Hobart's premier event is the last part of the Sydney-Hobart yacht race
. The two hundred or so yachts, which leave Sydney on December 26, arrive in Hobart around December 29, making for a lively New Year's Eve waterfront party. Taste of Tasmania
(Dec 28-Jan 5), a festival promoting Tasmanian food, wine and beer, is held at Princes Wharf to coincide with the arrival of the boats; stalls sell samples of Tasmanian products at around $5 a plate, and there's lots of entertainment.
The week-long Hobart Fringe Festival at the beginning of February has visual arts and performance components; check cafés for flyers. The new 10 Days on the Island festival is Tasmania's first international arts festival, held biannually in March/April in venues around Tasmania (tel 1300/136 784, www.tendaysontheisland.org ); a celebration of island cultures, it combines the best of local arts with the best from island cultures throughout the world. Also held in different locations around Tasmania is the Tasmanian Writer's Festival , held each August and featuring readings and talks from local and international writers (tel 03/6224 0029, www.fearless.net.au/taswriters ). In late February the six-day outdoor Forest Festival held near the Huon River features environmental talks and workshops, market stalls, local and interstate bands, circus performance and DJs; ask at the Zanskar Café for details. The whole city shuts down on October 24 during the Royal Hobart Show (Oct 23-26), an agricultural festival. The Australian Wooden Boat Festival is held in November in even-numbered years, marked by a host of boats moored around the docks; activities include theatrical and musical performances, and there's even a School of Wooden Boat Building offering courses to visitors (tel 03/6266 3486).