Woodford Folk Festival
The photo above is of the Rooms of the Heart sculpture/stage (maybe 15 metres tall). In 2013 the festival theme was of the heart, of how insanity seems to be controlling the heart. In this stage all kinds of demons and vandals ran amok. At the conclusion to the closing ceremony this was burnt as a cleansing ritual, where sanity prevails and the heart is victorious!!.
Woodford Folk Festival
Most years for the last 14 years on Boxing Day (the day after Xmas ) I have found myself on the road to the Woodford Folk Festival just northwest of Brisbane, in Jinibara country.
The car (and sometimes a trailer as well) is loaded up with masses of camping gear. I don’t believe that camping must mean uncomfortable so like to have a comfy bed, cooker, tables, chairs and a nice bottle of something to enjoy while at my campsite.
Once through the reception area then finding a good campsite is the first thing. There are clean amenity (shower and toilet) blocks within 50 metres of every campsite so it is not like roughing it at all.
The Woodford festival site is massive, set as it is on a 500 acre (200 hectares) property about five ks outside of the town of Woodford. The average daily attendance of 20,000 people mostly camp in the campgrounds that are spread out over many acres.
There is even a shuttle bus that circuits the campground to take people to the festival site entrance and can bring you home at night if you don’t like to walk for five to 10 minutes back to your tent.
Amazingly enough in the 10 or so festivals I have been to, where I leave my tent and everything open (It is difficult to lock a tent even if you wanted!!) I have never had anything taken from my tent, and nor have any of my friends.
What is it about Woodford Folk Festival?
I go to Woodford each year to be inspired. Woodford is a music and culture festival, where local and international musicians, dancers, speakers, circus acts, the 2500 volunteers and the festival goers all come together for a week of great music, fun, harmony, peace and community.
Mostly the feeling I leave Woodford with is one of being in love with life again. Of having made sweet friendships, of being occasionally made to look silly by the awesome street theatre that is a constant presence on the streets, and of just having really enjoyed being around so many other people from the age of 2 to 90 having a great time in a friendly way.
The various sculpture installed around the festival give an indication of the free spirit of the Woodford community. There is so much visual beauty on offer it is hard to take it all in. Even after so many years and so many visits I still get amazed.
See the bottom of this page for lots of photos of the Woodford Folk Festival, a collection of pics from the 10 or so festivals I have attended.
Many are of the amazing new bamboo tunnel, plus the usual additions to the art park that the festival site is becoming. There are some pics of the general street theatre, some of the lights on the trees at night, the stage and crowd at the ampitheatre where the big acts play, also some pics of the various sculptures around.
The festival site has many venues, most of which are large tents where up to 2-3,000 people can sit, while some are smaller, and there is a large open-air venue where up to 25,000 can gather to watch some more popular acts, and where the opening and closing ceremonies are held.
Woodford is a great place to take kids to, as they are just enthralled with the street theatre and they get to see some big concerts by some famous acts that they already know of which is simply not possible in normal life. Plus it is a bit of cultural education seeing so many people up close from all walks of life.
There is a fabulous children’s festival within the main festival, where younger kids can enjoy clowns, painting, story telling, craft-work, with many professional and non professional people assisting and taking care.
Parents can relax and enjoy the festival knowing that their kids are happy amused and safe while they go and enjoy the festival. Or parents can stay and enjoy the show also.
A big circus tent has circus acts all day, along with another area where kids can learn circus arts from professionals more than happy to share their knowledge. This is very popular among kids from 8-13. Kids under 12 get free entry to the festival while kids from 12-17 get a discounted rate.
There are many venues where there are talks ranging from eco and enviro speakers talking about different issues and initiatives, along with health practitioners and visionaries sharing their experience.
There are also art and craft tents where you can learn sculpture, or basket weaving, or oil painting, there are lots of options if you are so inclined. You can also learn different dance styles.
Each day some political talks get everyone thinking plus nightly stand-up comedians make you giggle.
Mostly this festival, which starts December 27 and finishes on the night of Jan 1, is a fabulous way to spend that Xmas to new year week, a week that will live in your memory long after you have arrived home.
One of the unfortunate things about a festival like this is that there are so many great things to see but you cannot see everything, and often there are shows from unknown acts that totally blow away their audience.
There is a plethora of food stalls where you can eat healthily and happily for around $10. There are also fancier places as well. Of course if you wish, you can cook at your tent but that requires buying the necessary equipment.
Being taken care of
One major and sometimes overwhelming feeling is that of being taken care of. The 2500 volunteers who do most of the work and who work 5 hours a day in exchange for their ticket are all very happy to be there and to make your experience as enjoyable as possible.
For visitors flying into Brisbane and who do not have their own camping gear, there are many tents for hire, along with stretchers for sleeping, so if you travel from overseas you do not need to buy everything.
For information about this and the festival itself, visit the website, woodfordfolkfestival.com
Woodford is run by the Queensland Folk Federation, a not-for-profit organisation.
Written by Mark O’Brien, February 2014
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