We sometimes forget that there is a whole lot to explore in our own country. In Christchurch’s proverbial backyard – tucked away in Banks Peninsula – sits Akaroa. It’s a place with a unique history; having been settled by the French – leaving behind some of the most distinctly European architecture in New Zealand – with German and tangata whenua history too.

There’s nothing like getting away for the weekend and escaping to picturesque Akaroa is the perfect excursion. Next month there is the added chance to be able to immerse yourself in French culture, entertainment, and romance as the town celebrates its unique history at Akaroa FrenchFest on October 11 to 13.

Far from a one-dimensional festival, you’ll be captivated at every turn. Giving a nod to the Māori history of the town, a call to welcome will reverberate over the peninsula hills as a powhiri opens the festival. Settle in on Friday evening as you enjoy relaxing seaside dining and watch the street on the waterfront (Beach Road) come alive with entertainment and music.

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As day breaks on early Saturday morning, relive the European settlement of the area and take part in a living history re-enactment with The Landing on the main beach followed by the parade to the Recreation Ground.

As the day progresses, the official part of the programme will commence with speeches and the official flag raising.

Once the pomp and ceremony are over, visitors can head to the Recreation Ground, where the Le Jour du Marche (Market Day) is taking place from 11am till 4.30pm. From French-inspired markets to games and food, to entertainment and live music, the market place will have something to keep a curious visitor occupied all day.

Some of the more iconic events like the Waiters Race and the Cock Crowing competition are back again and are sure to impress!

The party doesn’t stop when the sun goes down; Saturday evening is sure to be a memorable one. Perhaps the most French of all, there will be a ticketed cabaret – featuring an array of music and entertainment into the wee hours of the night.

With a croissant in hand, and maybe a little bit of a heavy head, the final day – Sunday – has an exciting event for the kids with the Circotica Circus workshop plus a circus performance to close FrenchFest 2019.

It’s at that point in the year when we all deserve a break – French-inspired happiness is just a quick one-and-a-half-hour drive over the hills and around the bays away.

Joshua Brosnahan