The REAL Tauranga Festival celebrating the Bay during the Rugby World Cup opened today with a tribute concert presenting the work of The Eagles and Joe Cocker.
The REAL festival runs until October 23 in Tauranga and other parts of New Zealand and will showcase a range of events, performances, music, culture, food, sport, childrens' activities, community engagement activities, charity events, fashion, art and more, and will involve people from the Bay of Plenty and beyond.
It will be divided into two major events - the Multicultural Festival, which will run from September 15-18, and the REAL New Zealand Family Festival that will run from October 13-16.
Held on The Strand, there will be four key zones where people can celebrate the REAL Tauranga Festival. Zone A is a family zone, Zone B is an entertainment area, Zone C is for bars and restaurants and Zone D is an interactive adventure zone.
Internationally renowned Batucada Sound Machine will perform on The Strand this Sunday with vocalist and percussionist James Hughes saying people will be "blown away".
Batucada Sound Machine have performed in Tauranga many times before and Hughes said it was always a place he and the other band members enjoyed visiting.
"We always love playing in Tauranga; last time we played here we were part of the Kiwi Festival Carnival at [Wharepai] Domain and that was awesome," Hughes said.
"We're an energetic bunch, we get a great diversity of people who enjoy our music, young and old, we produce a good range of music that's really easy to dance to. It's latin-inspired but is hyped up with afro-funk, reggae [and] dub beats."
At Sunday's performance Batucada Sound Machine will be supported by The Stevie Ray, Cream & Hendrix Experience. It is an R18 performance - bring ID. Tickets cost $35 and can be purchased from TicketDirect.
Director of the REAL New Zealand Festival, Briony Ellis, said even though Tauranga missed out on hosting a Rugby World Cup game, the region still had plenty to offer guests.
"It's about engaging visitors between matches because people are coming very long distances and this is a way of showing them what we have to offer while celebrating the Rugby World Cup ourselves.
Mrs Ellis said there were more than a thousand separate events included in the festival, which is being held in major centres across New Zealand during September and October.
For more information visit www.realtauranga.co.nz.
An artist's impression of The Strand during the REAL Tauranga Festival: