Oamaru is set to party for the next three days as the annual Victorian Heritage Celebrations programme gets into high gear.
As always, the Victorian Precinct remains a centre focus of the festivities, although the celebrations will also spill over into Itchen and Lower Thames streets and other local areas of interest.
Victorian Fete co-ordinator Faye Ormandy said the level of interest and enthusiasm was outstanding.
"I have been answering telephone calls and emails from locals and lots and lots of visitors from all over New Zealand," she said.
"One couple are even coming to Oamaru to attend the celebrations and to have their honeymoon in the town and district. It is a huge celebration and the interest is very, very high."
Events over the next three days, including the Oamaru Mail Street Parade, the 18th Heritage Bicycle Championships and the Network Waitaki Victorian Fete, will all go ahead regardless of the weather.
"Everything is set to proceed and hopefully, the weather will be kind. But rain, hail, snow or shine, the programme proceeds."
Today's programme has a special Charles Dickens' emphasis, reinforcing the overall theme of the 2012 celebrations.
Events will include a lecture by Nigel Costley entitled "Dickens: the modern celebrity", a Dickensian-themed costume competition for adults, with prizes awarded during the Great Photo Opportunity on the steps of the Opera House at 12.15pm; and two functions at Annie Baxter's Tearooms - the first "What the Dickens is Happening at Annies?" at noon and the "Tea Time Special" at 3pm in honour of Little Dorritt.
Today's programme also includes the St Paul's concert with local artists at noon; the Great Photo Opportunity on the steps of the Oamaru Opera House at 12.15pm; the Crombie and Price Victorian Garden Party from 2.30pm; and, a special rugby game at Takaro Park, Old Boys versus Valley, played to 1949 rules.
Tomorrow, a vintage car swap meet at the North Otago Showgrounds from 8am to noon starts the day.
The Oamaru Mail Grand Street Parade starts from Tyne St and winds its way along Itchen St and into Tyne St. New Zealand's foremost heritage cycling event, the 18th Heritage Bicycle Championship, including the ghastly Tyne St Grunter, will start at 11.30am.
New events running tomorrow and Sunday, are the working vintage machinery display, a collection of pre-1910 rural machinery which will reinforce the "back to the roots of North Otago" emphasis of the celebrations, and the Military Black Powder Camp, with horses, bell tents, blacksmiths and black powder rifles, which will be camped between the Precinct and the sea.
Oamaru Freemasons will open the doors at the Historic Masonic Lodge, Wansbeck St tomorrow from 1pm to 4pm and both Clarks Mill and the Totara Estate are open to introduce visitors to life as Victorian workers experienced it.
As always, Sunday's activities on the programme centre around the Network Waitaki Fete.
It will be a day jam-packed with superb entertainment, including international acts, dozens of stalls, exquisite Victorian costumes, competitions to test strength and skill, and food stalls and refreshments to whet every appetite.
The Fete will begin at 10am on Sunday in the Victorian Precinct. Entry is $5, pre-schoolers free and family tickets are $20.
Sunday's programme also includes the Network Waitaki Fete Parade of Victorian Fashion from 1837 to 1901, the Oamaru Steam and Rail trips, which will depart from the Harbourside Station every 45 minutes from 10am and Heritage Church Services at the St Paul's Presbyterian Church on Sunday at 10am.