll never forget.
Feast like royalty
The gothic banquet is one of the signature events of the Dark Mofo festival that accumulates crowds of up to 18,000 people a night. Expect long abundant tables surrounded by a massive array of stallholders who dish up their world-class food and drinks. There is a huge variety of cuisines and food styles at the Winter Feast, along with fire-cooking on full display.