Crowd flock and spend up large

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 12:14 15/07/2014
Pete
MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX NZ
TOP SHOW: Pete, an installation by Nelson Marlborough Institute students Scott Sumby and Heena Newport, as part of Light Nelson.

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Weekend arts events which drew thousands to Nelson were a boon for cafes and restaurants, with some reporting 40 per cent increases in business.

More than 40,000 people over two nights flooded into the Queens Gardens and surrounds for Light Nelson, which began with performances in Nelson Cathedral by electronica band Neon.

The event, in its second year, featured 40 illuminated and interactive installations from local and national artists.

Counters at the gates to the Queen's Gardens clocked up 10,000 visitors on Saturday night and 30,000 on Sunday. Several thousand were at the cathedral over the three nights Neon performed.

At the same time 6000 people attended the third annual Art Expo Nelson at Saxton Stadium.

Vic Mac's Brewbar owner Phil Williams said the Trafalgar St bar and restaurant was "extremely busy". Nelsonians had "eaten the kitchen clean" and takings were 40 per cent higher than normal on a Saturday night.

"I don't think anyone expected it to be that big. It was absolutely fantastic, and a great event.

"When people organise these sorts of things it's fantastic for the town. You have to give people a reason to come out."

Cafe Affair co-owner Victoria Harding said Saturday was a big day for them, but the night was "huge". Their takings would have been about 40 per cent up on usual as well.

"A lot of people couldn't get in and people were upset," Harding said.

She said Light Nelson had been a boon for them and others, on top of the recent introduction of free parking in the city. They were now serving diners coming in from Richmond especially for lunch, and who were taking advantage of the free parking.

Harry's co owner Harry Morris said they noticed an influx of people after the Neon performance finished at the Cathedral. The bar and restaurant was closed for a private function until 7.30pm on Saturday, but the crowds hit later in the evening.

"The number of people in town was huge. On Friday night as well - people had intended to go out, and despite the fact Light Nelson was cancelled that night it was still busy in town.

"We got hit with that and thought it was great," Morris said.

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- The Nelson Mail

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