The restored Watt Fountain lit up the night - and people's faces - at its gala opening on Thursday night.

Mainstreet Whanganui marketing and promotions manager Kelly Scarrow said despite the cold weather and intermittent rain, there was a good turnout for the occasion on the 136th anniversary of the fountain's original installation.

"People were really proud and excited about the new lights on the fountain.

"We had an orator who read a speech done when the fountain was first unveiled which was really special. Descendants of the Watt family travelled from Havelock North and Wellington to be here and they were overwhelmed and incredibly proud."

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Many retailers were open for business and food vendors set up along Victoria Ave.

"Thank you to the community who turned out on the night and all the people who have been so interested in what's happening with the restoration of the fountain," Ms Scarrow said.

The fountain, at the intersection of Victoria Ave and Ridgway St, is a memorial to Whanganui's first mayor, William Hogg Watt.