Have you ever walked into a place without expecting anything in-particular; to then be completely mind blown, excited and confused all at the same time? If you have no clue what I’m going on about, visit Napier, New Zealand for the Art Deco Festival weekend and prepare to be amazed.
On our way through the North Island of New Zealand, Nicole (one of my travel mates) and I, had planned to visit Napier and the Hawkes Bay region for a wine tour [vlog to be released soon here make sure to subscribe! :)].
When we first attempted to book hostels and transport, we found it odd that nothing was available, anywhere, but shrugged it off – booked an AirBnB and hitched our way into town. Once we arrived we were immediately thrown back into the 1930’s and the ENTIRE TOWN was completely dressed head to toe with 1930’s costumes, hats, sunglasses, flapper costumes, animal fur scarves – the whole shebang.
At first glance we thought ‘wow, we knew this town was full of Art Deco architecture, but people
still dress like this too?!’ After a couple of conversations with local folk we were keyed into the weekend festivities, dove into a few local shops and tried our best to blend in with our travel attire and backpacks (apparently elephant pants were not snazzy in the ’30s).
Anyways! About the Art Deco Festival 2016!
On February 3, 1931 a massive Richter 7.8 earthquake devastated the Hawke’s Bay Region and is still, today, considered ‘the most horrific natural disaster’ in New Zealand. The city was rebuilt – in the then popular Art Deco style – and has been masterfully preserved ever since. Vintage shop signs, building motifs and the “Great Gatsby” style streets all come together to form this picturesque town of current day Napier.
The Art Deco Festival commemorates the earthquake of 1931.
Throughout the weekend there were over 100 different events including but not limited to; a depression dinner, prohibition party, Gatsby picnic, vintage car parade (this year’s was FULL of Rolls Royce), soap box derby and beach side BBQ. People from all over the world had come into Napier to scope out the
madness, dance the Charleston and take a stroll on the promenade.
The festival absolutely blew my mind.The location alongside the beach was stunning and I fell in love with the art deco architecture and good vibes throughout the town. Besides the costumes, the live music and performances ‘took the cake’. A unique stage, The ‘Sound Shell’ was set up outside near the beach and I could have sat outside listening to live oldies tunes while dancing like a tourist for the entire night. There were live bands in the streets, organized dance ensembles, and smiles spread across everyone’s faces.
Looking back this place felt like a dream. Napier, a place I could never fully explain, but with memories so vivid that I will never forget.