If you love dressing up, dancing, music, parades and all the style and fun of the 1930’s/40’s then you would love the Napier Art Deco festival. Held over 4 days, this festival is absolutely jam packed full of fun things to do and see. It was very hard to choose the ticketed events for our group to do!
After arriving from our drive down from Auckland and meeting up the other two women of our group, we headed off for our Guided Tour of the Art Deco streets and buildings of central Napier. This was a great introduction to our weekend as we learnt about the earthquake that pretty much destroyed Napier but at the same time reclaimed it so that what was under water rose up to became land, (which is now the airport area.) Napier may have been destroyed but what was created to take its place was guided by the fashion, the era, the post war feeling of the time. It was one of hope, splendour, boldness, glamour and the positivity of what was ahead. And it only took 2 years to completely rebuild!!
The itinerary I had planned went by the wayside a bit due to the very wet and rainy weather. We couldn’t complain though as Napier had been in the clutches of a drought and desperately needed this rain. So on Day 2 instead of cycling out to visit wineries we all hopped in my van and headed out on a “Tasting Trip.” First stop was Clearview Winery, where we had a lovely wine tasting session (at 10 in the morning!) Then it was off to Origin Earth, the home of Te Mata cheese for a very informative cheese tasting and delicious lunch at their café. From here it was a short drive to Black Barn for yet another wine tasting at this beautiful winery. As we drove through Havelock North on our way to the Silky Oaks chocolate factory, the women couldn’t resist stopping for a bit of shopping and a look around. We finished our “Tasting Trip” trying out the different fudge flavours at Silky Oaks.
Back at our accommodation in Clive, we had a short rest, before dressing up in all our splendour and heading into Napier for dinner and then the Prohibition Party. Practically everyone we saw was dressed up in the art deco era and we were constantly oohing and ahhing over the absolutely beautiful costumes we saw. There was such an air of festivity everywhere, dancing exhibitions, jazz music, pipe bands, busking, spontaneous dancing and singing, people everywhere, like us, strutting their stuff and looking so cool! We all loved the Prohibition Party, a fun evening full of dancing, entertainment, gambling….and yes, we did get “raided by the cops!”
The next morning we were up relatively early for our seating for the champagne breakfast at the County Hotel. There was such a feeling of decadence as we sipped at our champagne flutes, dressed in our finery, and were waited on for our gourmet breakfast, (and it wasn’t even 9am yet!)
Later that day we stood with many others in the rain, under our umbrellas, and watched the vintage car parade, which was actually more entertaining than I thought it would be. From there we did some sightseeing and ended up in Ahururi for a late lunch before heading back to Clive for a bit of a rest before another night out.
That night was the Ukelele Beach Party except it wasn’t at the beach as their location got flooded out so we were at the Rugby Club. This was a fun sing-along evening which would have been even better had we known how to play the ukulele and brought our own. We managed pretty well with our percussion spoons though!
Finally, the next morning, the sun shone and boy, did it get hot! We drove into Hastings to the Farmers Market and had a delightful time perusing and tasting at all the various stalls, choosing delicious foods for our Great Gatsby picnic. And what a picnic it was. We couldn’t believe all the amazing picnic settings that people had set up as part of the picnic competition; everything from the historic teddy bears picnic to the East India colonialism era.
Bubbly was sipped, delicacies were devoured as we again watched the festivity all around us, the dancers, the strollers, the musicians, and all the old cars…..it was like stepping backwards in time. All too soon though we had to gather up our picnic things and head back to normality and the long drive back to Auckland. It had been such an amazing weekend, despite the weather, and one that I’ll definitely being doing again (and again!)