Charming characters and creatures straight from the pages of fables and fairy stories will transform the city centre into a winter wonderland in Saturday’s Dunedin Midwinter Carnival.
The annual celebration of the winter solstice is one of the city’s most popular events, attracting up to 20,000 spectators and hundreds of participants.
The highlight is the carnival procession around the Octagon, which includes more than 1000 people and hundreds of hand-crafted lanterns.
This year’s theme is “A Winter Tale” – a darker take on beloved fairy tales inspired by the likes of the Brothers Grimm.
Midwinter Carnival artistic director Hannah Johnston and the Carnival Art Team have been hard at work for months, building key giant lanterns depicting popular fairy tales, including Little Red Riding Hood, The Steadfast Tin Soldier, and The Snow Queen
About 140 performers, including stilt walkers, dancers, drummers and musicians from local groups The Unfortunate Repercussions, Waitati Militia, and Mosgiel Brass Band, will bring about 10 fairy tales to life, led by performance co-ordinator Rochelle Brophy.
A team of nine costume-makers is working feverishly to complete costumes – many of them complex.
“It’s crunch time now, so everyone is working very hard,” Ms Brophy said.
A major spectacle of the parade will be the depiction of The Snow Queen – an elaborate giant lantern, which will be worn as a costume by Dunedin stilt-walker Mary Locker (17).
A giant lantern depicting the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood mid-howl will be worn by stilt-walker Jakira Brophy (14).
2018 marks an important year for the Midwinter Carnival team as they launch an ambitious new longer route, in order to give people a better view of the procession.
On Saturday, for the first time, the procession will depart from First Church at 6pm, then travel down Moray Pl, up Stuart St and around the Octagon before returning to First Church via Princes St.
The Midwinter Carnival event will run from 5pm to 8.30pm, and will feature musical performances from Dr Marigaux, Highway 88, and Koile, as well as a fireworks display.
There is a suggested donation of $5 for adults. Children are free.
The postponement date for bad weather is Sunday, July 1.