In a new twist on a beloved event, guests will dine under the stars as they celebrate Hawke's Bay's excellence in viticulture tomorrow night.

Teams have been working hard over the weekend to prepare for the Hawke's Bay A&P Bayleys Wine Awards- the country's oldest regional wine awards competition.

The winning wine entries - assessed by a panel of 10 judges - will be announced at a spectacular awards dinner held tomorrow night at the Hawke's Bay showgrounds.

Nestled in the showgrounds' Waikoko Gardens, guests will wine and dine in a spectacular silk lined marquee, while gazing into the night sky through the marquee's clear PVC roof.


It has been a team effort to get to this stage - with people from the A&P Society, Mardigras Event Hire, and Image Group NZ bustling around the showgrounds to create the venue "from the ground up".

In its 16th year, A&P Society business development manager Hillary Riches said they were looking for something a bit different with this year's awards.

"It needs to have bit of wow," she said. "It's a big cost to bring in these things, it is huge having this marquee here. It's not just another building, it's a unique space."

Nestled in the showgrounds, Ms Riches said the idea was that guests would feel as though they were dining outside.

They had chosen not to install flooring so that as well as adding to this feel, the grass underfoot would ensure the awards were "not just another event".

Mardigras director Greg Gilmour said the marquee, which was used for the first Hobbit movie premiere, and brought up from Wellington, was unlike anything available in Hawke's Bay.

"I saw some images of it and I thought it would be a good idea," he said. "It's about keeping it fresh."

After managing to keep the marquee a secret, its frames and clear roof were erected last week, with all hands on deck from yesterday until Tuesday's event.

Mardigras staff spent yesterday afternoon setting up adjoining kitchen, and entrance marquees, while a team from Palmerston North's Image Group NZ rigged the venue for sound and lighting.

Mr Gilmour's team will then install the finishing touches including tables, a stage, and creative decorations - from greenery, to lanterns made from old wine barrels.

A lot of people have offered their help to set up one of the region's biggest locally owned and event managed events.

As well as the 20 people associated in setting up the event "from start to finish", spouses, families, and friends have also lent a helping hand.

"It's like a family," Mr Gilmour said.

Although constructing the venue from the ground up was a bit of a challenge, "we love it, the boys look forward to this event every year".