Winter in Geraldine is anything but dull, from the eccentric, colourful Ukefest through to the twinkling magic of the Lantern Walk, there is a lot to surprise and entertain! It’s a time to wrap up warm, stoke up the fire for your return and get out to experience the best Geraldine has to offer for the winter season.
As the winter solstice drew near this year, the Peel Forest ceilidh, the biggest event on the annual community calendar, celebrated its 30th anniversary. The old, the young and the kilted were all to be found stripping the willow, dancing the gay gordons and generally dancing up a storm on the dance floor to the Celtic sounds of renowned local band Boru. Complete with shared supper and BYO refreshments this traditional Scottish event harks back to the old days of regular country dances where more than one romance blossomed on the dance floor and it kicks off the winter season in true southern style.
From creativity and expression of one kind to another, the Geraldine High School Wearable Arts Competition took place once again to rave reviews as the school’s textile students showed that cutting edge fashion need not only be the domain of their big city cousins. 31 outfits were modelled on the night with the overall winning entry, themed on lady luck, using more than 8 decks of cards. For those who couldn’t snap up tickets to the show in time, a selection of the winning outfits has been on display for all to see at the Pin Tin.
The Academy of Performance & Arts was a hive of busyness as mid-winter approached, with preparation for the 2019 ‘Return of the Light’ Geraldine Lantern Walk in full flight. Drop-in working bees saw the whole community pull together to create giant lanterns for the official trail, while workshops tutored kids in the fine art of creating their own personal lanterns (crescent moons and stars) which they were invited to carry on the lantern walk, held on the middle weekend of the school holidays.
On an unseasonably balmy July evening around 500 people gathered under a cluster of 9 giant paper stars of Matariki in Kennedy Park and were treated to a morris dancing demonstration from the local Fiery Peak Morris Dance Troop before being led across the bridge, and along the walkway, by young fairies in white twinkling costumes.
Seeing the river festooned with floating lanterns set off the first of many oohs and aahs among the crowd which snaked its way along the darkened riverside walkway to discover a wonderland of lanterns. People paused, gasped, pointed, took pictures and gazed in wonderment before slowly winding their way to the Academy courtyard to warm hands and cheeks at the braziers dancing with flames, toast marshmallows and supp on hot chocolate before melting away into the darkness of the night and calls of home.
This ethereal and almost mystical experience runs counterpoint to the bold, bright, tune filled eccentricity that is the Geraldine Ukefest, taking place just a week later.
Now in its 7th year the Geraldine Ukefest attracts people from around the world and has been billed, by the industry’s ‘bible’ Ukulele Magazine, as one of the top ukulele festivals worldwide. The headline act this year was Lorenzo Vignando, aka Ukulollo, coming all the way from Italy to perform his unique brand of music and cinemagic.
With 4 days of workshops, concerts, impromptu uke performances around the town (uke bombing) and uke serenading in cafes, the town really does go uke crazy. Uke themed dishes appear in local eateries, the lamp posts flutter with colourful uke hibiscus flags and the streets are filled with happy, colourful people brandishing small instrument cases as they hurry, chattering and laughingly, to the next event on the festival schedule. The ukefest is an event to be experienced!
There are another group of colourfully clad folk to be found on the streets around this time of year – often in search of good coffee and a hot breakfast, or, at the end of the day a warm fire and a hot toddy. These are skiers and snowboarders indulging their passion for the white stuff.
While it took a little while for the snow to appear this year, due to the clear crisp and sunny days, there is plenty around now for all to enjoy. Check out why Geraldine makes such a great base for a snow holiday in our Ski, Skate, Snow article. Whether you are a seasoned veteran, or an absolute beginner Geraldine and surrounds can offer you a great snow holiday.
For those travelling to the ski fields, or away for the school holiday break, the new online ordering system at the Fresh Choice Geraldine supermarket has been heaven sent. No longer is there a need to shop, stock and pack up the car chock full of groceries prior to a trip, now travellers can click and collect at Fresh Choice as they travel through to their destination. The locals love the service as well and there are always special offers and goodies for online shoppers which really do sweeten the deal!
In amongst all this mid-winter activity the town has also been celebrating the successes of some our talented young people as they achieved recognition on the global stage in recent weeks.
Singer/songwriter Aldous (Hannah) Harding made her TV debut, performing live on the Jimmy Fallon Show, in the US amid growing international acclaim for her album Designer, while Allan Oldfield became a double world blade shearing champion (single and team) in his very first attempt at the title in France.
Hannah’s mum, multi Tui Award winning artist Lorina Harding, watched her daughter’s performance via a live stream from a friend in Canada while Allan had Dad Phil (Former NZ and world ranked blade shearing champ himself) by his side to cheer him on and Mum, Jo, watched the action online back in Geraldine into the wee small hours.
Maybe there’s something in the water but Geraldine certainly seems to be a town of champions, as decreed by the Geraldine News, boasting Hayden Paddon (World rally Driver), Austen Deans (artist), John Badcock (artist), Jason Leary (World Left-Handed Golf Champ) and Jordan Luck (Singer), to name but a few, as residents past and present.
With Geraldine man Marco Versfeld qualifying for the world Ironman championships later this year and 19 yr. old Jackson Minnear recently selected as the member for Waitaki for the New Zealand Youth Parliament there are sure to be further accolades to be celebrated in the pipeline.
Other exciting happenings, in and around town, just now include the much-anticipated renovation of the historic Woodbury Store. This will be one to watch as the almost derelict store is once again turned into the heart of a thriving community as an eatery and destination store.
And the Barker’s of Geraldine new eatery and store is due to open in September next to the lovingly restored Vicarage set in the same grounds above the Waihi River walkway. The Vicarage will offer a unique accommodation experience right in the heart of Geraldine
Geraldine NZ really is the place to be this winter so why not come visit us and join in the fun?