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Light Nelson exceeds all expectations

Baa by Nelson artist Fleur Stewart, photo Dan Allen

Light Nelson exceeded all expectations drawing over 40,000 people over two nights to the Queens Gardens and surrounds. The event, with over 40 installations from local and national artists, is in its second year, and organisers were hoping they’d top last year’s crowd of 16,000.

Light Nelson Trust Chair, Brian Riley, said the huge support from the people of Nelson would see the event’s ten-year plan being fast tracked.

“We intend to create a promenade along the Maitai and extend the installations right into the city,” he said. “With the huge crowd we had last night we really need to make this happen soon – it gives us more of an attraction to draw visitors to Nelson and will ensure that people have a quality experience and can take their time and get a good view of the works that represent so much effort from our artists. The support we had over the weekend gives us a strong case to take back to our sponsors to grow Light Nelson to be a major showcase for this region’s innovation and creativity.”

Counters at the gates to the Queen’s Gardens clocked up 10,000 visitors on Saturday night and 30,000 on Sunday. People were queued down Bridge Street past the Suter, and at the peak, those entering the park had to be held back.

“Being rained out on Friday night didn’t help us, but there’s no way we could have expected a crowd that was six times bigger than our busiest night last year,” Riley said. “I was at the gate and talked to people who had come here from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, swayed by the joint marketing venture we did with Tourism Nelson Tasman, the Art Expo and the Winter Music Festival.

The Neon synthesiser band at the Cathedral was also a runaway success, with three extra shows tacked onto the schedule to cater for the crowds that turned out.

“Again people were queued down the Cathedral driveway and we staged one extra show on Saturday night and two on Sunday,” Riley said. “It was very generous of Dean Nick Kirk to let us use the Cathedral, have the bells rung as part of the show and to allow the extra performances.

Riley said a free, accessible art event like Light Nelson could not happen without huge support.

“I want to thank the Nelson City Council, the Canterbury Community Trust, the Nelson Mail and all our other sponsors, my team who have worked hard all year to bring this together, the artists who gave their time and skills to create the installations and the people of Nelson for coming out in the cold to experience something very very special that we have created here in Nelson.”


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