Vintage is arguably the new black so organisers are rolling out some old favourites and introducing even more crowd-pleasers for Vintage Weekend Whanganui 2018.

Vintage Weekend will be held over Wellington Anniversary Weekend on January 20-22.

"Whanganui people are now expecting it and are quite excited about it and it's gaining momentum around New Zealand as the 'vintage' word is spreading," marketing co-ordinator Sally Jane Smith said.

"When I visited all the motels and hotels in Whanganui recently they were 80 to 90 per cent full that weekend which is a strong indication that people are booking fast."

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Vintage transport will be a highlight of the 2018 event, Ms Smith said.

Mainline Steam's immaculately restored steam locomotive JB1236 will take passengers on trips from Taupo Quay to Whanganui East and Taupo Quay to Kai Iwi. Air Chathams' Douglas DC-3, built in 1945, will take scenic flights over Whanganui.

"The combination of the steam train, which we don't often get in Whanganui, the DC-3 and PS Waimarie is quite exciting. There will be a vintage bus running between the three so people can park their car and use the bus.

"There'll be plenty to do at the airport because, as well as the DC-3, the Wanganui Aero Club and New Zealand International Commercial Pilot Academy will be open and have displays.

"This year the Vintage Fair will be in the old Farmers home store building in Victoria Ave. Steampunk will have a much bigger presence this year, with people from Whanganui, Taranaki and the region. They'll be setting up in the Vintage Fair area so people can experiment with dressing up and see what steampunk is all about."

Saturday's Rivercity Caboodle street carnival in the central city will include 15 musical acts on stages at the Watt Fountain and Majestic Square. It will be followed by The Bathtub Ball at Frank Bar & Eatery on Saturday night. The event will recreate the atmosphere of an illicit speakeasy of the American prohibition era.

People who prefer to give themselves a big fright on the Saturday night can book for the classic Hitchcock horror movie The Birds which will screen on the outside wall of Element Cafe.

Sunday afternoon sees the most of the action based around the downtown riverbank for the Riverside Shindig.

"The vintage costume event on Sunday is gaining quite a lot of traction - people seem to be really interested in that so we can't wait to see what people wear," Ms Smith said.

"This year we've introduced a Bob Dylan song contest. It's been organised by Bruce Jellyman and Annette Main and is a tribute to Annette's late husband John Blythe who was a huge Dylan fan - and a tribute to Bob Dylan as well. Auditions were held in December and there are five people who will be in the final of the contest on the Sunday afternoon."

Music over the Saturday and Sunday will feature local acts, apart from energetic UK folk duo Old Time Rags who will play both days.

Monday's major event is the Soapbox Derby with carts racing from Queens Park and down Drews Ave.

Spokeswoman Denise Vincent said entries were coming in "thick and fast" and there were always lots of entries on the day.

"We've got people coming from Stratford with superstock carts they've built so there will be six to eight kids in those and we'll put them in their own race," Ms Vincent said.

"There'll be a celebrity wheelie bin race. We had one last year with the small bins but this year we'll have eight 2.5 litre bins so they'll go a lot faster. We know of some businesses that have built two or three carts per business so we're expecting a good turnout."

As well as the major events, there are many other events happening as part of Vintage Weekend. For details, go to www.vintageweekend.co.nz or visit Vintage Weekend Whanganui on Facebook.