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Akaroa FrenchFest 2019

Media Release

Akaroa FrenchFest 2019

When someone mentions the name ‘Akaroa’ it immediately brings to mind a small French flavoured town by the sea, and for good reason. Rich in French history, street names signposted as ‘Rue’, and French flags scattered throughout the village, the reminders of the original European settlers to the area have not been lost.

Akaroa is by all accounts now a traditional ‘New Zealand’ town, but its past is anything but with French history dating back to the early 1800s. It is for this reason that this Gallic history is celebrated biennially at the Akaroa FrenchFest.

To be held over the weekend of 11-13 October 2019, FrenchFest kicks off with the Friday night street party. The waterfront of Beach Road is closed to vehicles, allowing people to enjoy a night of entertainment while spilling out onto the road, or from within the restaurants and bars.

Saturday morning main beach in Akaroa plays host to one of the most important historical parts of the FrenchFest, the re-enactment of The Landing. Following on from the acclaimed success of The Landing 2017, Akaroa Community Arts Council once again is working in partnership with Akaroa Heritage Festival Society to produce The Landing 2019 at FrenchFest. Telling the history and stories of the many and varied intrepid souls who travelled far and wide to make Banks Peninsula their home, The Landing is a lively, fun, historical re-enactment that leads up to the arrival in 1840 of The Comte de Paris, bringing 59 French and German settlers to Akaroa.

Stories are told of these first encounters; of local iwi, the whalers, trading sailors and the first farmers, who were just set up in Akaroa.

The groups of characters - played by local community members, wherever possible playing their own ancestors, will all be a part of telling our stories in a lively, historically accurate, fun, immersive and audience inclusive way. Aided by the professional support of the wonderful Michael Hurst, Jennifer Ward-Lealand, Nathan Bonner and The Wellington Sea Shanty Society.

From there a parade moves the celebrations down Rue Lavaud, entering Jubilee Park for the ‘Le Jour du Marché’. Here the magic of the blue, white and red swirls around a full day of market stalls, traditional French games, wine, food, education, entertainment, Waiters Races, a Cock Crowing competition and much more.

Saturday night plays host to a ticketed cabaret evening for the adults in the large marquee, with The Entertainment Company dancers-presenting Le Can Can, The Wellington Sea Shanty Society, Nicola Són, the most Brazilian of the French bands!, Jason Kerrison, Corner Sounds, Circotica, Danger Doll (Bonita)and MC MulletMan.

On Sunday at FrenchFest a Circotica driven workshop and circus performance will take place in the main marquee.

“Akaroa is very proud of its European and Maori heritage, and the celebration of FrenchFest is one way of paying homage to it.” Margaret Moir, Chairman of the Akaroa Heritage Festival Society says. “The connection with the local tangata whenua who were here to welcome the settlers is very important too, and we are thrilled to have them as part of the events”.

FrenchFest is a mainly free family orientated event being held 11-13 October 2019. This unique event celebrates the unity of European and Maori cultures in a historic township like no other, and continues to develop an ever growing national and international following. It’s the perfect excuse to spend the weekend in Akaroa, enjoying the culture, food, wine and hospitality.


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