As you will see from My Photo Of the Week #6, I went to the Night Noodle Markets. This is the first time they have been held in New Zealand, and Christchurch, with its love of festivals to brighten a somewhat still broken and rebuilding city, is the ideal place to have them.
The markets have been very heavily marketed on the Stuff website (national newsprint website) as well as on Facebook, and captured a huge following. So much so that on the first night, Wednesday, they were a little overwhelmed. Caught short on parking (shame, City Council) and on numbers through the gates, there were very long queues, food running out and many complaints (amongst others who rated the event). Luckily they listened to their social media feedback sites and the City Council came to the party opening up Hagley Park for car parking (this should have been done right from the start!). The vendors upped their staffing and food and Thursday, night two, when we went was a huge improvement.
So what did we think? Well we had a great time. We’d arranged to meet up (7 of us) around 7pm and the first thing we did was get a drink – interestingly the shortest queues were at the booze tents! We grabbed a leaner and watched the crowd, poured over our newspaper stall listings and watched the chinese lion dance around the kids in the nearby shaded seating area. It was a beautiful night weather wise and a good vibe was on. After about 40 minutes of catch up gossip, and our drinks finished we decided it was time to eat. We decided to work as teams and carried out little reconnaissance missions as to who had what. Then we went off and purchased food (our queues taking only around 10 minutes for the longest) and found a place on the grass to eat our first options picnic-style. A table became available after a few minutes so we then went to seats. Some went off in search of their next food item and others stayed and people/crowd watched.
After a while we decided to head to the other side of the event to where someone had identified some food with very short queues and we were soon all eating again!
We were at the event for about 2.5 hours, long enough for it to get dark and all the lights and lanterns to come on. It was a good friendly vibe.
I had sticky pork and rice, steamed beef chilli buns, pork empanadas on an asian slaw and also 5-spice caramel dough puffs for dessert!
I was well fed, had had a soft drink and a wine and food all for under $40. I was quite happy. We all left thinking it was a great event for Christchurch to host. Sure there is room for improvement – new festivals can only get better (and bigger!) – but it was a great night out. If you’re in Christchurch for the next few days the festival runs until Sunday 10pm. Free entry. Just be prepared for crowds because if the weather forecast runs true and with Classical Sparks on Saturday night, there will be queues. But it’s a festival, for goodness sake. It wouldn’t be right without a queue or two!