City blooming for Tulip Festival opening

By Cindy McQuade

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The Rotorua Tulip Festival, New Zealand's largest tulip festival, begins tomorrow and runs until October 9. Photo/Stephen Parker
The Rotorua Tulip Festival, New Zealand's largest tulip festival, begins tomorrow and runs until October 9. Photo/Stephen Parker

You would be hard pressed to find a prettier sight than our city at the moment. With more than 100,000 tulips in flower, the inner city is a blooming marvel.

Now's the chance to not only see the beauty, but taste, feel and smell it.

The Rotorua Tulip Festival's opening weekend is laden with activities including the launch of the Farmers' Market and a visit from a popular New Zealand food celebrity.

The festival, which is New Zealand's largest tulip festival, begins tomorrow and runs until October 9. It incorporates 40 events, and 30 of them are free.

TV One Kiwi Living foodie sensation and internationally renowned chef Michael Van de Elzen demonstrates his culinary skills tomorrow night at a special, ticketed event.

He will then mix, mingle and enjoy the flavours and aromas of Rotorua's new Farmers' Market on Sunday.

"I love Rotorua," Mr Van de Elzen enthuses. "It's my favourite place to mountain bike and everyone is so friendly. I'm very excited about seeing all the tulips flowering."

Mr Van de Elzen is judging the winners of the festival's Dutch Apple Cake baking competition and junior baking competition. The new market will be held in the City Focus and is selling a range of produce made, created, baked and bred within this area.

Other activities tomorrow include: Sudima children's cupcake decorating; a guided informative walking tour focusing on the plants and trees in Government Gardens; and a tulip-themed exhibition at the Arts Village. There will also be a demonstration on how to capture the perfect tulip Instagram photo and have-a-go croquet.

The Tulip Festival headquarters are at the Te Runanga Tearooms, and tomorrow's action will incorporate a plant sale (continued on Sunday) and live music from Jono Breakwell between 10am and noon. Hawkes Bay's Dutch Shop will have goodies available to buy.

School holiday festival activities will also kick off, including an activity trail through the museum, and a tulip-themed children's art activity at the Arts Village Market.

Festivalgoers can expect a diverse array of activities on Sunday. As well as the Farmers' Market launch and cake baking competitions, there will be a guided bike tour with a focus on tulip beds; high tea, washed down with a beekeeping talk; and a walking tour of Maori history. Children's activities on offer are the cupcake decorating, the museum activity trail, and a show - Dexter's Amazing African Adventure.

Rotorua Tulip Festival manager Brigitte Nelson said the weekend's events were but a taste of what's to come. Activities have been planned for each day of the festival, and they are deliberately diverse to offer wide appeal.

"We have frocks on bikes, we have bus tours to stunning gardens, we have lots of school holiday activities, and we have high-calibre celebrity guests. In addition to Michael we have Xanthe White, David Trubridge and Jo McCarroll. And we have more. Our city's tulips are starting to come to the party; as of October 1 it will be the public's turn," she said.

The celebrity speakers and bus tours are ticketed events and Ms Nelson urges people to get in smartly to avoid disappointment. The separate bus tours are to Daltons Plantation Gardens and Homestead, and to Plenty Flora and Sandara Gardens.

What: Tulip Fest 2016
When: Tomorrow - October 9
Tickets & details: www.tulipfestrotorua.co.nz

- Rotorua Daily Post

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