Jane Austen alive again at University House

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“CAN you believe it – this is the seventh year I’m doing it,” said a breathless Aylwen Garden-Gardiner, founder and director of the annual Jane Austen Festival Australia, coming up again next week.

Photography by Steven Shaw
Photography by Steven Shaw

Billed as “the only festival in Australia where you can dance like Jane Austen or party like Napoleon and learn about so many aspects of Jane Austen’s life and times,” this year it will also celebrate 200 years since the publication of Austen’s novel, “Mansfield Park”.

For the first time ever, the event, part of the ACT Heritage Festival, will be held at University House on the ANU campus, necessitating a different booking arrangement that makes it essential for participants to purchase tickets before sales close on Monday.

It should be worth it. “150 people in Regency costume is quite a sight to behold,” she said.

Garden-Gardiner told “CityNews” that all ages would be welcome and that so far they had registrants aged from 10 to 80. She added, “The programme is full of cultural activities of the time such as dancing, hand sewing, embroidery, bonnet-making workshops, games, martial arts and music. We’ll even be serving Syllabub, one of our favourite recipes from the Regency period”.

On the Friday night, April 12, formal dinner will be served, we are people will be entertained as they were in Regency times, with singing, dancing and musical entertainments.
“Saturday night’s crowd will be abuzz with excitement as Austen aficionados play ‘dress ups’ at the Grand Regency Ball.”

Photography by Steven Shaw
Photography by Steven Shaw
On the Sunday, April 13, there will be the “Mansfield Park” symposium, after which,   “everyone dons their costumes for a promenade and picnic in the Botanic Gardens, followed by the ever-popular Jane Austen Cotillion Ball back in the Common Room at University House”.

It will, in short, be a blast from an elegant past.
Jane Austen Festival Australia, at University House,  Australian National University, April 11-13. From Thursday 11 to Sunday 13 April 2014. Bookings at janeaustenfestival.com.au close strictly on Monday.

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Helen Musa
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