Happiest of new year greetings to you all! Here's to more adventures with you in what is shaping up to be a pretty exciting 2019.

The summer spirit is alive and well here in Whanganui. It truly is amazing what a difference some sunshine makes to our mood, especially as many people head back to work and regular commitments after a break over the festive season. Our small town with a big heart is positively buzzing with things to do. With Opera Week, Vintage Weekend and the Summer Programme, among others, our town spirit is alive and well. Having worked in this community for more than 15 years running events and projects I know how much work it takes to get a good idea up and atom. Congratulations to all the people behind the scenes, and out front, who contribute so much time to putting these events on for our benefit and enjoyment. It adds to the vibrancy of our place, and visitors love the atmosphere.

The Women's Network is jumping on the bandwagon and bringing you some festival fun. There's a little something for everyone in our forthcoming La Fiesta festival programme beginning on February 14 and running through to March 10. This year marks its 10th birthday and our team is pretty excited about that. If you haven't yet heard of it, or had the chance to get involved we reckon it's the coolest little festival in the country showcasing women. I have done some snooping around the internet and reckon it is the only one of its kind in Aotearoa New Zealand, and that's something we can all feel proud of.

La Fiesta is an opportunity to bring our community together, and with the support of businesses, creative and cultural groups, entrepreneurs, organisations, service clubs, sports groups and sponsors it means a host of opportunities to activate and inspire people to join in the festivities. As happens every year, there's a bunch of folk who've put their hands up to run the activities and events that make up the festival. With everything from art exhibitions, free legal clinics, cooking demonstrations, documentary screenings and a bunch of other antics to look forward to, there really is something for everyone. We love that some of our regular contributors have returned, including another exciting instalment of Frocks On Bikes, and the launch of Whanganui's inaugural Pride Week.


Not only are we celebrating women and life in Whanganui, we'll have some very special guests joining us from out of town too. Look out for some psychedelic music with a performance from Wellington's Earth Tongue, the return of Michele A'Court, who headlined our festival in 2016 with a sell-out show, Wellington actor Kate JasonSmith brings her dynamic one-woman show about her mother — a celebrated war hero — in I'll Tell You this for Nothing: My Mother the War Hero, and a special International Women's Day musical feature from Taranaki-based darlings and festival favourites Juliet McLean and Renee Millner. There's also an exciting international piano duo with Spina and Benignetti; and a visit from the award-winning Vivienne Plumb, a Wellington-based fiction writer and playwright.

Festival programmes and posters will be making their way about town in the next week and can be found in all sorts of amazing, interesting and regular places. For those of you unable to find one lurking somewhere, the programme will be listed in full on our La Fiesta NZ and Women's Network Whanganui Facebook pages, and also via the official festival website: lafiestanz.com Look out for more features here in the Midweek or email: womnet.whanganui@gmail.com and we'll happily email you a copy of the festival guide. Stay safe out there in the summer sunshine, and for those of you still holidaying and travelling, keep safe on the roads too!