Tasmania welcomes the Winter Solstice with twelve days of music and art.

In ancient times winter was a fairly gloomy proposition. The world was darker, crops would perish and, if it were a long winter, a scarcity of resources would ensue. And yet it was also a time of festivities and celebration. The gradual contraction and expansion of the length of the days over the winter period placed special emphasis on the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, as the centrepiece of the festivities for many cultures. The Romans observed the Feast of Saturnalia, which celebrated the rebirth of the sun. Pagan’s celebrated Yuletide, which was eventually usurped by the Christian festival of Christmas (in the northern hemisphere that is).

Tasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art presents its own celebration of winter festivities with Dark Mofo, the winter Festival Of Music and Art. Curated by MONA Creative Director Leigh Carmichael, the festival draws upon the winter gloom as a focus for ten days of musical innovation.

This year's Dark Mofo consists of over 30 different events, ranging from concerts, film screenings, interactive theatre, art installations and more. The festival is branching out from MONA, utilising other historic or underutilised sites. “We can’t wait for winter in Tasmania,” said  Leigh Carmichael in an interview with Tom Williams at musicfeeds.com. “This year Dark Mofo breaks new ground; working with the City of Hobart implementing the Creative Hobart Strategy, we will be activating spaces previously unused or under utilised, like the Town Hall Underground and Prince of Wales Battery, as well as establishing a new festival hub, in the historic Odeon Theatre.”

Highlights for the festival are numerous. When it comes to darkness, few can challenge the eerie sound world that Diamanda Galas has spent her career perfecting. Most famous for her operatic trilogy Masque of the Red Death, which explored the suffering of AIDS victims, Galas takes her unique vocal explorations of jazz and blues to disquieting new places, unveiling a new work Das Fieberspital for voice, piano and electronics.

Sunn O)))’s extremes of drone, doom and noise are no stranger to Australian audiences. Sunn O))) will return to Australia in an exclusive concert for Dark Mofo, and will be supported by doom pioneers Earth and ambient outfit Veil of Darkness.

David Lynch is a filmmaker like no other, a skilled sculptor of surrealistic imagery and fractured narratives that explore the darkness of unexpected elements of everyday life. The Lynchian femme fatale has almost become a character trope in its own right. The performance by his latest muse Chrysta Bell is sure to interest enthusiasts of the strange and haunting as Bell performs songs from her debut album, This Train.

Meanwhile in orchestral musical territory, the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra will be performing a selection of works inspired by the medieval, pagan and ritual elements of the Winter Solstice. The program features Gregorian chants alongside works by Arvo Pärt, John Tavener, Brett Dean and more. The concert will be performed on the Winter Solstice (July 21).

For all the details check out the Dark Mofo website