The Akaroa French Festival, held biennially, has been postponed for the first time since it began in 1998 due to Covid-19.
This year’s Akaroa French Festival has been postponed due to Covid-19.
The biennial festival, held in the harbour side town of Akaroa, was scheduled to run between October 15 and 17, but would now be postponed to the end of April next year.
The festival celebrates the culture and heritage of New Zealand’s sole French settlement, and attracts thousands of visitors.
It would be the first time since the festival began in 1998 that the event had been postponed.
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Brigid Rennell, president of the Akaroa Heritage Festival Society, which organises the festival, said it was “disheartening to have to postpone”.
“A great deal of work has gone into the festival, and it is a vital boost to our town, our businesses and our region.”
The festival attracted 7000 visitors in 2019 and planning for the 2021 event had been happening since March last year.
Rennell said organisers had expected more than 10,000 visitors and about 100 vendors from across the country this year.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield announce there are 15 new cases of Covid-19 in Auckland.
The organisers all agreed the risks of holding the event this year were “just too high on too many levels”, she said.
The restrictions with the Delta variant of Covid-19 made it difficult to go ahead with the festival, and the district would need to be at alert level 1 to give the “audience the world-class festival they have grown to love”.
Live music, food and wine vendors, and arts and culture stalls had been planned, as well as a parade, live comedy and dance, and a re-enactment of the arrival of French and German passengers in 1840 from the Comte de Paris.
An antiques and collectables fair would have been held on Sunday, along with a circus performance by Cirotica Circus Company to round off the festival.
“We are really lucky to have an amazing volunteer team and fantastic sponsors, and we are incredibly grateful for their continued support at this time,” Rennell said.
The organisers were waiting for confirmation from the headline acts to confirm a date next for autumn.