A spring feast of art, gardens and food will be on the menu in Taranaki this year with the Taranaki Garden Festival, the Taranaki Arts Trail, Feastival and RESET 2020 all set to run at the same time.
The Taranaki Garden Festival, which is in its 33rd year, will run from October 30 to November 8.
The three-day Taranaki Arts Trail was to run in June but Covid-19 restrictions caused it to be postponed. Now it is set for the first three days of the Taranaki Garden Festival from October 30 to November 1.
Taranaki Garden Festival manager Tetsu Garnett says with international travel currently off limits, it is a great time for New Zealanders to visit Taranaki in time for the festival.
"This year's festival is about really looking at what Taranaki is good at – and that means showcasing our gardeners, our artists and our region, which is so exciting."
For the past few years, the garden festival has partnered with the Taranaki Sustainable Backyards Trail, and that relationship is continuing.
"Working with both the sustainable and arts trails is about Taranaki organisations working together for the benefit of the whole region."
Tetsu says visitors to the festival will be able to immerse themselves in 40 stunning private and public gardens of all styles and sizes. They can also learn about sustainable practices and growing food, while visiting 35 properties, and can explore studios and galleries to see the work of 85 Taranaki artists.
"The idea is for people to visit a garden, then pop around the corner to see an artist."
Arts Trail co-ordinator Niki Jenkinson says the two events will complement each other.
"It's lovely for visitors to the garden festival to have something additional to see and spend their money on, and everyone is doing regional travel."
There is a huge mix of artworks to discover, including sculpture, ceramics, glass, paintings, printmaking, fibre, photography, woodburning and mixed media. This is the seventh time the arts trail will be held, and information about artists and locations can be found on the flip side of the Taranaki Garden Festival programme. The double-sided booklet, packed with maps and planned events, also contains details and dates for the sustainable gardens.
"You will find homes with productive veggie gardens, fruit orchards, eco-homes, water collection, solar panels and pest management," says Erin Strampel, Taranaki Sustainable Backyards Trail co-ordinator.
"It's showing how everyday people are maximising the spaces they have in the Taranaki region, from urban to rural."
Erin says during alert levels 4 and 3, Taranaki people showed a greater interest in growing their own food, with places like Mitre 10 having a rush on seedlings.
"The community focused on being a bit more resilient in terms of growing food because of the uncertainty of lockdown."
From October 30 to November 15, there are daily events to meet the tastes of visiting and local foodies, as well as special offerings from Taranaki's welcoming hospitality sector.
"Feastival is a culinary celebration around our mountain showcasing our hospitality – the restaurants, bars, cafes, food producers, brewers and distillers – and our region's top-quality produce," says Rachel Church, the festival's founder.
Rachel says Feastival has partnered with TAFT because of the synergy between gardens and fresh seasonal ingredients grown in the region.
To spice up spring even further, TAFT's latest arts festival offering, RESET 2020, runs from November 5 to 15. It will serve up a diverse New Zealand line-up of cabaret, comedy, theatre and music, says TAFT CEO Suzanne Porter.
"It's about Taranaki revitalising itself after lockdown and saying to the rest of New Zealand 'hey, we are open'.
"All these combined events provide a really unique experience for the month of November," Suzanne says.
She says Venture Taranaki has strongly supported the alliance between the garden festival, arts trail and Feastival.
"Taranaki has long had a tradition of amazing contemporary arts and internationally-recognised gardens, as well as a deep expertise in quality food. This year, visitors and residents will have a unique opportunity to experience all that in one signature month," says Justine Gilliland, chief executive of Venture Taranaki.
"Every region in New Zealand is trying to attract visitors to their place, so this fantastic and unique offering that leverages our signature attractions and strengths sets us apart for an experience like no other."