Celebrating the return of the sun

Midwinter Magic

Living and working in Antarctica is an amazing experience steeped in tradition, and as traditions go, there’s none bigger than the Midwinter celebration! Marked by the winter solstice, this celebration is teed off with a swim in icy water followed by frivolities and feasts.

With the sun at its farthest and Davis station below the Antarctic Circle, it is a dark and cold time of the year, so to brighten things up we need to celebrate the returning of the sun.

To begin we sent a team out to drill a hole into the ice in preparation for our swim. This is quite an operation, with sea ice off the coast over 1m thick. Once preparations were completed it was time to swim. Both excited and nervous we all got into our swimmers and took the plunge, which funnily enough was quite a quick dip with water temperature around −1.8oC and air temperature around −22oC. Gasps, mumbles, shivers, tingling numb sensations, and fight or flight instincts telling us to get out were just some of the reactions to this truly unique experience.

Frivolities kicked off with lawn bowls… indoors of course, with limited daylight and a blizzard on the way. The competition was stiff between the teams Ebowla, Unbowlievable, Glory Bowl and Ball Handlers, but eventually we had our winners, the Ball Handlers! This was followed by mini-golf set up throughout the hallways of the SMQ (Sleeping & Medical Quarters). I don’t think anyone was keeping score at this point but much fun was had.

Lastly, hats off to our amazing chef Nick Baker who worked flat out to prepare us an incredible seven course dinner! With each course inspired by the cuisine of countries with Antarctic stations, our taste buds went on a magic carpet ride from India to Peru, and from Japan to France, China and the UK.

All round it was a fantastic night, and for first-timers like myself, it was a huge tick off the bucket list to celebrate Midwinter in Antarctica.

Amy Carroll (Met Observer, Bureau of Meteorology)