The sun was shining, the tunes were flowing and the crowds were filling The Strand as the National Jazz Festival's downtown carnival kicked off celebrations on the weekend in Tauranga.

With the sparkling waters of Tauranga Moana in the background, The Strand came alive with thousands of jazz lovers from all over grooving to the tunes.

Emily Wright came all the way from New South Wales in Australia to catch the festival and said it really showed how great the Kiwi vibe was.

A budding jazz and blues fan, Wright said she would definitely make it an annual trip and bring her friends along for the day of sweet tunes and good food and drink by the water.


Natalia Lunson and Steve Mills were a part of Alexander Avenue, a crowd favourite at Saturday's event.

Mills said the crowd was massive and had masses of people dancing and grooving along to the tunes.

He said through laughter that two little girls danced throughout their whole set and they were considering hiring them as back-up dancers because of their great moves.

Lunson said it was such a beautiful day for the event and they loved getting up on stage for such an involved audience.

Judea local Karolyn Timarkos said she comes every year as she loves supporting local and international jazz artists.

Timarkos said she doesn't listen to the radio so this was her chance to get her music fix.

The downtown carnival was described by organisers as "Tauranga's biggest day of the year" and a massive party that locals would be crazy to miss.

To add to the fun, festival-goers were encouraged to come dressed up in retro and vintage costumes, that were paraded down Willow St on Saturday morning in the New Orleans-style vintage parade.


Matapihi local Lilybeth Melmont said she came down first thing to catch the vintage parade and even though she was heavily pregnant with twins, she jumped on her bike to experience all aspects of the booming festival.

Festival general manager Mandy Ryan told the Bay of Plenty Times the carnival was busy from the opening at noon.

She estimated 10,000 people attended on Saturday.

The parade which saw 35 vintage cars cruise through the CBD was followed by a band and swing dancers, and the events even drew members of the public dressed up to the nines in vintage threads join in on the fun, she said.

"What brought you down to the Jazz Festival today?"

"It's just a nice day and a good vibe."
Heather Brown, Pāpāmoa, 65

Heather Brown
Heather Brown

"I love jazz and blues music - I believe in supporting good live music."
Ruth Woodbine, 57, Matua

Ruth Woodbine
Ruth Woodbine

"I came down to watch the amazing vintage parade and dancers."
Lilybeth Melmont, 38, Matapihi

Lillybeth Melmoth
Lillybeth Melmoth

"I love the jazz, the beautiful day and I just think it should happen every month."
Louis Ehrler, 55, Pāpāmoa

Louis Ehrler
Louis Ehrler