26 Jun 2011

Heat Festival

This week we passed winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere (21st June.)This means that days are going to get progressively longer and nights progressively shorter. Hurray!

It is the first time I’m in the southern hemisphere at this time of the year. Last year I was in Carboneras  , a village on the southern coast of Spain, where people celebrated the summer solstice with their close ones by lighting fires on the beach and spending the warm evening eating and drinking around them 

Perhaps thinking of the celebrations that take place across the globe around this date, to celebrate either winter solstice in the southern hemisphere or summer solstice in the northern hemisphere, Newcastle Council  has celebrated  the Heat Festival for the last eight years.

I went to the Honeysuckle promenade last weekend to check out what the festival had to offer before heading to Bocados, a Spanish restaurant, for dinner.

It was cold and there were some interesting fire displays that helped people get warm and provided a beautiful contrast against the dark winter night. 

Artist Ken O’Regan built a light installation that gave children a fairy tale-style background for their play: 


Also, a stall making wooden wands for the little ones was incredibly popular and proved how children can be very happy with the simplest of toys.

Compared with the fires of Carboneras, the celebrations of Newcastle seem much more Health and Safety-conscious. 

The wands were a success. However, it would have been good to have vendors serving nice, winter, malt wine or more of them selling hot chocolate. Even churros may be a good addition. I know, I’m biased towards them, but I think they could be a success if any of the cafes in the area offered them.  I myself was able to enjoy my portion later in the night and really enjoyed them.