The curtain has been raised on the Harcourts Hawke's Bay Arts Festival for 2016.

Invited guests gathered in the heart of the festival at the Kiwi designed Crystal Palace Spiegeltent and the newly established festival garden to celebrate its official opening yesterday.

Michael Mikelangelo & The Black Sea Gentlemen strung their instruments and sang their way through the crowd to officially welcome everyone in to the cultural hub.

Pitsch Leiser said he was thrilled the event was under way and could not wait for people from all over the region to attend.

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"We have created a place where people can come to relax and be transported in to another world."

All the staff and volunteers dressed the part, rocking tails with top hats and feathers.

"We just love to dress up and want to distinguish ourselves. It is a carnival themed event so we are creating a fantasy for all those who attend."

The newly established festival garden was designed by Isaac McCormick and he said they wanted to create a cool and unique vibe.

"We want it to be somewhere where people can just come and hang out whether they are going to a show or not."

The garden featured everything from a coffee, chocolate and book shop to a lively bar and food truck.

The festival bar was built from scratch and was made up of bits from around New Zealand.

"The front of the bar is an old bank counter, the window pelmets are from the Dannevirke Hospital and the chiller came from a flat in Wellington on the roof of my mate's car."

"I wanted to create something more prominent and we decided to use the Bostock apple crates as the fence as we wanted something different not just a straight barrier."

Phil Williams attended the opening last night as one of the 50 patrons.

"We wanted to show our support, as it is a great opportunity for to bring diverse and unique events in to the village. I applaud Pitsch for being able to do it," Mr Williams said.

Oddette Bowyer of Porters Boutique Hotel were one of the main sponsors and she said she just wanted to show her support to the region, as it was such a great event for the village.

The festival features a range of shows from local talent to internationally acclaimed performers over a two week period, finishing on October 16th.

"There is something for everyone with more than 50 different shows of jazz, comedy, theatre for adults and children, contemporary dance, music, cabaret and much more."

Tickets to all shows can be purchased online at http://www.hbaf.co.nz/ or at the iSite in Havelock North, Hastings and Napier.

Tickets for the Napier Municipal Theatre and the Century Theatre can be purchased from the Napier Municipal Theatre box office, Tennyson Street, Napier.

Door sales are also available one hour before the show depending on availability.