Nelson's first Folk Festival is designed to celebrate the diversity of cultures found in Nelson, and its organisers are hoping it will grow in years to come.
The all-day festival includes workshops and dances including those from Nelson Morris and the Scottish, Irish, Filipino, and Bhutanese communities. The programme also includes belly dancing, bagpipes, storytime, Celtic harp, and long- sword demonstrations.
Nelson Morris founders Jan King and Steve Rule came up with the idea for the festival after starting up the Nelson Morris Dancing Group three years ago.
Nelson musician Peter Mayes, who plays with Nelson Morris, then approached dancing groups and worked on a programme.
"The take-up hasn't been as big as it could have been but there will be enough to make it a good day," Mr Mayes says. "I don't expect it to be that big the first year; we're testing the waters.
"It's an opportunity for anybody to come along and get hands-on experiences of musical instruments, improve their playing, learn about the various dances from different countries and actually do them rather than just sit and watch.
"So many folk festivals are just one long concert after another and not much to do and not much teaching. This is very much for people to learn and actually do."
Workshops by day and a ceilidh by night will ensure that anyone interested in different dances from Nelson's varied cultures have a chance to join in.
"It's fun because it doesn't matter if you're not doing it correctly. The idea is to join in and have a good laugh," Jan King says.
"We thought it would be a great idea to have a folk festival in Nelson - there's lots of different cultures, it's arty. I think it will be fun.
"It starts off in a small way and grows, and hopefully next year more people will come along and get into the dancing. We're hoping for good weather and that people will support it."
She said it was also good for developing connections between groups who might not otherwise talk to each other.
"It's a bit like Victory's Race Unity Day, bringing all those different cultures together. It's a festival of the folk, of the people - whoever's around, I think you can interpret it widely. It's not just folk music, it can be all kinds of entertainment."
- The Nelson Folk Festival is on this Saturday from 10am to 11pm with workshops and demonstrations at The Granary, The Jaycee Room and the Railway Station at Founders Heritage Park, and in the town centre. A ceilidh from 7.30pm will feature Jiggery Folkery. Tickets: $10 for two workshops; $10 for the ceilidh, and day pass $25; see nelsonfolkfestival.org.nz for more information, venues and timetable.
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