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I'm David Lasky and I'm director of the Antarctic Midwinter Festival here in Hobart, Tasmania 2006.

2006 is the fifth year of the Antarctic Mid-Winter Festival here in Hobart during June and it celebrates both our historic and contemporary connections with Antarctica, but also more importantly the winter solstice which for all Hobartians is a special time here in Tasmania when we enjoy both the longest night and the shortest day of the year.

The Antarctic Mid-Winter Festival which centres on the solstice each year around the twenty first or the twenty second of June and includes a whole range of events in and around Hobart that connect our contemporary understanding and historic relationships with Antarctica and provide a whole range of opportunities for members of the public to experience both the science, the history and the fun of midwinter and our Antarctic connections and just get out in winter and enjoy our lovely Tasmanian winters.

We open the festival with a lantern parade, a parade of petrel and albatross lanterns that are made by local schoolchildren and follow a course from a park down to a square in Salamanca where we actually have a fire show.

This links back the fire aspect of this festival which goes back to pagan times because the winter solstice has been celebrated with fire and through fire since pagan times.

On the Antarctic continent, when the longest night comes and the shortest day it's an incredibly important time for those who are wintering down there.

In Antarctica at this time of year there is in fact no life and unlike here in Tasmania where it gets dark about four thirty in the afternoon, they've been living in darkness for some time so as you can imagine it's incredibly important to celebrate that change of the light and the coming of summer.

Here in Hobart we celebtrate the solstice through this festival but tonight we have a solstice party which is in the Salamanca buildings and families and children come to celebrate with us the arrival of the solstice.

This festival, the Antarctic Mid-Winter Festival, has chosen some of those elements of fire and ice, these yings and yangs if you like, to help us in celebration of both fertility and the coming of the summer and therefore the harvest.
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