WHAKATANE is gearing up to host the town’s first Seafood Festival this weekend

Thousands are expected to flock to the Eastern Bay of Plenty for the inaugural festival on Saturday, which is being held at Te Hau Tutua Park at the picturesque Whakatane Heads opposite the Wairaka on the rock statue. Proceeds from the day will go to Whakatane Coastguard.

Gates open at midday and the event finishes at 7pm after a performance by Christchurch-born artist Theia. The singer and songwriter, who was nominated for three awards at the 2017 Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards, is one of the country’s most exciting pop acts, with a number of hits to her name, including Roam, Treat You and her latest single, Candy.

Theia is looking forward to performing her first show in the summer hot spot of Whakatane.

“It is such a beautiful town, with so many friendly and welcoming locals. I have visited a number of times but I’ve never had the chance to perform there. And the setting down at The Heads, right on the water, is just magical. I can’t wait.”

Other acts set to play at the festival include Tasman Az and local Eastern Bay talent Jinan Dodd, Made Alive, Jade Pritchard, Shelley Akuhata and Stixz n Stonez, and Stellah.

The Whakatane Seafood Festival will feature some of the most popular pop-up food vendors and established culinary names in the country, with punters able to choose from a tasty selection of the best seafood New Zealand has to offer, with much of it caught fresh right in the Eastern Bay.

On the menu will be a delicacies such as paua, kina, crayfish, mussels, oysters, scallops, a variety of fresh fish, as well as non-seafood dishes.

There will also be an appearance and cooking demonstration from Whakatane very own Pat Salmon from the hit TV series My Kitchen Rules.

Office Bar and Grill will be providing beer and wine, with local company Mata Brewery also on site with their selection of craft beers and cider.

The festival is open to all ages, with a special Kids Zone hosting a number of fun and exciting activities, including face painting, a super slide and bouncy castles.

There’s also lots of fun for the adults, with competitions for fish filleting, sponsored by Moana New Zealand, Open Ocean Whakatohea mussel shelling and for those keen on fancy dress, a prize for best dressed.

For more information and tickets, which are $21, see whakataneseafoodfestival.nz/