Vibrant arts boost tourism
Tourism is a growth industry in the Nelson region. Visitors flock to enjoy all the bounty of the sunniest region in the country, and the standard of accommodation is rising all the time. Talented artists and business entrepreneurs are drawn to live and work here, too.
Festivals and fairs provide great entertainment for tourists and locals alike. Nelson is the home of the Montana New Zealand Wearable Art Awards, the Gathering outdoor rave each New Year, the New Zealand Festival of Wheels, and the Golden Bay Scallop Festival, to name just a few events.
It's easy to access these events: drive yourself, join a small friendly tour, or catch one of the regular bus services. Specialist tourism and transport operators, including coastal cruise boats, run regular services to the national parks. For more details, drop in to the Nelson Visitor Information Centre (corner of Halifax and Trafalgar Sts), Motueka Information Centre (20 Wallace St), Richmond Information Centre (Gladstone Rd), Murchison Information Centre (Waller St), and the Golden Bay Information Centre (Willow St, Takaka).
The annual New Year's dance party The Gathering has a growing following year by year. Ravers are entranced by electro-funk and trance music in an outdoor setting. Held until the millennium at Canaan Downs on the Takaka Hill, this year's event - called G1 to signify new beginnings - will be staged at a new site on the Cobb Valley Rd in Golden Bay.
Mid-September sees the annual Wearable Art Awards hit the town. Watch art come off the wall and onto the catwalk. It is a frenetically-paced theatrical and cultural performance; an energising mix of dance, music and creative lighting.
Promoting the local artistic community is the primary focus of the Nelson Arts Festival, held every year in mid-September. You can tour artists' studios, watch some of the many performing arts events, enjoy the mask parade, comedy sketches, concerts, street theatre shows and exhibitions.
The Festival of Possibilities explores the mind, body and spirit. It is a friendly festival with a peaceful atmosphere. The longest- established festival of its kind south of Auckland, Possibilities has up to 100 stalls offering massage, tarot reading, colour therapy, free back manipulation, and many others. It's held every year in late February.
Mellow out to jazz bands from throughout the country at the Nelson Jazz Festival. You can hear jazz performed in the main streets around the city centre during the daytime and at various locations in the evenings. Jazz is swinging here annually between Christmas and New Year.
The Sealord Summer Festival offers six weeks of entertainment every December and January, much of it free. Lunchtime entertainment in the city streets, children's events, weekend concerts, evening performances, and night-time outdoor movies are up for your entertainment.
The Taste Nelson festival at the Rutherford Hotel is an annual January showcase for our region's superb selection of food and wine. Get your mouth watering with local wines and beers, fresh seafood and culinary temptations. There's a range of acts from stilt-walkers to bands and dancers.
Nelson School of Music's Winter Music Festival combines local, national and international artists together in a dynamic three-week festival. The festival appeals to a wide range of musical appetites with many musical styles, from country to comedy and jazz to classical.
Check out the rural side of Nelson by visiting one of the popular Agricultural & Pastoral shows. Nelson, Takaka, Motueka, and Murchison have shows every summer.
Chelson Flower and Garden Show is held annually in mid-February at the Richmond Showground. At Chelson you can spend the day browsing through stalls displaying everything to do with gardening.
Neale Park in Nelson is ideally located for kite-flying fun every January, with afternoon sea breezes. The Nelson Kite Festival attracts top flyers who enthral both young and old.
Held every two years, the New Zealand Festival of Chamber Music brings a selection of the finest national and international musicians to Nelson to perform in vineyards, city streets, the Cathedral, and the Nelson School of Music.