Rotorua will light up with arts, crafts, music and performance for Matariki and the annual Colour the Night festival.

Organised by The Arts Village, Colour the Night runs from 5pm to 8pm on July 12 and is an evening of free activities for locals, tourists and families.

The Colour the Night trail includes a pop-up theatre in Eruera St, dance performances at Lakes Performing Arts Company, music at the Monarch Room, fire dancers at the Night Market, storytelling and blackout poetry at Te Aka Mauri and a range of crafts activities at The Arts Village, Children's Art House and Te Runanga Tea Rooms.

Now in its third year, Colour the Night is a way to celebrate midwinter and have fun in some Rotorua spaces that might otherwise go unexplored.

Coinciding for the first year with Matariki (Māori New Year), some of the Colour the Night activities take on a special meaning as they incorporate the story of Pleiades - the cluster of stars that rises in mid-winter.

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Mary-Beth Acres, manager of The Arts Village, said Colour the Night was a magical mid-winter treat and this year boasted its largest number of activities.

"We are thrilled to have so many enthusiastic partners on board this year, and we've got a great line-up of events.

"People are welcome to follow the Colour the Night trail right around the city centre, or just duck in and out of the venues that appeal to them the most.

"Everything on offer is free to see and do, and we are hoping for a record number of visitors."

Acres said they were hoping for clear skies this year.

"We encourage everyone to mark it on their calendars, wrap up warm, and come and celebrate Matariki and the vibrant arts and culture community we have in Rotorua."

Rotorua artist Jill Walker said she would be holding an event as part of the trail, with the theme Move It, Say It, Shout It, Share It: In the Dark in the Park, along with local authors Angie Belcher and Tom Moffatt.

The trio will be doing interactive story reading and telling.

She said they would also be joined by other creative locals who would bring their own special offering of magic to the evening - including visual and sound treats.

It would be held in a surprise location outside so people could experience the beauty and magic of the night, she said.

Walker was looking forward to being able to contribute to the night and working with new people.

"One of my favourite ways of working is bringing people under the trees and stars ... It's an adventure."

Colour the Night is supported by the Rotorua Arts Village Trust, the Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust, Creative Communities Rotorua and the Rotorua Lakes Council.

• For an event programme, go to The Arts Village Facebook page, or get a copy of the brochure from The Arts Village at 1240 Hinemaru St.