Arts festivals show-off creative NZ
Kiwis love the arts, and local and international artists both living in and visiting New Zealand are often inspired by the country’s diverse natural landscapes, friendly people and unique Maori culture.
New Zealand has a vibrant and thriving arts scene, and Kiwi artists and performers are known for their avant-garde flair, quirky sense of humour and unconventional approaches.
Arts festivals are a way for Kiwis to show off their originality to the world on a large scale - as well as an opportunity for visitors to experience the best of the New Zealand creative scene all in one spot.
These events bring together a collaboration of local and international artists, designers and performers - resulting in an exciting melting pot of shows, exhibitions, music and art.
There are many galleries and studios dotted throughout New Zealand - and each region has its own eccentric and unique artistic personalities and stories to tell.
Nelson, at the top of the South Island, is known for its inspirational landscapes and creative environment. The Nelson Tasman region is home to many of the country’s top artists and craftspeople.
In the sunny Hawke’s Bay region, Napier is New Zealand’s ‘Art Deco capital’, so-called because the entire town was rebuilt from scratch in the distinctive 1930s style after a massive earthquake in 1931. Many heritage buildings have been preserved as living architectural history, and each February thousands of visitors head to Napier for the annual Art Deco Weekend - a not too serious celebration of the Art Deco style and times.
Waiheke Island, a short ferry ride from Auckland, is home to many artists and sculptors seeking refuge from the big city. There are more than 70 working artists in residence on the island, many of whom exhibit their works at Artworks in the Waiheke Community Gallery.
East of Auckland, on the Coromandel Peninsula, renowned Kiwi potter Barry Brickell has created a unique tourist destination with his Driving Creek Railway and Pottery. The 60-minute narrow gauge mountain railway journies through kauri forest to spectacular panoramic views that's a one-of-a-kind art and environmental experience.
Arts festival highlights 2013 / 2014
Te Matatini Kapa Haka Festival, Rotorua
20 - 24 February, 2013
More than 50,000 people are expected to make a pilgrimage to Rotorua in February 2013 when New Zealand’s celebrated and culture-rich tourism hot spot plays host to Te Matatini - the biggest festival of Māori performing arts in the world.
Te Matatini is held every two years and the 2013 festival will bring together 41 kapa haka / Māori performance groups to compete for the coveted title of Toa Whakaihuwaka - New Zealand kapa haka champions. The 2011 winners and champions who will be defending their title are Te Mātārae i Ōrehu - a group representing the local Bay of Plenty tribe Te Arawa.
Te Matatini website
Auckland Arts Festival
6 - 24 March, 2013
The three-week Auckland Arts Festival is tailored to be thought-provoking and entertaining, and the range of events caters to all tastes. The 2013 festival will feature more than 100 performers and events in 30 locations and venues across Auckland city.
This biennial event celebrates the distinct and unique characteristics of Auckland and its location within the Pacific Rim, and includes dance, music, theatre and visual arts.
Auckland Arts Festival website
Dunedin Fringe Festival
14 - 24 March, 2013
Dunedin vibrates with artistic activity and creativity during the 10-day Dunedin Fringe Festival. The 2013 festival will feature more than 300 artists highlighting a range of art forms in 60 events - presenting 35 local acts and 25 visiting shows from New Zealand and around the world.
Special events will include a New Zealand-first appearance by US actor director writer Crispin Hellion Glover, contemporary urban dance exponents EA&AE from Spain, and a six-part 'rapumentary' series on street art and activism by New Zealand artist Dean Hapeta.
Dunedin Fringe Festival website
Festival of Colour, Lake Wanaka
16 - 21 April, 2013
Known as the ‘best little arts festival in New Zealand’, Festival of Colour is the flagship arts event for the Southern Lakes region and takes place against the spectacular autumn scenery of Lake Wanaka. The festival runs for six days and nights of sell-out seasons for an international mix of music, theatre and dance performances.
Highlights of the 2013 programme include two world premières. In Between Darkness and Light, Michael Houstoun accompanies soprano Jenny Wollerman in a compelling series of songs set to full theatrical lighting. Tracing Hamlet is a deconstructed production of the Shakespeare classic set in Puzzling World’s famous maze and illusion rooms, and featuring local artists and performance students.
Festival of Colour website
Southland Festival of The Arts
26 April - 12 May, 2013
The Southland Festival of the Arts is an outstanding showcase of creative excellence featuring imported and local arts activities. An exciting array of events in all genres - theatre, music, dance, literary arts and galleries, offers the public a wide variety of opportunities.
Southland events website
Christchurch Arts Festival
22 August - 22 September, 2013
Five weekends of theatre, dance and music will bring heart and soul back into the heart of Christchurch, New Zealand’s ‘garden city’ during the Christchurch Arts Festival - a biennial event that aims to excite, entertain, educate and inspire the people of Christchurch and its visitors.
Christchurch Arts Festival focuses on up-and-coming local talent, as well as international artists seldom seen in the South Island.
Christchurch Arts Festival website
World of WearableArt (WOW)
26 September - 6 October, 2013
Dubbed ‘Mardi Gras meets haute couture’, New Zealand’s WOW or World of WearableArt is a uniquely Kiwi event mixing high fashion and art in a spectacular stage show.
This dazzling show lists on the international calendar and attracts entries and audiences from all over the world. The 2012 supreme award winners were two Chinese design students who scooped the supreme, supreme runner-up and two section awards.
Although the event is now held in Wellington, New Zealand’s capital, it had humble beginnings, starting in Nelson when local sculptor Suzie Moncrieff came up with the idea of taking art from the gallery wall to adorn the human body.
A museum honouring the history of this visual extravaganza has been established in Nelson, housing collections from finalists and winners for the past 20 years.
World of WearableArt website
Nelson Arts Festival
TBA: October, 2013
The South Island's Nelson Tasman region is home to a significant artistic community inspired by wild landscapes of golden sand beaches and vast protected national parks, and a gentle openair climate. In October, the city transforms into a living visual feast for the Nelson Arts Festival.
As well as studio and gallery tours, there are readers and writers’ events, theatre shows and live bands. The festival has been going for 16 years and opens with a masked parade through the city streets, where up to 4000 participants celebrate Nelson’s version of the Mardi Gras.
Nelson Arts Festival website
Tauranga Arts Festival
24 October - 3 November, 2013
The biennial Tauranga Arts Festival takes over the Bay of Plenty city for 10 days with a packed event programme of music, theatre, cabaret and exhibitions.
The schedule includes the latest from New Zealand’s best playwrights, performers and dancers, theatre direct from world stages, live music, a literary programme, major exhibitions, a schools programme, and street theatre covering 80 events.
Tauranga Arts Festival website
Otago Festival of the Arts
Biennial event - October 2014
This biennial art festival started in 2000 as a way of bringing some of the world’s best artists and performers to the Otago region. The 10-day festival programme includes music, theatre, dance and visual art exhibitions at galleries around Dunedin. Many local artists hold exhibitions during the festival.
Otago Arts Festival website
New Zealand Events - Summer 2012 / 2013
Celebrating weird and wacky NZ events
Napier - NZ's Art Deco Capital
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