Having missed out on Napier’s renowned Art Deco Festival last year, being off riding the length of New Zealand for a couple of weeks, I was not going to let the same thing occur two years on the trot. So I bought a secondhand three-piece suit, pulled my fedora out from the wardrobe, snapped on some braces and rustled up a stripy bow-tie and prepared to check it all out.
Now in its twenty-ninth year, the festival celebrates Napier’s Art Deco heritage (much of the city was rebuilt in the style after a devastating earthquake, and fire, in 1931) with what seems to be a five-day long dress-up party – the twenties and thirties being the theme. Downtown is crowded with people in all sorts of elaborate outfits, there are vintage cars everywhere, and pages & pages worth of events & parties and more besides.
Thankfully for Hawke’s Bay’s countryside, the drought that was setting in broke heavily with over a hundred millimetres of rain in three days. This did however coincide with the height of the celebrations – most unfortunate. Countless events were moved inside and many cancelled – including the most renowned: all three vintage plane flight shows were done for as the planes couldn’t make it here. But the show did go on, and on it went in spectacular (if a little soggy) style.
Most of the public events centre around Marine Parade and the sound shell – opposite the wonderful Masonic, where many gathered.
Cars weren’t the only historic vehicles out and about.
Saturday afternoon’s vintage car parade was well attended by umbrellas. The Bentley club was in town from all over, impressive.
Beautiful cars, and many of them – those in open-topped ones looked decidedly damp.
There was plenty of opportunity to admire the vehicles afterwards.
This number plate caught my eye.
A few of the cars were originally from Napier.
Bikes even got a look in.
Apart from looking at cars, there were plenty of other interesting street scenes.
OK, there may have been more looking at cars.
I bumped into many people from work over the weekend – this time an American visitor, Jody, who I managed to get this photo (and the better ones in this post) from.
Sunday morning was finally dry and the Soap Box Derby went ahead. A pretty tame course down Tennyson St, the pushers had five metres to get their racers up to speed before letting gravity and momentum do the rest. Most of the soap boxes were elaborate and some made multiple appearances as different siblings from the same family raced in various age categories.
Yes, more cars – particularly struck by the body work on this one.
This was probably the oldest car around.
Sunday continued to warm, and was very humid. After a brief walk showing Jody some of the sights around Napier Hill and some lunch, it was time to get the town bike out for a little pootle. I’d foregone the organised bike ride Saturday morning on account of the persistent rain.
I did manage to get another photo of myself from an obliging passerby.
The Gatsby Picnic got moved off the soggy lawn it is always on, most picnicers went down the main street of town – this couple set up near Tom Parker Fountain and seemed to spend more time posing for photos than eating.
A most excellent weekend of fun and history – even if it was somewhat curtailed by the weather. I’m really looking forward participating more in next year’s celebrations.