The little town Napier, in the Northern island, celebrates every year in February its most famous festival, where pedestrians can be easily confused and think they got back to “The Big Gatsby” era.
The festival is being celebrated nearly 90 years now, and it’s the Kiwis’ way to commemorate the strongest and deadliest earthquake that ever happened in the Northern part of New Zealand, in 1931. Napier was almost completely destroyed, and its residents make sure the local traditions are still alive today.
All visitors are dressed in their best clothes, inspired by the 1920s, and thousands of antique cars flood the streets – all in top condition, ready to show off. If fashion is less interesting to you, how about joining one of the many street dances or dancing competitions? The bar is pretty high, though, and professional dancers from all over the world are coming there after months of preparations. You can also find different art exhibitions, like old agricultural tools or unicycles, that were carefully preserved and maintained.
In the evenings, you can enjoy a nice meal while listening to live music, or just look at the sky – you can see airplanes from the beginning of the last century doing formation flying and sometimes also fireworks shows. In some places, you can also watch a black-and-white film, or stroll through the old and restored buildings from that era.
The festival is being visited by a few dozens of thousands of people. Just take into consideration the February is summertime in the southern hemisphere, so pack accordingly. The festival is completely free, but being the most popular one in New Zealand and with such a reputation, you’d need to make a hotel reservation as early as possible – or just be extremely lucky.