World Buskers Festival back on track after rainy year video

JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Stuff.co.nz

Busker Zaktakular performs at the Arts Centre during the World Buskers Festival in Christchurch.

World Buskers Festival organisers are hopeful of pulling in 300,000 visitors over its 10-day run after heavy rain and winds hit attendance last year, the event's director says.

Festival director Melissa Haberfield said about 70,000 people had attended daytime street shows over the first six days of this year's festival, but comparative figures for previous years were not immediately available.

The festival opened on January 19 and will come to a close on Sunday.

Kiwi street performer ZakTacular is one of dozens of buskers to return to the north quad of the Christchurch Arts Centre ...
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/FAIRFAX NZ

Kiwi street performer ZakTacular is one of dozens of buskers to return to the north quad of the Christchurch Arts Centre for the first time in six years.

Haberfield said the festival was on track to pull in a total of 300,000 visitors over daytime and evening shows, which was what the festival usually attracted when not disrupted by poor weather.

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"Our numbers during the day have been a significant increase on previous years, particularly on Monday and Tuesday," she said.

"If we have a weekend of good weather, which is what it is looking like, I am sure we will have a weekend of packed houses."

The weather in Christchurch is set to be warm and dry on Saturday and Sunday, according to MetService.

Haberfield said heavy rain on Sunday closed the four daytime busker pitches in the north quad and Market Square in the Arts Centre, the Botanic Gardens, and the Christchurch Art Gallery forecourt. The busker schedule for Market Square was transferred indoors to the nearby Christ's College assembly hall during the one day of poor weather.

It rained for five days of the January 2016 festival's 10-day run, with high winds felling trees and closing the Hagley Park cluster of temporary venues and daytime busker pitches. The number of visitors to the festival fell to 150,000.

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The fall in visitors meant the festival lost $115,000 last year. The loss was covered by the festival trust's cash reserve, which stood at $121,000 in June 2015.

The festival moved to a hub of temporary venues in Hagley Park after the 2011 earthquakes, but is returning to its former venues. Buskers are again performing only on the street, instead of special pitches in the park, for the first time since the quakes.

This year marks the first time the festival has been held in the north quad of the Christchurch Arts Centre since the earthquakes.

Haberfield said the most popular evening act had been British ventriloquist Nina Conti. The 10-night run of shows sold out by Friday last week. Another show was added on Saturday, which sold out within 48 hours.

 - Stuff

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