The Insider’s Insanely Good Guide to The Akarua Arrowtown Autumn Festival
By Georgia Todd – Mum to Milly, 1yrs old and Arrowtown local.
For the kids!
Here at The Queenstown Insider we are all about the kids, so although the Akarua Arrowtown Autumn Festival has something for everyone, we went along with kids and families in mind and discovered loads of fun events perfect for the school holidays and entertaining the little rascals.
Please Note: This is a review of the 2016 Akarua Arrowtown Autumn Festival – the itinerary is likely to change yearly.
DAY 1: Thurs
Day one was a cruisy start to the laid-back vibe that permeates the festival – except for Saturday, Saturday is crazy! But we are still on Thursday….so relax! First up was the ever popular Kids Paint off, this event is best suited to 7-10yr olds and is a great opportunity for kids to get creatively messy. Many were not just painting the paper but pretty autumn leaves that were thick underfoot. Thursday was a great day to get to know Arrowtown before it gets super busy; there is the Scarecrow comp throughout the village and Buskers galore to entertain, with both running throughout the festival.
DAY 2: Friday
Afternoon Delights…The fabulous MulletMan Kids Juggling Workshop….
The town has filled up fast on the second day into the festival and on a balmy Autumn arvo the MulletMan provides hours of fun with juggling balls of all different sizes. He believes that juggling gives kids a fun way to work on their hand and eye coordination and challenges their willingness to ‘get good at something’. The age group that benefits best from this development of skills is the 7-10-year-olds, but plenty of littlies joined in rolling balls, throwing balls and marvelling at the tricks on display. MulletMan has been performing street tricks and workshops for over 20years – his stuff has a fun family vibe, parents and kids alike will find themselves entertained by his shows which are interactive and workshop based. MulletMan says “The only difference between good jugglers and not-so-good jugglers is the time and energy spent getting good at it” teaching kids a valuable but fun and light-hearted lesson about perseverance paying off! MulletMan performs all over N.Z on various festival trials as well as worldwide. What a treat to have him here in Arrowtown!
Day 3: Saturday
The Big One! Markets, Aerial Acrobatics, Chinese Dragon Dance and of course the colourful, spectacular Akarua Autumn Festival Parade!
The day kicked off with a stroll around the crowded marketplace, with all kinds on offer from cool kids clothing boutiques to natural-based home remedies and funky teething ‘mamabeads’ – there was plenty to interest families in the way of goodies for kids and parents. Lots of hand-knitted winter woollies were available of course, as well as funky upcycled and beautifully crafted hand made goods.
Cute baby clothes with style –
• Whoopzee Gifts
• illi-Q Kids
Sweet jewellery – the kind babies love to munch on! –
• Moxie Design
Aromatics and natural beauty/health –
• Sage Cottage
Next up bang on 1:50pm, as people began to line the village’s quaint main street for the parade, an Aerial Dynamic show soared above. Spine-tingling feats were performed and the parade began in earnest, a noisy, colourful, tangled performance of classic cars, steam engines, floats from local children’s groups, stilt walkers and clowns, fairies and the entire cast of Annie marched through the street – everyone was thoroughly entertained! A record number of thousands had shown up for the parade – with the festival being labelled a ‘bumper one’ for 2016. The best community float award was won by Wakatipu Garden Club, with an emphasis on community groups, schools and businesses being a part of the parade.
Following the parade, there was plenty to see as entertainers of all sorts took to the streets to sing, perform daredevil stunts, parade around in old fashioned get-up and blow giant bubbles.
The kids especially loved mixing with the performers who were mostly interactive. The bubble fairy was a hit as were the colourful stilt walkers towering above the crowd. Scarecrows lined the streets and music filled the air.
It had been scheduled to rain but although a tad chilly the sun graced the festival with its presence and the weather cleared up beautifully. There were plenty of delicious food carts with everything from Spanish empanadas, gooey sauce covered waffles, the Arrowtown Scout Group offered up delicious home-made pumpkin soup and Frit’s Weaners served up delicious bratwurst sausages and buns which were hot in demand.
All in all, Saturday was a thoroughly entertaining and fun day for families with kids of all ages, just make sure to bundle up against the mild Autumn weather and be prepared for big crowds – the Akarua Arrowtown Autumn festival is an extremely popular event and Saturday is the day that the festival really shows off!
Sunday –Dogs and ducks, an afternoon at the pub!
Whew! Still recovering from Saturday! Sunday kicked off with the rubber duck race down the famed Arrowtown River. It’s for a great cause with proceeds going to the Arrowtown Rugby Club. Next event which was great for kids and adults alike was the Remarkable Vets Dog Show. Kids were encouraged to take part and have their dogs show off on an obedience course as well as a ‘tricks’ category. Dogs and kids were well behaved throughout! Once the show was over, families dispersed throughout the village to enjoy ongoing live performances on the village green and at the Fork and Tap pub. The Gypsy Pickers entertained for the afternoon and although it was super busy and there was a wait on food, the staff kept up with the pace and the food was delicious! Milly and I had a great arvo catching up with friends and having a dance. A nice end to a full, action packed weekend.
Monday – Lest we Forget
This year the Akarua Autumn Festival finishes off on Anzac Day, commemorating those who fought for their country. An Anzac service was on offer at the kid-friendly time of 10am at the local village hall. Lastly, the Village Scarecrow competition wrapped up on Buckingham Green. A slower paced, lazy holiday end to what was an incredible, full-of-fun, extremely popular and successful Akarua Autumn Festival 2016.