Six amazing New Zealand music and arts festivals to tick off in 2020

New Zealand just loves a party, and with 2020 ushering in a new decade, expect this year’s music and arts festivals to be bigger, bolder, and louder than ever before. There are hundreds of festivals held across the country, but here are six that should be on your radar. Book your stay for each of these amazing events at ChoiceHotels.com.

World Buskers Festival

23 January to 16 February, Christchurch

Pretty much anything goes at Christchurch’s mind-blowing Bread & Circus World Buskers Festival, which takes the arts of circus, cabaret and street performance to dizzying new heights. Acrobatics, dance, stand-up comedy, improv, burlesque and of course, plenty of good old-fashioned busking for your bread all have a part to play in making this a one-of-a-kind festival that offers something for literally everyone. Choose from more than 40 shows, featuring performers from across the planet. Headliners Blanc de Blanc will get pulses racing with their signature blend of old world glamour, sassy innuendo and plenty of skin.

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New Zealand music and arts festivals
World Buskers Festival. Image – Alamy

Splore

21 to 23 February, Auckland

Do you want the good news or the bad news? The good news is that Splore’s 2020 festival in Auckland is set to be bigger and better than ever. The bad news is it’s sold out. However, you can go on a waiting list for tickets, so give that a try. Set on the stunning shores of Tapapakanga Regional Park, Splore is another one-of-a-kind. It’s like a giant three day dress-up party, packed with music and visual art. You can dress to the theme or just go off on your own blissful but culturally aware tangent. The festival features an array of music genres and sets a global standard for sustainable events. The aim is to send nothing but compostables to landfill.

Need a place to stay?

Browse Auckland accommodation options

Marlborough Wine & Food Festival

8 February, Marlborough

When you produce some of the best wines in the world there’s plenty of cause for celebration, and the Marlborough Wine & Food Festival takes that particular ethos and runs with it. New Zealand’s longest running wine festival brings around 40 wineries together to showcase their liquid wares, along with the delicious delights of an array of culinary providores. And where there’s good wine and fine food, music is usually called for. Two stages host a range of local musical acts, along with chef and winemaker presentations. Maori reggae outfit Katchafire will headline the main stage. It all takes place in the grounds of Brancott Vineyard – one of Marlborough’s oldest and most picturesque vineyards.

Need a place to stay?

Basing yourself in Blenheim and busing it out to the festival is a good way to go. Quality Hotel Marlborough makes the perfect Blenheim base. There are plenty of wineries within easy reach of the hotel, and you can walk to the town centre with ease.

New Zealand music and arts festivals
Image courtesy of Marlborough Wine & Food Festival

Electric Avenue

22 February, Christchurch

Back down in Christchurch, Perth drum and base outfit Pendulum will be bringing their distinctive blend of electric beats and hard rock to this year’s Electric Avenue Music Festival – one of the South Island’s biggest annual music events and one that pays homage (although not exclusively) to electronica. Fans will pack three stages in Hagley Park for this marathon 12-hour tunefest. Catch US singer songwriter Ben Harper, and Aussies Matt Corby, Gang of Youths, Peking Duk, and Lime Cordiale.

New Zealand music and arts festivals
Image courtesy of Electric Avenue

Pasifika Festival

14 & 15 March, Auckland

Cancelled in 2019 in the wake of the Christchurch tragedy, Auckland’s Pasifika Festival in March is likely to be double the celebration this year, as the city showcases Pacific Island cultural heritage in all its diverse forms. The event features a series of region-specific ‘villages’ where festival goers can watch cultural performances, take part in workshops, and try a range of culinary specialities. The festival – the largest of its kind in the world – attracts hundreds of performers and artisans, who travel from their island nations to be part of the event. Entry is free.

New Zealand music and arts festivals
Pasifika Festival. Image courtest of Auckland Tourism

Homegrown

21 March, Wellington

Homegrown hits the nation’s capital with a big old bang in March. This celebration of Kiwi musical talent is always huge and encompasses five separate stages across the Wellington waterfront and a line-up of 40+ acts. Some of the highlights of this year’s knees-up include mega-popular live electronic outfit Shapeshifter and reggae rocksters L.A.B, on the Park Stage, and musical pioneers The Feelers and blast-from-the-past Dragon, on the City Stage. Dragon’s 70s hits like April Sun In Cuba still send fans through the roof.

Need a place to stay?

If you are having trouble finding reasonably priced accommodation in the city, Quality Inn Angus is located just 15 minutes’ drive from the CBD in Lower Hutt. The hotel has 75 superior rooms and suites, along with a pool and sauna.

About the writer

Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. He has previously had the opportunity to travel the world as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. 

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