If you are on a New Zealand travel adventure, arrange your schedule to be in Arrowtown, Central Otago, on tbetween April 20 - 29. It's the annual Arrowtown Autumn Festival and it is days of history, fun, music, food and all round good times.
That time in April is when the Central Otago foliage is at its glorious finest. Like any climate which has hard winters, the summer foliage in Central turns to fiery displays of colour in autumn.
Arrowtown, 20km from Queenstown, is at the very heart of that autumnal finery . . . and the good folk of the town celebrate it in down home country style.
Let's put it this way: I am specially arranging my travel affairs to be there again. It's that good.
Proceedings kick off on Friday night, April 20, with an art exhibition at the Lakes District Museum. Given that Central is home to some of NZ's finest artists this will be a good night out even if you "don't know much about art, but know what you like". Entry is a miserable $5 . . . and that includes your first drink. What's more you can have a wander around one of the best small museums in the country. How good is that!!
And, just as an extra sweetener, there's $5500 in prize-money up for grabs.
Saturday is market day, family day and a parade. A village wide market experience with over 120 stalls selling some of the best NZ made products ranging from arts and crafts, to farmers and artisan food. Set amongst the canopy of autumn trees, this vibrant market is full of atmosphere and with live entertainment throughout the day. It's on the village green and admission is a gold coin donation. Priceless!
Jazz bands, international street performers, aerobatic displays - you can even go gold panning to see if you make your fortune. (Don't bet the ranch on it). And that night is the 70s Disco Inferno at the Athenaeum Hall. $30 gets you in, cash bar and a light supper served. Heartland fun at its best.
I've been to this festival before. Take it from me it really is a great day out. For the traveller it's something you'll fondly remember for the rest of your days.
You can get more information and tickets from the Arrowtown Autumn Festival Website.