5 must see festivals in New Zealand

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We love celebrations with a passion, which might explain why we create so many unique events in this country. Every year, the ‘What’s On’ calendar is bursting with festivals that range from the iconic – think Tropfest, St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, International Comedy Festival – to the more ‘unusual’ events – think the aptly-named Loud Music Festival, Juggling and Circus Festival, Dramfest (whiskey) or Caffeination (coffee).

Whatever your taste in entertainment, food, fun or sports, there are stacks of ways you and your family can enjoy the best New Zealand has to offer. Why not make it a resolution to try out a new festival or event in 2016 and expand your pleasure horizons?

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Here are a few festivals to consider adding to your “to do” list in 2016.

New Zealand Festival, Wellington

26 February- March 2016

It’s impossible to upstage the upcoming 30th anniversary of the New Zealand Festival – that’s because Dame Kiri Te Kanawa is returning after a 20-year absence. A one-off recital by Dame Kiri is one of the highlights of the 2016 program which features 53 unique shows to keep Wellington entranced for the three-week duration of the festival.

Aiming for a “kick up the arts” (their words, not mine), the New Zealand Festival  promises a kaleidoscope of dance, theatre, music, visual arts, film and more for everyone. As usual, it is based in 6 venues around Wellington, the city known for its vibrant arts scene, world-class café and restaurant culture, and active outdoor lifestyle. You’d be hard pressed to find a city that’s easier to get around, making it ideal to extract full enjoyment from your chosen festival activities.

Look for all details on the website – www.festival.co.nz

WOMAD, New Plymouth

18-20 March 2016

The world of music, arts and dance (WOMAD) is an internationally established festival which brings together artists from all over the globe to celebrate the world’s many forms of creative performances. The three-day WOMAD festival is held in the beautiful Brooklands Park and TSB Bowl of Brooklands. Its 55 acres become a magical wonderland brimming with energy and bursting with colours, flavours, sounds and aromas.

Smaller stages, the Global Village’s food stalls, craft stores and workshop spaces are dotted around the venue’s heart – a stunning natural ampitheatre which provides the main platform for three days of music and global culture. The park is an easy stroll from New Plymouth’s centre. Bring a blanket and kick back and soak up the warmth of the WOMAD vibe.

WOMAD 2016 fans the flames of the diverse and colourful line up with the addition of the progressive, jazz rap trio De La Soul (USA), electro-gem pioneer St Germain (France), genre forming duo [suːm], pronounced “soom”, (Korea) and the most recorded person in the world, Hindi film playback singer, Asha Bhosle (India).

For more information, check out www.womad.co.nz

The Great Pumpkin Carnival, Hamilton

3 April 2016

Okay, not a festival as such, but a lot of fun anyway. There are some weighty issues to consider for the upcoming Great Pumpkin Carnival. The biggest of these is whether or not the current Australasian pumpkin record of 754.5 kg can be beaten. If you haven’t grown your own pumpkin for the biggest, smallest or most beautiful categories, you’re welcome to bring along any pumpkin that is carved, made into a creation or baked into something delicious.

This is a great family day with children’s (and dad’s) races, bouncy castles and spectacular pumpkin downhill rolling. It’s the seventh year the Great Pumpkin Carnival has been held and keen growers from all over the top half of the North Island compete. Plus there are lots more entries from growers and creators of all ages. It’s always fascinating to see how many of the magnificent giant pumpkins (over 200 kgs) the growers manage to produce in this challenging growing season. And here we are back at the beginning again – will we see a pumpkin heavier than 754.5 kgs?

For more details, go to www.thegreatpumpkincarnival.co.nz

Go Green Expo, Auckland, Christchurch

16-17 April 2016 Auckland

13-14 August 2016 Christchurch

We are understandably proud of our reputation as a pure source of just about everything, lifestyle-wise. Keeping up with new inventions, trends, developments and products is easy – just visit a Go Green Expo, New Zealand’s largest organic, natural, sustainable and green living show. Here you get the chance to learn, try and buy from selected, genuine eco-brands and from start-ups to thriving Kiwi businesses.

The range on show covers everything from organic beauty products to innovative heating and energy solutions. You get to talk to exhibitors about their products and watch live and interactive demonstrations – all in the one place.

Dates have been announced for the 2016 Go Green Expos at Auckland (ASB Showgrounds, Greenlane) and Christchurch (Wigram Air Force Museum) but have yet to be announced for Wellington.

Check out the website for more details as they come to hand – www.gogreenexpo.co.nz

Queenstown Winter Festival, Queenstown

24 June-3 July 2016

We all know Queenstown goes off at any time of the year but the Winter Festival brings partygoers – around 45,000 of them – together for a massive extravaganza of culture and community. If ever there’s been an excuse to have a celebration, this is it. Street parties, fireworks, international and local acts, comedy, family fun and, did I mention the Mountain Mayhem? From mountain bike races on the snow to ice rink activities and everything in between, the Winter Festival encapsulates it all.

Queenstown is legendary, worldwide, for its geographical setting and truly unique culture. While the program for the 2016 Winter Festival has not yet been announced, don’t be left flat-footed. Start planning that holiday now and perhaps get yourself a good accommodation deal while you’re ahead of the rush. I’m sure the program won’t disappoint when it is finally announced!

Keep an eye on the website – www.winterfestival.co.nz

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