THE WHISKY night is back by popular demand. East Coast MP Anne Tolley, Whakatane Mayor Tony Bonne and Ian Drysdale are pictured enjoying Sunshine and a Plate’s last grain versus grape evening. Photo supplied

HOSPICE Eastern Bay of Plenty’s fundraising food festival launches to the general public today.

But those interested in attending Air Chathams Sunshine and a Plate events in February are advised to hurry with 10 percent of tickets already allocated thanks to pre-sales to Friends of Hospice, volunteers and sponsors.

“This is a fantastic way for us to start the festival, we know the events are sought after and so we wanted to begin with thanking our biggest supporters and give them the first chance” said fundraising and volunteer services manager Anna Meredith.

”We are really appreciative of the demand in sales over such a short weekend period.”

Hospice is expecting strong ticket sales in the lead up to Christmas with tickets traditionally providing popular presents because they not only provide a fantastic experience but support the community.

The 10-day festival will run from February 21 to March 3 and will include a series of events that have been developed based on historical demand and popularity while keeping every event new and exciting at the same time.

Chief executive Peter Bassett, this year’s line-up, featuring the best of the past along with some new and exciting events, had drawn great feedback so far.

“The ever-popular whisky night is back, along with the scenic flights and a cocktail launch function.

“We are bringing new elements in, with some lower priced events, as well as exclusive meals with very talented chefs, next-level live entertainment and a high end ball which is not to be missed.”

An online auction will run alongside the festival with some high-profile prizes, and some items being sold live at the ball.

All profits support Hospice EBoP to continue providing free end of life care to our local community.

“With a $500,000 annual shortfall we need to raise a lot from a fairly small community, and it really helps to add value where supporters get something back for their generosity,” said Ms Meredith.

“We are so excited to keep bringing the event up to the next level and it’s so rewarding to get feedback from our supporters who love being a part of it and connecting with hospice.”

Limited tickets are available at www.sunshineandaplate.nz or at the Whakatane Hospice Shop at 109 The Strand.