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Blue Mountains Tourist : Winter 2011
Mountain magic -- here again! The festival has grown into one of Australia's largest community festivals, attracting 40,000 people to Katoomba in one day. Winter Magic is held each year on the closest Saturday to the Winter Solstice and celebrates the magic of Winter and the journey back to Spring. It's a FREE family-friendly fancy dress festival. The day kicks off with stallholders lining the streets with an enticing range of food, a great variety of arts and crafts and clothing. There are even stalls with face painting and dress-ups for those who forget their costumes. The street performers and buskers start to wander as the crowds gather. One of the day's highlights is the street parade which leaves Katoomba Public School in Waratah Street at 11.30, making its way up Katoomba and Main Streets. Anyone is welcome to join in the colour, noise and fun, either as an individual or with a group. As part of the day's entertainment, there are eight stages with over sixty free acts. The great busk-off returns this year with excellent prizes. In the evening, the fireworks light the sky to end the day's free festivities. For the grown-ups, The Carrington Hotel hosts the Winter Magic Balls -- the Grand Ball in the sumptuous Carrington Dining room; and The Peasant's Ball in the Carrington Ballroom. Tickets are available from The Carrington Hotel. ArtStreet is an annual art exhibition and one of Winter Magic's most popular satellite events. The exhibition runs from the 11th to the 25th of June. The art works are prominently exhibited in shop windows along Katoomba, Waratah and Main Streets. Be sure to keep an eye out as you wander the streets and vote for your favourite work in the peoples' choice. Winter Magic attracts crowds from all over the country. For many locals it is also a reunion as many people who have moved away from the area flock back in their dress-ups for the festivities and to catch up with friends and family. Winter Magic's organisers encourage visitors to catch the train into town to reduce traffic and pollution. A great way to get there is to catch the Heritage Express steam train from Sydney for the festival. More information can be found at www.wintermagic.com.au Katoomba's Winter Magic Festival was started by a small group of volunteers who were trying to involve the local community in Yulefest. www.bluemountainstouristnewspaper.com.au winter 2011 18