If you've never been to the Blue Mountains before, Winter Magic may be the event to get you there. A celebration of the winter solstice, the festival is the biggest event on the Blue Mountains' calendar and an example of the rich arts culture in the area.
The biggest attraction of the event is the street parade, which runs along Katoomba Street, Main Street and Parke Street, so you should make sure you're here by 11.30am, when it starts. Be prepared for crowds though, as no-one wants to miss out on all the costumed groups, musicians, local schools and clubs (no vehicles are allowed).
Colourful performers from the street parade
When these streets aren't hosting the parade, they're lined with stalls. There are the more typical commercial ones, but many reflect the arts focus of the festival and sell clothes, bags, crystals and rocks, and more.
The markets didn't stay quite for long, trust me
Performances are a big part of Winter Magic and shows scheduled throughout the day. In 2013, venues included The Family Hotel,.Hotel Gearin, The Cultural Centre, The Carrington and Katoomba Uniting Church. The last of these, which hosted In La'Kesh, was as much about atmosphere as the music, with food available, pillows on the floor and a kids' area up the back.
Performers at In La'kesh
One key musical event that takes place every year is the busking competition. It lasts for a few hours and includes everyone from young kids doing their first performance to locals you can see around all the time. If you're lucky, you may also discover buskers and street performers around at other times too (the far end of Katoomba Street is a good place to try)
The first performer at the busking competition
There are food stalls and local shops to stop you going hungry at the festival and you'll also find rides for the kids (though these are less prominent than you might expect). In 2013 there were circus shows and workshops as well.
Kids practicing their circus skills
Everything starts winding down in the afternoon, but if you're staying the night in the area, the fun doesn't have to stop. Some venues, like The Family Hotel, host later performances and the evening is a good time to check out ArtStreet, an exhibition of artworks in the windows of some of the stores along Katoomba Street (each work relates to the store it's in).
The tale of a lost hat could be found in the local hattery in 2013
Since the festival takes place in winter, it's not the best time to enjoy some of the other attractions around Katoomba, like the bushwalks. However, you can still enjoy the famous Three Sisters, Scenic World, the local galleries and, if you want to know more about the area, you should head to the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, which focuses on the art, heritage and culture of the Blue Mountains.
When: Around the time of the Winter Solstice