Tauranga's waterfront is about to go under an illuminating transformation the whole family can enjoy.
Tauranga City Council's Winter Nights Winter Lights festival begins on July 13 and will run until July 16 from 6pm to 10pm.
The event brings work from internationally acclaimed lighting designer Alexandra Heaney to Tauranga, with an interactive light installation named Sweep. There will also be an outdoor projection which will turn a city wall into a temporary art installation. The wall will feature work from Tauranga artist Sam Emerson and pay tribute to the city, its distinctive spaces, places and community.
This will be the third time the council has hosted the mid-winter light show in Tauranga.
City events manager Gareth Wallis says public response to the event has been positive since its inception.
"People love that it is taking place in the middle of the school holidays, it offers family-friendly entertainment and it is free."
Wallis says there was a strong desire from people to extend the length of the event so everyone can make it down to the waterfront and enjoy it. So "we've taken that into account" and Winter Nights Winter Lights now runs for four days.
He says the event has taken five part-time months to organise and he hopes people will visit the waterfront to enjoy and soak in the atmosphere the light festival creates.
"As with any event we deliver and support, we want our residents to feel a sense of pride and ownership," Wallis says.
"This event is made for everyone in our community to enjoy - families, teens, young-at-hearts. Events in the heart of our city provide a great opportunity for our community to come together, enjoy and take pride in our central civic spaces while supporting the local business economy.
"We invite everyone to wander around the waterfront and The Strand under the lights, stop here and there to see the different activations and installations."
The Sweep installation comprises 100 acrylic tubes, standing 4m tall and anchored in a custom-fitted base. Each stem has three sections of light implanted inside.
Heaney says it will be "a pretty special moment" to see Tauranga residents interact with Sweep for the first time.
"I love seeing people wonder as they stare at Sweep. The large scale of it really intrigues children, and I love that.
"If you walk through Sweep you will feel confused and get a sense of intimidation as the large individual lights move ominously above and around you."
Other features of the event include a Tango display on the Dance-O-mat on The Strand on Friday and Saturday nights from 7pm, free face painting, a UV zone which allows artworks to "come alive" and bucket drummers from Fuse Drumming, expected to inject light and rhythm into Wharf St.
A range of food trucks will also be on offer during the festival.