Woodford Folk Festival
The Woodford Folk Festival is more than a festival, it is a state of mind.
It starts when you lurch into the dirt car park packed with everything from mud-crusted Kombis to polished Beemers and spot fellow festival goers – ordinary folk who’ve left their weekday personas back in the city and are dressed in colourful uncharacteristic garb – children in Rastafarian hats, men in tie-dye pants, grandmas in gumboots. By the time you’ve passed through the gates and made your way up the lantern fringed butterfly habitat you’re someplace else. Welcome to Woodford.
In fact everyone should spend a day at this hinterland arts and music festival at least once before they die. Yes it is guaranteed to be either searing hot or sopping wet but that’s part of the experience, part of the acute sense of being alive that this festival generates.
When was the last time you danced spontaneously to blues’n’roots while knee deep in mud amidst a crowd ranging from 0 to 80? Tucked into fabulous multicultural food in a lantern lit tent whilst stilt-walkers and fire-eaters pass by? Made things with clay and watched a Punch & Judy style show with the kids? Lay on woven rugs and cushions sipping Chai and watching a flamenco guitarist? Been the recipient of a thousand smiles? Laughed yourself silly at breakfast comedy? Wore a silly hat and learned to juggle? Reclined on a grassy hill under the stars and listened to the sound of a jazz band fill the night sky? Watched puppets and burlesque circus, listened to inspirational speakers and ex-Prime Ministers? Chatted easily to a host of strangers from all walks of life? Watched the sun rise over distant mountains and valleys on New Year’s Day? Totally forgot who you were and what time it was?
When after all that it’s time to leave, the sign at the Exit – a street sign pointing to Reality – sums it up. After a day, or better still, a week, immersing yourself in the music, food, ambience, massages, talks, art, characters and performances on this magical wooded property in the Sunshine Coast hinterland the world feels like a jolt of unwelcome reality.
If that’s not enough to whet the appetite for Australia’s leading folk festival, here are just some of the program highlights for 2014:
Leading the line-up this year are Gang of Youths, Amanda Palmer and Methyl Ethel as well as Canada's Half Moon Run and USA's Steve Politz, Chad Morgan and Paul Kelly & Charlie Owen.
Circus and cabaret rule at Woodford, with a myriad of acts and cabaret artists including Meow Meow, Otto and Astrid, Gregory Page and more
Dance runs the gamut from Flamenco to Bollywood, with performances from around the globe and a whole bunch of interactive workshops in everything from solo to circle and social dancing.
Visual Arts & Crafts
By day Woodford folk can try their hand at everything from printing and pottery to costume making and sketching, with Wardrobia the place where the fairy godmother transforms them into a living artwork based on their works and the Lettering House a quaint place to spill the contents of the heart. Meantime by night Woodford’s artisans mesmerize the crowds with their demos of extraordinary skills.
Woodford is awash with colourful ceremonies, from the 3 Minutes of Silence on New Year’s Eve, the Scottish traditional knees-up of Hogmanay, Nightly Processions of a cast of characters on the streets, the New Year’s Sun Rise Ceremony on the Hilltop and the Children’s Lantern parade and great amphitheatre gathering for the Fire Event on New Year’s Day.
Woodford is renowned for its line-up of prominent public figures giving talks, with Bob Hawke leading the charge this year, along with Charles Firth, Sandy McCutcheon, Richard Denniss and a cast of other interesting folk.
Meditation in Motion
Get right into the zone and take part in yoga, tai chi and all kinds of meditation and well-being rituals and ceremonies throughout the festival. Daily occurrences on the Hilltop, Sculpture Ridge, at the Blue Lotus, Dancehall or Village Green.
In the dedicated children’s zone is a world of new and old-fashioned wonderment, with a whole heap of arts and crafts activities such as sculpting, painting and weaving, story-telling, face painting, circus tricks and ongoing performances from puppet masters, mime artists, singers, comedians and entertainers.
Need to know: For a truly mind-blowing experience, stay for Woodford’s special New Year celebration on the night of January 1st - the ultimate end to an extraordinary festival. Dedicated buses run from various Sunshine Coast locations to Woodford and back throughout the festival.
Woodford Folk Festival
34 Coronation Av
Dec 27-Jan 1