They came, they watched, they ate - and the rain didn't drive them away.

Numbers at the Whanganui Festival of Cultures in Majestic Square on October 19 were even greater than the estimated 6000 last year, Mainstreet event organiser Kelly Scarrow said.

At times she was looking at "a sea of umbrellas and jackets".

"I just couldn't get over the crowds. People got a little bit wet but there were no complaints at all," Scarrow said.

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People came and went and watched a variety of cultural events, starting with kapa haka from Te Taikura o Te Awa Tupua and continuing to mariachi, Japanese drumming, Kiwi duo Aro, bellydance and Indian and Pasifika dance and song.

The IPU drummers were again a lead act - high energy and full of drama. Aro's music was more laidback, with beautiful harmonies and waiata Māori. Parents and grandparents crowded toward the stage to watch tots from Born and Raised Pasifika perform their mash-up of Pacific cultures.

 Despite periods of rain the Whanganui Festival of Cultures filled Majestic Square. Photo / Lewis Gardner
Despite periods of rain the Whanganui Festival of Cultures filled Majestic Square. Photo / Lewis Gardner

"They are a founding group of the festival. It's a real treat to go and watch your kids perform," Scarrow said.

Whanganui's Te Taikura o Te Awa Tupua begin the festival programme. Photo / Lewis Gardner
Whanganui's Te Taikura o Te Awa Tupua begin the festival programme. Photo / Lewis Gardner

This year there were 27 food stalls, with food ranging from Ukranian sweets to whitebait fritters and South African braai. The South African stall was one of those in the upper part of the square.

"They're always very happy, and it's a show watching them cook."

Lots of the food was in small portions, which was a bonus.

"It provided an opportunity to kind of graze your way around," Scarrow said.

About half the stallholders sold out, with one running out of food by 1pm.

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The festival is organised by a committee of volunteers, who contracted Mainstreet to manage it. It aims to be zero waste and bigger, better and bolder in 2020 - its tenth year.

The IPU Japanese Drummers shake the stage. Photo / Lewis Gardner
The IPU Japanese Drummers shake the stage. Photo / Lewis Gardner

It brings vibrancy to the town centre, and also gives people a chance to chat to strangers of other cultures, Scarrow said.

It's not over yet - the Tamariki Kapa Haka event postponed on October 18 will be held sometime in the next three weeks.