Putting a bright spin on midwinter blues

LAUREN HAYES
Last updated 10:01 07/06/2013
Ree Richards and Rebecca Amundsen
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ

Fire and Light Midwinter Festival organisers Ree Richards, left, and Rebecca Amundsen prepare flying lanterns and mural paint for tonight's event.

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Organisers of Invercargill's newest midwinter event are hoping glow-in-the-dark golf and medieval sword fighting will help residents banish the winter blues.

The Fire and Light Midwinter Festival, which will be held in Glengarry, Invercargill, tonight, was the brainchild of Glengarry community market organisers Rebecca Amundsen and Ree Richards.

Mrs Amundsen said other cities, like Dunedin with its lantern festival and Queenstown with its winter festival, held events to brighten up winter and it was time Invercargill got in on the act.

"Everybody in Southland is usually a little negative about winter and we thought we should do something to celebrate it."

As well as several glow-in-the- dark activities, musical entertainment and craft stalls, a wide variety of food would be available for purchase like mussel fritters and a fundraising sausage sizzle, she said.

Mrs Amundsen hoped to establish the festival as a regular event on the Southland calender, with the experience becoming bigger and better each year.

However, the quest to make the first festival a success had not been all smooth sailing, she said.

Mrs Amundsen had to seek firefighters' approval to include flying lanterns in the programme because of the fire risk the lanterns posed to buildings and vegetation in the area.

"Unfortunately, they have said they don't recommend that we use them because they're designed to be lit and let off over water."

Instead, the pair employed some creative thinking and developed an anchoring system which would allow the lanterns to fly a few metres in the air without endangering buildings, she said.

The Fire and Light Midwinter Festival will be held tonight at the Eastside Baptist Church, from 6pm. Entry is free.

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