Department of Conservation staff members who will be participating in the masked parade this Friday. They are, from left, KJ Cronin, Winnie Luthje and Petra Bolitho. Photo: Andrew Board.

Arts festival has arrived

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The Nelson Arts Festival launches into action this week and the fabulous masked parade and carnival will be the highlight for thousands.

The 11 day festival features music, art, drama, comedy and workshops and officially starts on Thursday morning with a blessing at the church steps.

But it’s Friday night that things really kick off with 3000 entrants expected to take part in the masked parade through the city streets, with thousands more spectators to line the streets.

The parade starts at 5.30pm and will wind its way around the inner city from Montgomery Square on to Bridge St, Trafalgar St, Hardy St, Morrison St, Selwyn Pl, Church Ln, across Hardy St to Montgomery Square.

Nelson Arts Festival director Sophie Kelly, says spectators are also encouraged to wear masks and get involved in the spirit of the celebration.

“The iconic masked parade is one of Nelson’s biggest community events of the year, she says.

While local schools make up a large percentage of the entrants, the Department of Conservation is a new entrant this year and DOC’s Jaine Cronin says they’re looking forward to being involved.

“With the Great White Butterfly Eradication project we’ve been working with the community, so this was a way for us to say thanks for their support.”

Straight after the parade is the More FM Carnivale, which is held at the top of Trafalgar St. The Carnivale starts at 6.30pm and will include street entertainment, food stalls and free live bands until 10.30pm.

Sergeant Mike Wardle says extra police will be on duty for the popular event.

“Our observations from the last couple of years suggest that some young teens, and even intermediate-aged school children, are pre-loading before the event, and arriving intoxicated. Our message to parents is to take responsibility for their children, know where they are and who they are with.”

He says there will be zero tolerance for liquor ban breaches and disorderly behaviour, and police will be running breath-testing check-points around the city.

Sophie says her team is working closely with police and other services like St John, HYPE and private security, to ensure people can enjoy themselves in a fun, friendly and safe environment.

“Services supporting the event won’t be shy in turning people away if they’re caught drinking or behaving badly,” she says.

If there is heavy rain, the parade will be held the next day, Saturday, October 18, at 5.30pm and the Carnivale will be cancelled.