Tauranga's waterfront will transform into a luminescent interactive playground this weekend.

Winter Nights Winter Lights begins tonight, offering a visual delight for families looking for something a bit different to experience these school holidays.

The festival will run for four nights from this evening and will include one of New Zealand's first showings of interactive art installation Sweep, created by Kiwi light designer Alexandra Heaney.

The light installation on the waterfront, near Edgewater Fan, is part of several light features being showcased around the city centre.


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"I think the site the council has given me is really cool. I just think it will really suit the Tauranga light festival - it's quite big and makes a bit of a statement," Heaney said.

Sweep is made up of 100 suspended light rods which change colour and slowly sway.

When viewed from a distance, it provides the illusion of suspended light rods bobbing softly and gracefully from side to side.

Children are encouraged to walk through the installation to experience the large individual lights slowly bobbing around them.

"This is definitely one of my favourites. I love how kids really interact with it and it's quite dynamic."

Sweep was originally commissioned for a Sydney light festival and has also been on show at Smales Farm in Auckland.

Heaney said she was looking forward to sharing the Sweep experience with Tauranga.

"I find light work to be really amazing and the fact you can programme different sequences, it's quite a versatile artwork. I think people will really enjoy it."

A key wall in the area will feature another art installation, created by local artist Sam Emerson who will use it to pay tribute to Tauranga.

Tauranga city events manager Gareth Wallis said feedback from last year's Winter Nights Winter Lights festival had been positive.

"People love that it is taking place in the middle of the school holidays, it offers family-friendly entertainment and it is free."

Wallis said, as with any event, the team wanted residents to feel a sense of pride and ownership.

"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."

The festival will include live entertainment such as Tango performances on The Strand Dance-O-Mat, Fuse Drummer performances, and face painting with glow-in-the-dark paint in a UV zone at Edgewater Fan.

Food trucks will also be on offer.

Winter Nights Winter Lights


A light festival for the whole family


Tauranga's CBD and waterfront area


Tonight, tomorrow, Sunday and Monday nights between 6pm and 10pm


Free, but bring extra money if you want to buy something from the food trucks

What else you need to know: There will be some road closures in the area and Bayhopper buses will extend their operating hours. The road closures and bus timetable can be seen on the Bay of Plenty Regional Council website.