Students from Victory Primary School during last year’s Masked Parade in Nelson. The parade will see hundreds of local students, performers and groups take to the streets this Friday night. Photo: Andrew Board.

Masked Parade set to take over city streets


Nelson’s biggest street party – and one of the Southern Hemisphere’s largest walking parades – is just days away and organisers say it will be as big as ever.
Thousands of students, groups and performers will take to the street for the annual Masked Parade on Friday night, with the theme of “adventurous journeys”.

That will be followed by the Carnivale, which sees live music, food and entertainment take over upper Trafalgar St and the CBD.
Both of the events are free and part of the Nelson Arts Festival which kicked off last Friday night to sell out shows says director Sophie Kelly.

The action starts at 5.30pm when the Masked Parade starts from Montgomery Square and heads onto Bridge St, Trafalgar St, Hardy St, Morrison St, Selwyn Pl and Church Lane.

Spectator viewing along any of those streets is excellent with the biggest crowds along upper Trafalgar St.
Sophie says the parade is the pinnacle of the festival and already they’ve received a huge number of entries.

“We’re really pleased actually. There are already well over 3000 entries and many more community groups and performers are participating too, so we’re thrilled.”
She says the level of participation from the community as a whole is phenomenal with schools incorporating the mask making into their curriculums, sometimes preparing months in advance.

“I think overall there is this huge sense of pride from the community in seeing that mass amount of people coming together and celebrating creatively, it’s really become a big part of this community, with the vibrancy it brings.”

Because the event has been going for 19 years, Sophie says they are starting to see people who have been in the parade themselves as kids, now bringing their own children along.

“It’s this lovely cycle, It’s quite firmly ingrained in our community.”
After the fun of the parade is finished central Nelson turns into party central.

The More FM Carnival and Sonic Live Zone will see the bands play on the main stage in front of the Cathedral including Irrepressible Eggs featuring players from Fat Freddy’s Drop, The Phoenix Foundation, and Twinset.
There will also be street performances, food stalls, a ferris wheel and more.

“The carnival element is about bringing people of all ages to celebrate and party together in a safe and fun environment. It’s hard to think of any other event that does that on that scale.”
The carnivale finishes at 11pm.