Attendees of the Eat, Drink, Play Gala Ball raised nearly $70,000 for Wellington’s new Children’s Hospital on Saturday night.
When Eat, Drink, Play director Jeremy Smith was finalizing the events for this year’s festival during the red light setting, he admits he was ‘super worried’.
But since the festival opened on May 6, he had exceeded all his expectations.
“It went much better than I had hoped. We’re looking forward to a great final week and planning for next year,” said Smith.
* Eat, drink, play to transform Wellington hospitality “up to 11”
* CubaDupa artists will have the chance to perform at the Eat, Drink, Play festival
* Q&A: Singer, songwriter and musician Julia Deans
By the end of the festival on May 29, the area’s hospitality venues would have hosted more than 125 shows, talks and tastings, children’s and family events, theme nights and specially curated menus, meals and drinks.
Smith said the switch to orange came at the right time to allow Wellingtonians to get behind Eat, Drink, Play and the past week would cap off a big month for the hospitality and entertainment community in the city.
“I was so happy that Wellington embraced the festival. The creativity of the business owners has been amazing, the events have been so diverse,” said Smith.
The Eat, Drink, Play Gala Ball at Pipitea Marae sold out with days of announcements and on Saturday night the 350 attendees raised almost $70,000 for Wellington’s new children’s hospital.
“We couldn’t fit another person in,” Smith said.
He was also encouraged by the success of the many food and drink specials throughout the festival and the potential for interactive features such as Cafe Mojo’s daily 10 out of 10 quizzes.
“They are a key part of the festival which has been very well received,” Smith said.
Music will be a major driving force in the final week of the festival with the opening of the Wellington Live Music Trail on May 27. will connect seven sites within walking distance of each other across the city.
Deans said his sold-out Meow show would be one of his first opportunities to play “a normally spaced gig” in nearly two years.
“It will be great to see people hanging out, socializing and enjoying each other’s company again,” Deans said.
Not to be outdone, Jack Hackett’s Irish pub will stage 11 hours of nonstop music on May 28 with a street party in New Orleans featuring street food and performances by the high-energy Crash marching band. Bandihoot and 10-piece multicultural band Ras Judah and Culture Embassy.
Jack Hackett general manager Kushla Mathie said Eat, Drink, Play was a chance for the bar to complete projects put on hold by Cuba Dupa’s cancellation.
“All the fun we’ve missed over the past two years. It’s great to be part of Eat, Drink, Play,” said Mathie.
- Find the full list of Eat, Drink, Play events and experiences here.