By Ellen Hill
Prepare to doff your fedora or polish your pearls and celebrate a golden era of opulence, architecture and jazz music when the annual Roaring 20’s Festival and all that Jazz! kicks up its heels again in February 2013.
Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism chairman Randall Walker said the popular festival (February 1 to 24) was a fabulous way to celebrate the halcyon days of the region.
“The 1920s was when the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region really came into its own and cemented its reputation as the nation’s premier tourist destination.
“Some of Australia’s finest mansions and grand hotels like The Carrington and The Mountain Heritage at Katoomba were well established and others like The Paragon were opening in such fabulous style that the area was renowned as a decadent playground for the super rich.
“You can still catch a glimpse of that indulgent world today in many of the buildings, and we certainly hope to recapture some of that post-war magic through this wonderful festival.’’
Festival director Sandy Luxford said the Roaring 20’s Festival, inspired by a trip to famous 1920s-era town Napier in New Zealand several years ago, paid homage to the decade when the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region cut loose in an endless round of hedonism – sumptuous architecture, costume balls and high teas, saucy clothing, outrageous (for the time) dancing and jazz music.
“It was an era when everyone wanted to forget World War I and its restrictions, its tragedy and drabness and have fun in a colourful, bold new world,’’ she said.
“The `20s was a boom time in this region, and there is still a great `20s flavour up here. The festival lets people celebrate the region’s history while enjoying the many, wonderful modern attractions we boast today.’’
To be held at venues throughout the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region and featuring high teas, jazz performances, historical walks, 1920s-themed transport rallies and much more, the festival program offers an event for everyone.
Among the highlights will be the Grand Art Deco Ball at The Carrington Hotel, the Highlands Steam & Vintage Fair at Oberon, Cinema Under the Stars at Waldorf Leura Gardens Resort featuring 1920s classic movies; a `20s Afternoon with Phryne Fisher highlighting `20s fashion with Festival Ambassador and owner of the exquisite Darnell Collection of International Vintage Couture Charlotte Smith, and `20s Tango at the Paragon.
One of the most anticipated highlights will launch the whole festival – the Blue Mountains Charleston Challenge attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the greatest number of costumed people dancing the Charleston at Leura Mall on February 2.
“Last year’s attempt was a brilliant effort and we were thrilled that so many people embraced the idea but wasn’t quite enough to break the record,’’ Sandy said.
“We need at least 251 people dancing for five minutes in costume (a boa and a black dress will do) this year. I’m sure we will do it as those who danced last year return more determined than ever joined by people unable to join in last year or those hearing about it for the first time.’’
Mr Walker said: “What a fantastic opportunity for dance studio students, school groups, families or anyone else who would like to be part of history in the making. It’s not often you get the chance to set a new world record and this one will be easy and great fun.’’
Would-be record breaking “flappers’’ and “gangsters’’ can even arrive in true 1920s style on The Blue Mountains Flyer diesel train in time for the challenge.
Departing Central station and stopping at Strathfield, Westmead and Penrith, the train will arrive at Leura at 11am then proceed to Katoomba. It will depart Katoomba at 3pm and Leura at 3.15pm and return to Central.
After the Challenge, dancers are invited to rest their feet under the trees in Leura Mall and enjoy the ever-popular Automobile Picnic in Leura Mall.
The event, staged by Leura Village Association in conjunction with Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism, will transform the picturesque village back to the 1920s with live entertainment, costumed characters and a convoy of vintage cars, motor bikes and historical vehicles (many of which featured in the Underbelly Razor TV series and Betty Boop, a star of the new Great Gatsby movie).
Go to www.roaring20s.com.au for a full program of Roaring 20’s Festival and all that Jazz! events, to register for the Blue Mountains Charleston Challenge and to book a seat on the Blue Mountains Flyer diesel train.