Before arriving to Sydney a fellow volunteer at the clinic, Reannen (I’m sure that’s spelled 100% wrong) told me about the Winter Magic Festival that happens in the Blue Mountains, she told me if I planned to make the trip I might as well do it the same day. The forecast predicted rain but like all festivals I was sure it would happen rain or shine. Reannen told me it could best be compared to Halloween in the US because everyone goes dressed up, other than that I had no idea what to expect.
When Lilly and I got off the train we saw a bunch of tents up and so we figured that was the direction of the festival. In the tents they were selling all kinds of things, bags, sweaters, candles, food, etc. It was interesting to see many of the bags/sweaters like the ones I bought in Chile were being sold..all for at least triple the price. There were local things like the candles were made from things from the blue mountains and the food was made right in front of you, baked goods from local shops (I had some delicious baklava).
As we were walking through there were children and adults dressed up in different costumes but no one was walking around asking for candy. After walking all the way down the road Lilly and I realized the parade portion of the festival was about to commence and we were standing right at the start of it.
After many inefficient attempts to clear the road (volunteers needed better megaphones) and what felt like an hour of standing the parade began. Just about everyone participating in the parade was in a costume although there were some people walking in it for a cause. For example, I saw various groups with animal rescue pickets as well as a group protesting against the construction of an airport in West Sydney (because it would negatively impact The Blue Mountains and the wildlife that inhabit them). There were also several bands playing, each advertising the school they learned at. I could tell throughout the parade that many participants were local (at least I assumed) because some people were having their names called out in many different directions.
Throughout the parade and within Sydney in general I noticed a lot of LGBTQIA pride, it was beautiful to see, especially after such a tragic event happened in Orlando. There was even a group with signs stating “we love Orlando”, “pray for Orlando”,etc. I’m not sure if the LGBTQIA has always been accepted so openly in Sydney and if it is like this throughout all of Australia but it was wonderful to witness the strength within their community and all their allies.
Overall, the festival was very interesting. The dancing and costumes were very different than things I’ve seen before but they did for a great amount of entertainment. I’m glad I was able to experience this local event as well as the tourist sights I enjoyed while at The Blue Mountains.