Locals and visitors celebrating the New Year in Rotorua will be dancing to several new tunes this festive season with the announcement of a wider Mardi Gras festival to be held on the days leading up to and following New Years Eve.
The three day event follows on from the success of the recent Rotorua Mid-Winter Festival, and is similar to other international events which celebrate several days of festivities over New Year, rather than just one night. The festival will commence at midday on 30 December, 2012, and finish on 1 January, 2013.
The Mardi Gras will include music, a range of different arts and street theatre, night markets, food, fireworks and much more.
The Rotorua District Council’s Community and Major Events Manager, Martin Croft, says the wider Mardi Gras festival is the natural evolution of the original New Years Eve concert on the Village Green.
“The traditional concert has been very successful over the years, but it’s time to take our New Year’s event to a whole new level and make Rotorua’s festivities even more accessible and attractive for locals and visitors alike.”
Mr Croft says there will still be a show at the Village Green on New Years Eve, but it will start and finish earlier to make it more accessible for families and children.
“The concert will start at 6pm and finish approximately 8:30pm with a ground level fireworks and laser display, similar to the very successful fireworks show that was held recently for the mid-winter festival. This earlier time will allow children and families to be part of the New Years Eve festivities and to enjoy some fireworks which they may not have previously been able to do.
“Rotorua is a family destination and the structure of the Mardi Gras event has been developed with children and families in mind, so that they can enjoy the festivities and celebrations along with everyone else.”
Mr Croft says Tutanekai St will be the heart of the three day celebration.
“Street theatre and buskers will provide entertainment throughout the three days, with sections of the street closed off for an evening party which will include food stalls.”
Mr Croft says local talent will be promoted and encouraged.
“The night will finish with the largest fireworks display that Rotorua has ever seen. This will be held further out on Lake Rotorua so that people across the city can see the display from wherever they might be.”
Mr Croft says the key point of difference with this year’s events is that festivities won’t end on New Years Eve.
“New Years Day in Rotorua is definitely going to be the place to be. There will be more street theatre, entertainment and food, and we’re exploring the concept of a “big breakfast” for that morning.
“This year, New Years in Rotorua will be about much more than just one night. There will still be music and entertainment, but we are focused on ensuring we provide something for everyone, for a longer period of time.
“This year’s activities will also involve more of the local community, including businesses, attractions, clubs and organisations.
“There is so much to do and see in Rotorua, and we expect many of our Mardi Gras visitors will make the most of our wider activities and attractions as well. Our goal, working with other agencies and offices like Destination Rotorua, is to ensure that they have a complete Rotorua experience.”
Rotorua Mayor, Kevin Winters, says the extended New Year’s festivities proposed for the city will take the celebrations to a whole new level.
“We are constantly striving to develop and promote large scale and community events that contribute to our local economy, and to our unique position as a sought-after lifestyle destination,” says Mr Winters.
“Key events like these give a significant boost the local economy by attracting visitors who stay and spend, while at the same time offering quality activities for Rotorua residents to experience and enjoy.
“Rotorua is already an exciting and friendly destination but we expect the new-look Mardi Gras will help make it an even more popular family focused-destination over New Year.”
Mr Croft says the Council’s Events and Venues group has consulted extensively with other stakeholders, including local businesses, bars and restaurants, Police and others.
Well-known Rotorua event manager, Monty Morrison, will be involved in managing the Mardi Gras events. He says the new changes will make for an even more exciting time in Rotorua during the height of the Festive season.
Mr Morrison, who has been part of the initial planning team, says that a lot of work has gone into ensuring that the ‘history’ of the event is retained.
“Particularly, the event will continue to be very much a celebration of who we are, at the same time enhancing that spirit of ‘manaakitanga’ for which Rotorua is world famous. I am excited by the opportunities we will have to celebrate together and I look forward to assisting the Council unfold its new vision our city and community.”
Rotorua Police Area Commander, Inspector Bruce Horne, says local Police support the new festival and will be working alongside event organisers in the planning for the event.
“Police have a lot of experience working with Rotorua District Council and other partners on major events such as the Rugby World Cup, Raggamuffin and Lakeside. A significant factor in the success of large events is effective partnerships and everyone in the community working together to get a great result.
“We have a great working relationship with Events and Venues staff and we are looking forward to working with all our community partners on the new festival format," says Inspector Horne.
“We will be making our contribution to ensuring this is a successful and safe event for everyone involved – event organisers, locals, visitors and our Police staff.”
Mr Croft says extensive planning is already well underway for Mardi Gras. He says the team would like to hear from any community groups, organisations or individuals who would be keen to be involved with street theatre, events or stalls.