Napier was "buzzing" for the official launch of the 2016 Hawke's Bay Tremains Art Deco festival yesterday morning.

A large crowd of tourists and enthusiasts watched the arrival of a traditional waka into Napier's Ahuriri harbour, signalling the start of festivities.

Dignitaries sailed in on the Te Matau a Maui waka, with Art Deco Trust general manager Sally Jackson and Napier mayor Bill Dalton among those on board.

Ms Jackson said the arrival of the waka and powhiri, with members of local iwi, the Art Deco Trust, and Napier City Council, had been "quite special moments".

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The region is starting to swell for the annual event which attracts about 40,000 people for more than 200 events.

"The amount of people already arriving, traditionally people come on Thursday, but the whole town is buzzing, there were so many people dressed up."

The crowds will only grow as a large contingent of international media will also be in Hawke's Bay this weekend to cover the Art Deco festivities, she said.

Ms Jackson said the cruise ship Pacific Pearl was arriving into Napier Port on Saturday just for the event, with 2000 passengers and crew on board.

This includes 10 media representatives from the cruising industry.

She said it just showed the festival was becoming a popular event on the international calendar which was amazing.

Ms Jackson said all the day's events had gone really well, and it had been very special seeing sponsors Tremains and Gemco take their costumed staff out to celebrate the events they had invested in.

Participants were entertained with classic sheepskin-tanning tours and day-long events Paint the Poster and Deco Selfie.

The day finished with two Fabulous Flicks showings.

Ms Jackson said it had been a busy day, but she was ready to do it all again tomorrow.

Mr Dalton said it was such an important way to showcase Hawke's Bay to the world.