Cuba Street Carnival

Another
wild wacky Wellington weekend – this time it was the Cuba Street Carnival on Saturday,
a regular two-yearly event (it takes that long to recover from the last one) which
fills up the centre of the city. Fortunately the torrential rain we had on Friday
stopped, and Saturday dawned bright and clear, if rather windy. The carnival mainly
takes place in Cuba Street (the hippy centre of Wellington) and Courtenay Place
(the main location for bars, restaurants and nightlife). We went down into the city
in the morning to see the stalls and other activities, including street entertainers,
dancing, body painting, six sound-stages and loads of various food stalls. We had
lunch from a stall, followed by a drink in one of the open-air bars near the sound-stage
where Latin music was playing.

 

We
came down a second time later on, when things had livened up a bit, and had another
good look round, fortified by donuts from a stall and ice coffees from one of the
Cuba St cafes; we happened to pass just at the right time to grab a table which
was well situated for people watching.  Later
we had a meal at Sweet Mama’s Kitchen, a Mexican-style restaurant in Courtenay Place,
and afterwards adopted our carnival ‘disguises’ while waiting for the evening parade
to start. It began at 9pm, heralded by fireworks, and was good fun. It is supposed
to be an illuminated procession, but some of the items would have been better in
daylight – they were very colourful, but not too well lit and lost some of their
impact. But the whole effect was good, with bands, floats, and loads of dancers
– including more belly dancers of all sizes and ages than you are ever likely to
see in one place. Some of the special effects were good, including the stilt walker
like a praying mantis, the flying saucer and the giant snapper. The whole thing
took over an hour to go past, and when it was finished there were so many people
crammed together that it was almost impossible to move. We didn’t believe that there
were so many people in the whole of New Zealand, and it was certainly the biggest
crowd we’ve seen since we’ve been here.

 

Sunday
also dawned clear and bright, but it blew a howling gale all day. We went out to
the Miramar peninsula (between the airport and the entrance to Wellington Bay),
and eventually decided to walk up the west coast and back down the east. We managed
to complete the walk, but at times we were afraid the wind was going to pick us
up and dump us in the sea. It’s probably good that we’ve put on weight while we’ve
been here – it’s necessary to stay well anchored to the ground in windy Wellington!

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