During the World Cup, New Zealand is going to get 85,000 visitors from overseas.Briony Ellis, Festival directorThe Bay of Plenty is set to celebrate the Rugby World Cup with a six-week festival designed to showcase the region's characteristics and cultural identity to thousands of locals and visitors to the region.
The REAL Tauranga Festival will be held in downtown Tauranga from September 9 to October 23 and will be a celebration of Tauranga and the greater Bay of Plenty region for the duration of the Rugby World Cup.
The festival will showcase a range of events, performances, music, culture, food, sport, children's' activities, community engagement activities, charity events, fashion, art and more, and will involve people from the Bay of Plenty and beyond.
Director of REAL New Zealand Festival, Briony Ellis, said even though Tauranga missed out on hosting a Rugby World Cup game, the region still had plenty to offer guests.
"We're going the length and breadth of New Zealand to showcase who we are as New Zealanders as well as our culture and everything else about New Zealand," she said.
"We're particularly encouraging the non-match centres to get involved because during the World Cup New Zealand is going to get 85,000 visitors from overseas.
"There's games in Hamilton and these visitors can just pop over the hill and see what's happening here in Tauranga," she said.
"It's about engaging visitors between matches because people are coming very long distances and this is a way of showing them what we have to offer while celebrating the Rugby World Cup ourselves.
"It's about creating memorable experiences for our visitors," she said.
The six-week festival will be divided into weekly themes, including a cultural week, boys week, ladies week, with specialised activities for each gender. Held on the Strand, there will be four key zones where people can celebrate.
Zone A is an entertainment area, including a stage and concert area, where international and local performers can take to the stage. Zone B is a bar and restaurant area and the street will be closed to traffic while big screens play live action. Zone C is a family zone and will provide activities for children, including storytelling, local mythology and school performances, farmers markets and more.
Zone D is an interactive area that will feature an exhibition area promoting Maori culture, including Maori carving, kapa haka, waka haurua, sports demonstrations, fire service demonstrations and food stalls.
Mrs Ellis said there were more than a thousand separate events included in the festival, which is being held in major centres across New Zealand during September and October.
Mrs Ellis said the point of the festival was to "showcase our country in every aspect, including rugby", raising the region's profile domestically, nationally and internationally and helping generate an economic benefit for New Zealand.