Ten days of entertainment and inspiration were unveiled last night with the launch of the 2016 Harcourts Hawke's Bay Arts Festival programme.

Following the inaugural festival last year - which featured 49 performances, and the sale of 9000 tickets - the second annual event promised a "bigger, better, and bolder" 12 days of arts and culture.

Held at the Hastings Community Arts Centre last night, more than 200 people had their appetites whet with snippets of the festival - from dance and theatre performances, to visual art events - before its programme was revealed.

From October 4 to 16, Kiwi artists would be joined by those from Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America to entertain, educate, and inspire.


As well as favourite's from last year, the programme included new attractions, like the Festival Garden, and events, including works from Maori, and Pacific perspectives.

In a speech, Hastings District mayor Lawrence Yule said the festival had filled a major gap left by the closure of the Opera House, and before it people had been missing something in the "arts and cultural side of life".

He applauded organisers' ability, as to go from being "out on a limb last year, with no time, no money, and a new concept, to this point is simply outstanding".

Festival director Pitsch Leiser thanked their partners, benefactors, and supporters, offering them the first glimpse of this year's festival.

He said he was excited to present the 2016 programme, which was bigger, and had been more challenging than last year's.

"We're going into more venues, so we have the option to feature different kinds of performances than we did last year," he said.

"The heart of the festival is still [The Famous] Speigeltent in Havelock North ... but we've been able to expand in a way that allows other people from Hawke's Bay to experience it."

As well as the venue in Havelock North's domain, the festival's 55 shows would be spread across venues from Napier's Municipal Theatre, to the Hastings City Art Gallery.

Mr Leiser said he hoped Hawke's Bay residents would take the opportunity to explore something new, and to experience the national and international talent which would be visiting the region.

"They can go on an adventure and [discover] something new to enrich their lives," he said.

Creative Hastings treasurer Cynthia Bowers said she was very excited for the start of the festival, and already had a list of shows she was hoping to see.

The 2015 festival had been well supported, she said, but it was good to see the amount of new people behind this year's event. "There's such a buzz of excitement," she said.