Monday 18 February 2013

Napier, Art Deco Capital of the World

One of the reasons for visiting Napier, other than catching up with family, was to attend the 25th annual Napier Art Deco Weekend. Napier celebrates its iconic Art Deco style with a weekend of festivities and fun which now attracts tens of thousands of people from around the world. Over 65% of visitors & locals dress in the Art Deco style of the 1930s. Boas, braces & boaters are de rigueur, in fact if you're not dressed up you feel very much out of place. There are over 200 different events that you can attend during the week leading up to and including the weekend, a lot of them are free; it's one big street party.
Strolling the Promenade
"Far from the world's great population centres and from the European and American cities where 20th Century design evolved lays a small city that is unique. Napier, was rebuilt in the early 1930s following a massive Richter 7.8 Earthquake. Subsequent fires destroyed most of its commercial heart. By the end of the decade, Napier was the newest city on the globe.

Nowhere else can you see such a variety of buildings in the styles of the 1930s - Stripped Classical, Spanish Mission, and above all Art Deco, the style of the 20th Century - in such a concentrated area. Napier's Art Deco is unique, with Maori motifs and the buildings of Louis Hay, admirer of the great Frank Lloyd Wright.

Enhanced by palms and the angular Norfolk Island pines which are its trademark, and surrounded by fertile fruit and grape growing plains, dramatic hills and the shores of the South Pacific, beautiful Napier is the centre of the Hawke's Bay region. In Napier, you can enjoy the legacy of its brave rebuilding and savour the spirit of the optimistic Art Deco era."

One of the main events to start the weekend is the Automobilia Vintage Car Parade, this year led by a stunning display of Bentleys from around the world. Over 300 fabulous vehicles all polished until they shined with most of the drivers & passengers in costume from the era wound their way up Napier's Emerson Street which was lined five deep with people.

After the cars came the motorbikes & cycles.
The parade finished on Marine Parade at the Soundshell where the vehicles were lined up for inspection, what an incredible sight it was.

If you'd like to view more of the vintage cars click on the link below to see my full Flickr set;

Art Deco Vintage Car Parade

David & I headed to town on Saturday evening to watch the street dancing and the catch the entertainment at the Sound Shell. We arrived at Memorial Square just in time to see the "guests' arrive for their Depression Dinner at "Tin Town", they had walked the length of the main street after visiting the "soup kitchen" set up on Marine Parade. Dressed in rags & hand-me-downs, rattling tin cans, some even begging, they played their parts really well.

Lined up for the Depression Dinner
Sunday morning I headed out early, there were two events I wanted to photograph; the Soap Box Derby & the Gatsby Picnic. Both are very popular events and it was great to see fathers helping their sons & daughters prepare their trolleys. This was serious business, they were all walking the course & talking tactics.

The Gatsby Picnic is one of the most popular events of the whole weekend. The long lawns, both top & bottom that stretch along Marine Parade from the Sound Shell to the Floral Clock are a sea of colourful canvas, parasols, sun umbrellas & gazebos. Families & friends, young & old dress up in 1930s style, elegant & stylish, they bring their best china, furniture & knick-knacks from the Art Deco era, set it all up and have a picnic lunch or high tea. There are many fabulous displays and some people go to a whole heap of trouble to have everything looking just right. It's a visual treat wandering amongst the parties going on.

Families, couples and teens walked the promenade along the beach front, slowing to have their photos taken, catching up with friends or checking out other gazebos.

It was another stunning summers day, children played on the pebble beach over looking Cape Kidnappers, a few sat in the shade of their parasols watching the boats & yachts race off shore.

In the shade of the Veronica Sun Bay, people watched the navy band play and couples dance.

And as the hot afternoon wore on eyes turned skyward to watch "Those Magnificent Men"; flying displays by  RNZAF Red Checkers, the Warbirds Display Team & others.

We love you too Napier!
It was another fantastic Art Deco Weekend & it just seems to get better & better with each year.  And even though I left my home town 20 plus years ago I'm still very proud to call Napier home.

If you would like to see more of the Art Deco Weekend click on the links below;

Art Deco; Out & About Saturday

Art Deco; Sunday- Gatsby Picnic & Soap Box Derby

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