Fine weather and one of the most experienced acts in the New Year's Eve entertainment game are set to make Hawke's Bay's biggest party go off with perhaps a bigger bang than ever tonight.

Among the line-up for the Sound Shell and Marine Parade celebrations in Napier is the Big Bang Band, headed by veteran Wellington muso Rodger Fox, who this year celebrated 40 years in big bands.

He cannot remember the last time he saw in a New Year anywhere other than on stage.

"New Year's Eve starts for us about one o'clock. That's what the band will be looking forward to. Come five past 12, start packing up all the gear, and then we can start," he said yesterday.


It will be his third New Year's Eve show in Napier in the 14 years since the parade celebrations were revived for the millennium - the arrival of the year 2000.

Having previously performed on the Sound Shell stage with fellow New Zealand entertainment and music legends Ray Woolf and Midge Marsden, he and the band with its feature horn section will begin at 8.30pm with the first of three one-hour sets.

More than 20,000 people are expected to flow through the liquor-ban, family celebration zone during the night, when the band will be supported by Palmerston North blues-jazz-pop soloist Erna Ferry.

But the big raps are reserved for star-billing Upper Hutt singer Lisa Tomlins, with possibly her biggest audience in a solo career on which she embarked hesitantly in 2010, when already regarded as possibly New Zealand's hardest-working and most-sought session singer.

Starting a recording career with Trinity Roots in 2002, she has recorded with some of the top Kiwi acts of her generation.

She will feature particularly as the New Year is ushered in, with the traditional ringing of the Veronica Bell by what event organiser Peter Mooney calls "the virgin mayor", Bill Dalton.

In October, he was elected to succeed retiring mayor and previous bellringer Barbara Arnott.

The night will be capped by a fireworks display, which has also become a feature of the keep-it-simple celebrations.

Major sponsors are the Napier City Council and Hawke's Bay Today, and a gold coin collection will be taken, with proceeds to IHC.

A fireworks display is also planned during an 8-11pm programme at the 22-day Fiesta of Lights, at the Tomoana showgrounds, Hastings.