After much anticipation, Tauranga Arts Festival is here. Vibe, Indulge, Bay of Plenty Times and Bay News have run many arts previews and stories in the lead-up to its opening, but if you need a reminder of the vast range of performances. Check out taurangafestival.co.nz and tickets are available via www.ticketek.co.nz

It begins! Tauranga Arts Festival is finally here and the Tardis-like travelling theatrical venue on the Tauranga waterfront is ready to welcome hundreds of people through its doors from tonight as the 10-day Tauranga Arts Festival begins.

Now partly owned by the festival's trust board, the venue is known here as the Carrus Crystal Palace in honour of Paul and Cheryl Adams who last year donated the trust's one-fifth share of the purchase price.

The couple are founders of the Carrus Group and donated through their Bethlehem Charitable Trust.

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With the demolition of the council building impacting its usual site in Masonic Park, the palace is this year near the Edgewater Fan on The Strand.

Festival director Jo Bond, also the deputy chairwoman of the trust that owns the Palace, says the venue has been in such demand this year it hasn't been back to home base in Wellington since February.

"We've trained a new team of three supervisors who travel with the Palace," Jo says. "It makes the whole building and running of the venue go very smoothly."

Among the reasons the five New Zealand festivals were keen to secure the Palace is its flexibility - in Tauranga alone it is hosting 26 events ranging from music and theatre to cabaret and speakers. Bond laughingly likens the venue to Dr Who's Tardis which, famously, is bigger on the inside. In this case, however, it's the luxurious interior that stops people in their tracks.

"It's pretty plain on the outside," Jo says. "It looks like what it is - a tent. But when you go through those doors ... it's lovely watching the expressions."

As well as banquette seating around the curving walls, there are stained-glass windows, sand-blasted mirrors, a chandelier, bar and everywhere detailing that signals that although the inspiration may come from the European tradition of travelling spiegeltents (mirror tents), this version belongs to Aotearoa New Zealand.

"I think the walls hold the spirit of everyone who has performed in there," Bond says. "It's imbued with all the good times. You can't walk in and not feel the spirit of the Palace - and we're looking forward to creating some great new memories over the next 10 days."