Once a year, the little village of Cygnet — less than an hour’s drive south from Hobart — is transformed into a bustling international music festival. This year, professional acts from as far away as Denmark joined Tasmanian musicians as part of the official Cygnet Folk Festival line-up.

Contra dancing at Cygnet Folk Festival, Tasmania, Janary 2015
Lana and Brioni eagerly join the line-up of dancers. They participated last year and so remember some of the steps.

It was a pleasure to meet up again with our friends from the Hobart contra dancing group. I felt like we had returned to the embrace of a small, vibrant community.

This activity was the only ticketed event I got to all weekend, as we were busy the rest of the time with kids’ activities or at camp. Still, as the girls get older, I know we’ll start participating in music festivals at a more sophisticated level.

Band performance at Cygnet Folk Festival, Tasmania, Janary 2015
Tasmanian locals Bea and the Boys keep us dancing with lively compositions.

During the day, thousands of spectators merged with the performers on the street and in the parks. Venues offered master-classes, workshops and concerts. Everything from slam poetry to finger-picking was on offer, and we loved to browse the market stalls which showcased the best of Tasmanian crafts.

Cygnet Folk Festival, Tasmania, January 2015
Crowds collect in the green centre of town where marketstalls and an open stage transform the park into an entertainment precinct.

Market stalls at Cygnet Folk Festival, Tasmania, January 2015
Many stallholders are showcasing handmade handicrafts and foodstuffs.

Musicians at Cygnet Folk Festival, Tasmania, January 2015
The public performing stage offers an eclectic range of performances.

Taka playing at Cygnet Folk Festival, Tasmania, January 2015
In the heat of the day, we sit on the grass directly in front of the stage to encourage our friend Taka on the hang drum.

We camped alongside Taka last summer, and he’s still carrying a note in his wallet that Brioni wrote for him. It says, “I am your number 1 fan.” Taka started playing the hang last year and has since used it to busk his way around the world, travelling to Europe last year and returning to Australia for the summer.

Circus-skills workshop, Cygnet Folk Festival, Tasmania, January 2015
Circus-skills are brought outside from the Big Top and are offered instead on the lawn to anyone who wants to participate.

Musicians at Cygnet Folk Festival, Tasmania, January 2015
The pavements are packed with buskers. Just walking up and down provides enough entertainment that you don't actually need to enter the main performance venues.

Musicians at Cygnet Folk Festival, Tasmania, January 2015
With the pavement real-estate all taken, Bea and the Boys play on the back of a tip-truck!

The magic of Cygnet Folk Festival is in the crowds who eagerly participate in the events, who share the communal spaces at the campground and who cheer the musicians who are brave enough to perform in public. We love coming to Cygnet Folk Festival, and as soon as tickets go on sale in September, we’ll be securing our places at next year’s event!