Been to the Blue Mountains Ukulele Festival? The experience is unique. In its 10th year, the multi-award winning event, is held at Katoomba NSW, in and around the iconic Carrington Hotel.

Tom Richter from Maleny Ukulele tells about this year’s experience.

Maleny Ukulele at the Blue Mountains Ukulele Festival

Some went by road, in caravans and motorhomes (or cars unconnected to mobile habitation), running down the Newell or the New England or the Pacific Highways. Some flew and jumped a train up from Sydney. All were in connection via social media, comparing the attractions of Coonabarabran versus Glen Innes versus Grafton.

Assembling at Katoomba Falls Tourist Park (booked well in advance to ensure adjoining sites), various activities were planned (hiking, mountain biking, sight-seeing, partying, lazing around), practice sessions were scheduled, song endings were altered, complaints were filed about song endings being altered, and a general ‘feel of the place’ was obtained.

The Ukulele festival, run by the Blue Mountains Ukulele Group (Blue MUGs), is held annually in and around the heritage-listed Carrington Hotel in Katoomba, with workshops taking place in the Cultural Centre. Getting around the venue is easy, and there are many restaurants and eateries within a short walk.

On the Friday night, a gentle easing in to the festival occurred, including jamming with the host group from their popular songbooks. Saturday was the main day of the festival, and our own Tom Richter conducted a jam-packed workshop in the morning.

Tom Richter leads sellout workshop at BMUF, 2019.

He also played a solo set at the City Bank Bar (with assistance on uke and vocal harmonies from some of the very talented MU members).

Maleny Ukulele’s own set was the closing slot at the Baroque Night Club. Assembling in the very cosy green room, ukes were tuned, straps were adjusted, flowers were applied to hair, last-minute questions were whispered, and then we were announced by Unkle Cyril, our wonderfully eccentric MC. As we launched into our first song, we knew it was going to be great. The sound was amazing, the crowd was transfixed, and we were on fire (doesn’t always happen). Although they knew there was a ‘no-encore’ policy, the crowd bayed for one anyway.

Maleny Ukulele performs at BMUF, 2019.

I thoroughly recommend the Blue Mountains Ukulele Festival. The setting is sublime, the festival well-run and the acts (although no international mega-stars) are very good. Take some time either side of the festival if you can, because it is a long way to travel and there is so much to see and do in the beautiful Blue Mountains.

Tom Richter
Maleny Ukulele