Winter Magic celebrates its 25th year on Saturday

The magic is returning to Katoomba, albeit in a slightly different way. Saturday, June 22 marks the 25th Winter Magic Festival after its shock cancellation last year.

Winter Magic had become an annual institution, attracting up to 40,000 people to a celebration of the winter solstice.

But it had become a victim of its own success, says festival committee president, Naomi Parry.

"The expense of meeting the regulatory requirements [traffic management, risk plans etc] became overwhelming, so the decision was made to put the festival into a hiatus for a year."

Hands, Heart & Feet, seen here at the 2015 festival, will perform their thrilling drums/dance combination as well as conducting a workshop.

Hands, Heart & Feet, seen here at the 2015 festival, will perform their thrilling drums/dance combination as well as conducting a workshop.

A new committee came together and worked on a plan that would maintain the magic and be affordable and sustainable. Unfortunately, that meant the popular parade had to be canned.

"Enormous street closures were required. There was no way for us to run the parade without closing down most of Katoomba and the cost would have been more than $70,000," says Parry.

With a bit of lateral thinking, the committee decided to keep the colour and the fun, hoping the costumes will still be as outlandish and outrageous as ever, while concentrating efforts on featuring local talents.

The result promises to be a great day of celebration, says Parry.

"We want Winter Magic to incubate art all year and so we've invested in a range of community organisations who have been working with local artists to present new work on the day.

The whackier the costume, the better.

The whackier the costume, the better.

"Our performers program will run all day long and we have employed only locals. So the whole event is truly a showcase of Blue Mountains talent."

On 10 stages across the CBD (see program below), there will be folk and flamenco, burlesque and bellydancing, comedy, cabaret and street theatre.

And ArtStreet returns to Katoomba Street until June 30. Works, including ceramic sculptures, installations and photo exhibitions, all around the idea of solstice, will be on display in various premises in town.

Katoomba Street will be closed off and still lined with stalls - about 160 of them, a reduction from previous years.

"We're hoping the street will be less crowded but it still will be a big day," says Parry. I'd encourage people to use the indoor places - get out of the cold and visit the indoor venues." Entertainment is scheduled from 11am until 5 or 6pm (later at some venues).

Of course, the fireworks will light up the sky from the Carrington Lawn at 6.30pm.

One of the endearing features of Winter Magic has been the willingness of participants to dress up. It's not uncommon to see vikings having a beer together, fur-suited animals hoeing into a hot dog, witches, warlocks and wizards chatting with hula hoopers and martial artists.

It's a tradition Ms Parry wants to continue, inviting people to don their wildest representations of this year's theme, which is "Under the Winter Night Sky".

"The fashion police will be inspecting visitors and locals and you don't want to fall foul of them," she said. "We want people to show off crazy Katoomba to our visitors."

Gingerbread and witches? Well, why not?

Gingerbread and witches? Well, why not?

PROGRAM

CARRINGTON PLACE

9am Opening, welcome to country by Aunty Carol Cooper, local public school choirs

CARRINGTON DRIVE

BAROQUE ROOM

Noon Kaziah

2pmJT3

OLD CITY BANK BAR

11:15amWest Lapis

12:30pmNic Danta

AVALON RESTAURANT

4pmDSO

HOTEL METROPOLE

CULTURAL CENTRE

(courtyard)

5:30pmPaper Sun

CULTURAL CENTRE

(forecourt)

CIVIC PLACE

AUNTY JACK'S

5:40pmAntelope

PALAIS ROYALE

12:30pmPorcelain

FAMILY HOTEL

Noon Dusty (dining room)

2016 festival

2016 festival

2017 festival

2017 festival