City turning it on for long weekend

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Coming soon . . . Ed Sheeran is playing at Forsyth Barr Stadium on March 29 and 31 and April 1. PHOTO: STAR FILES

Ed Sheeran is not the only one putting on a show this weekend.

Dunedin is pulling out all the stops to ensure residents and visitors enjoy the long weekend, regardless of whether they are going to any of the concerts.

Dunedin City Council community services general manager Simon Pickford said hosting the concerts was a great opportunity to show off what the city had to offer.

About 60,000 people are expected to stay over the weekend, many of whom arrived earlier this week for the first of the three concerts tonight.

The council has organised an array of events such as a community mural-painting event, ukulele session and family concert in the Octagon, as well as additional transport options.

The lower Octagon and part of lower Stuart St were closed to the public yesterday for six days, to create a pedestrian hub.

Mr Pickford said although the city had hosted major artists and sporting events before, the British performer’s shows were the “biggest series of concerts we have ever had in Dunedin”.

Sheeran’s appeal was unique, as his music was enjoyed by young and old alike, he said.

“It just presents a really good opportunity for us to showcase the city, because we have got a lot of out-of-town people coming in and we are expecting a lot of people that have never been to Dunedin.

“Even if you’re not paying for a ticket to the concert, you can still enjoy Dunedin turning on a show.”

It showed promoters the city cared about the overall experience, he said.

“It’s about looking to the future for those other events that might be coming down the track.”

Dunedin Railway’s trains between Mosgiel and Dunedin on the days of the concerts, which could each carry 350 people, had sold out.

Mr Pickford said he was pleased with the city’s response to the transport options.

“We thought it would be popular but it’s been fantastic to see that people have taken the opportunity to leave their car at home.”

While Dunedin residents may opt out of travelling by car, those travelling from Christchurch may not. About a third of concert tickets had a Christchurch address, according to Enterprise Dunedin, which could equate to 5000-7000 extra cars on the highway between the two cities each day of the weekend, the NZTA said.

All active road work sites in North Dunedin would be closed for the weekend.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said “with over 100,000 people attending the Ed Sheeran concerts, including over 60,000 visitors to the city, this would have to be the biggest weekend for Dunedin in living memory”.