With three days, 20,000 music lovers, two venues, two campgrounds, hours of planning and plenty of world-class acts, Bay Dreams is one of the most complex events to ever hit Nelson. Reporter Kate Russell looks at how Nelson has braced itself for the sold-out event.
Music will be pumping, campgrounds are bursting at the seams, security will be on high alert and the sun be shining at what has been dubbed Nelson’s biggest concert since Tina Turner hit Trafalgar Park in back in 1997.
Bay Dreams is one of the most popular festivals of the Kiwi summer music calendar, with the Mount Maunganui event selling out year after year.
This is the first time it’s been held in the South Island, with promoters bringing some of the biggest names in music to Nelson, from US hip-hop sensation Cardi B and Australian one-woman-band Tash Sultana, to Kiwi legends Katchafire and UK extraordinaire Macky Gee.
As well as the main event today, a pre-party took place last night and an after party is lined up for Saturday.
So, is Nelson ready?
“Yes, we are,” says Nelson city councillor, Tim Skinner, who is also chair of the sports and recreation committee.
“It’s going to be a nervous time, a bit of a test for Nelson, but our staff have been working really hard on this.”
The event hits the region at “peak tourist season” and with 17,500 out of the 20,000 tickets sold outside of Nelson, council has worked closely with promoters Neptune Entertainment to manage the influx of visitors.
Camping was approved for up to 1,400 ticket holders at Rutherford Park and more recently, up to 3,200 at Saxton Field from 3 – 5 January.
The extra camping at Saxton was added due to an “overwhelming” demand for more sites and is also expected to help ease demand on accommodation for regular summer tourists.
Public transport will also be in hot demand, and buses will run to and from Trafalgar Park and the Trafalgar Centre, servicing the festival campgrounds, as well as the Brook and Maitai Valley Holiday Parks, Tahunanui, Stoke and Richmond and will follow the regular bus routes.
The proposed full-day closure of the Wakatu carpark was scrapped by council due to concerned retailers and will now be closed from 5.30pm tonight until 1am Saturday. United Video customers also have access until 9pm tonight.
Paru Paru Rd will also be closed off to the public from 5.30pm tonight until 1am Saturday.
Promoters will be providing security in nearby local streets, as well as in the venues and camp sites, and are also working with local police.
Inspector Paul Borrell, Area Commander from Nelson Bays Police says they will have a visible presence inside and outside the event to ensure that people are able to celebrate and get home safely.
“The Bay Dreams organisers have a responsibility to provide primary and effective security at the event that will be supported by our own police staff.”
He encourages attendees to have a good time and “remember the occasion for the right reasons”.
“We advise everyone to make sure you look after yourselves and each other.”
Tim says it has been his vision to get plenty of top-notch events to Nelson, and 2019 will see a raft of international acts in Nelson, including UB40, Bryan Adams, John Butler Trio, plus Angus and Julia Stone.
“My main concern is that the public haven’t grasped the size of Bay Dreams, but this is what Nelson has been asking for and we hope they embrace it.”
Bay Dreams kicks off today at 11am with the final acts finishing around 10.45pm.