Victoria rules

November 17, 2012

Prince Charles has been getting attention further north, but in Oamaru this weekend it’s his great, great (do I need some more greats?) granny who  rules as the town  celebrates its Victorian heritage.

Charles Dickens is the them of this year’s celebrations which began on Wednesday.

Activities and events today include a vintage car swap meet, a street parade, a military black powder camp, high tea at Pen-y-bryn Lodge, Widow Corney’s Workhouse Shindig and Charles Dickens Performs A Christmas Carol.

Tomorrow celebrations conclude with the Victorian fete from 10am.

A day jam-packed with superb entertainment, dozens of stalls showcasing their unique and individual wares, exquisite Victorian costume, competitions to test strength and skill, street performers and children’s entertainment around every corner with food stalls and refreshments to whet every appetite. It has to be experienced to be believed.

Highlights this year will be Beyondsemble, just back from their world tour with their most exciting, energetic and enchanting acoustic music to come out of NZ in recent times. From gypsy to jazz, rocksteady to Celtic, Congo to bluegrass and beyond. Music to move you and make you move. With a strong improvisational edge, Beyondsemble perform an incredible mix of styles sourced from all over the world as well as their own original compositions.

And the incongruous Bikes for Fun. Over seventy bikes and scooters for the young and the young at heart which defy gravity and any thoughts of Victorian staidness! Fabulous fun!

Legend, humour and fiction surround the origins of Wellington perfumery Fragrifert which is coming to Oamaru for the Celebrations. But the fragrances are real and Fragrifert (pronounced frah-gree-fair) will delight visitors with live performances in the Harbour Street theatrette.

Watch out for Fagin and his mischievous band of rascals – they’ll burst into song and instead of picking your pocket, might leave a treat for you! You too could dress up as your favourite Dickens’ character and join in all the fun of the Fair!

The  celebrations started a couple of decades ago by a small group of enthusiasts  who wanted to showcase Oamaru’s Victorian heritage.

They’re now an annual fixture which attracts visitors from around New Zealand and further afield.

You can download a full programme here.

2012 places to go

December 21, 2011

The Chicago Tribune has a list of places to go by month in 2012 .

There among the big events from the Olympics to a champagne cork shoot-off is:


14-18: Oamaru, New Zealand — Oamaru Victorian Heritage Celebrations. Penny Farthing Bicycle Races set the tone for townwide merriment.

There is a lot more to the celebrations than Penny Farthing races. Other activities include the annual swaggers and servants dance, a Victorian garden party, a heritage ball, and the Victorian fete.

Each year more locals and visitors embrace the theme and garb themselves in Victorian clothes and each year the celebrations get better.

At the fete

November 20, 2011

The Queen of Victorian Oamaru with one of her foot soldiers and the Mayor and Mayoress.

Morris dancing.

A day at the races

November 20, 2011

North Otago is celebrating its Victorian Heritage this week.

Most people who work in the historic precinct dress up to the Victorian theme all the time. During heritage celebrations many locals and visitors also don the clothes our earliest European settlers wore.

Yesterday we spent a very enjoyable afternoon at the gala race day.

Boru provided live music:

The Queen’s guard took a break from guarding to chat to visitors:

While the Queen herself took part in, and won, a celebrity race:


We were treated to fine food from Sally Anne of Fat Sally’s and Portside fame, had  lots of laughs and I made an $8 profit from betting.

Today the historic precinct hosts the annual Victorian Fete and World Stone Sawing championships.

We are amused . .

November 19, 2010

. . . we are also entertained and amazed by the talent and energy the North Otago community displays in the District’s annual Victorian heritage celebrations.

The programme  includes live theatre, the national penny farthing championships a servants and swaggers dance for the downstairs  folk,  a ball for those upstairs and the annual fete a feature of which is the world stone sawing championships.

The second annual Steampunk: tomorrow as it used to be exhibition at the Forrester Gallery is an undoubted highlight.

Join us in a journey to a distant place and time. A world styled with brass, copper and leather. A steam-powered world of blimps, balloons and coal smoke darkened skies, a magical, miraculous, mechanical world of cogs, levers, wheels clocks and glass gauges. A world that is full of mad and quirky technology. A place where Jules Verne and Monty Python might meet to share a port wine and smoke a pipe at home together . . .

I had a quick look round the gallery yesterday and will return for the long, lingering visit  required to do justice to the exhibits.

Each year more people get in to the spirit of the celebrations by dressing in Victorian clothes.

If you’re anywhere near North Otago, the celebrations provide a very good reason to visit this weekend.

Victorian Fete

November 22, 2009

Oamaru’s Victorian Heritage celebrations began 19 years ago with a fete in the historic precinct organised by a few volunteers.

It’s grown into the Waitaki District’s biggest annual event run over several days, culminating in the fete which attracts thousands of people. . .

. . . some of whom are in to Morris dancing . . .

. . . others of a more competitive nature come to claim the title in the world stone sawing championships:

(In case you’re wondering why the Oamaru hosts the world championships, it’s the only place which holds them).

Another march for democracy

November 21, 2009

While assorted groups marched for democracy in Auckland, people were marching in Oamaru for a similar cause:

They were part of the street parade in the Victorian Heritage Celebrations.

Waitaki Mayor, Alec Fmailton, Mayoress Heather, the Queen of Victorian Oamaru and celebration committee chair, Sally Hope travelled by horse drawn carriage:

Also on parade, though not necessarily in support of votes for women were foot soldiers of Alf’s Imperial Army:

Emergency services were represented with an ambulance . . .

. . . a fire engine  . . .

. . . and a policeman:

There was steam power . . .

. . . and pedal power:

And if Donna Demente’s car was a few decades ahead of the Victorian era, what it lacked in historical authenticity was more than compensated for by its artistry:

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