What’s Hot New Zealand gets their festival on and susses out the country’s top dates, the few worth hitting the road for and the ones to take to the air for.
Fat Freddy’s Drop
If you’re like us and froth top-notch music from local and international artists, then a Fat Freddy’s Drop summer performance should be (or will be) on your radar. The Christchurch edition sees a rad lineup of artists tapped to bless ears with a tasty mix of beats – think headliners Fat Freddy’s Drop, sassy lass Ladi6, The Black Seeds, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Dillastrate and Norman Jay MBE – which is sure to keep you movin’ and groovin’ long into the eve. Don’t fret though, if you’ve cut one too many a shape on the d-floor, the wealth of eats and beverage stalls that’ll be out in full force will keep your energy levels high so you don’t miss a thing. Check out fatfreddysdrop.com for the scoop on who will be accompanying the lads in a town near you.
Where: Hagley Park, Christchurch
When: January 12
Why: Fat Freddy’s Drop duh?
North Canterbury Wine and Food Festival
Make a beeline for the North Canterbury Wine and Food Festival, dubbed the “coolest little wine festival in the country”. A wine connoisseur and foodie’s haven, the annual event showcases the region’s top drops and seasonal eats courtesy of the wealth of eclectic food vendors and wineries. This year’s powerhouse collective includes Black Estate Wines and Pegasus Bay Winery – both of whom have racked up a ton of accolades. Wander amongst the idyllic oaks, soak up the rays, get crafty with local artisans and crafts people, rally the troops and join the Long Lunch – a sensational dining experience that offers up a tasty menu and the crème de la crème of the best wines – and indulge in North Canterbury’s finest produce and suds all to the slick tunes and entertainment that’ll keep the good vibes going all arvo.
Where: Glenmark Domain, Waipara
When: March 10
Why: Your chance to indulge in some of the best wine and produce in the country
Hokitika Wildfoods Festival
Taking food festivals to new heights, Hokitika’s annual Wildfoods Festival is a world-famous event that channels the wild West Coast spirit. While festival-goers can enjoy exquisite gourmet options including marinated tuna, whitebait patties, gourmet sausages, smoked salmon, wild game meats, traditional Maori hāngi and more, it’s the out-there fare that has really made the festival’s name. It’s famous for serving up native New Zealand huhu grubs, but that’s just the beginning; the upcoming fest will have delicacies such as colostrum shooters, possum kebabs and ‘mountain oysters’ on the menu. The festival is a great chance to expose your palate to something new, and with music and cooking demos throughout the day as well, there’s never a dull moment.
When: March 9
Why: Bragging rights to say you sampled out there fare
Cassels & Sons Nostalgia Festival
Kick back to the sounds of summer at this day-long festival, a celebration of music and food set within the 1900s replica township of Christchurch’s Ferrymead Heritage Park. Uniting the community through the magic of music, this hip festival showcases a curated selection of feel-good New Zealand and international artists with music courtesy of TrinityRoots, C.W. Stoneking, The Beths, Holly Arrowsmith, Soaked Oats and many more set to unleash their tunes on the Nostalgia stage. Wander through the vintage streets, treat yourself to a wealth of primo eats and drinks, soak up the entertainment of the roving theatre and peruse artisan goodies. Let the good times roll!
Where: Ferrymead Heritage Park, Christchurch
When: February 16
Why: Experience a laid-back festival in a unique environment
The Great Kiwi Beer Festival
Christchurch’s epic afternoon and evening out has a well-earned reputation as being the country’s largest outdoor beer festival (and some – in fact, us – would say the best). Dedicated to the nation’s favourite amber liquid, this festival is heaven for all who love a cheeky tipple. Navigate your way through more than 300 beers and ciders on tap from some of the best breweries – add in some of Canterbury and Christchurch’s top eats and shoulder-tap some of the country’s best musos including honky-tonk chanteuse Tami Neilson, reggae and roots collective Salmonella Dub and Kiwi faves Stellar (who are linking up after a long hiatus) – and you’ve got one heck of a beerstravaganza.
Where: Hagley Park, Christchurch
When: January 26
Why: Uh, the best beer and cider you can wrap your sweet li’l taste-buds around!
Rhythm and Alps
The South Island’s most popular music festival Rhythm & Alps (or R&A among the serious ravers) is also the largest staged in the Mainland. Thousands of music fans/revellers/campers flock to the stunning scenery of the Cardrona Valley near Wanaka for two days and nights of massive on-stage action from a huge lineup of New Zealand and international musos. This year the lineup includes Action Bronson, Matt Corby, The Black Seeds, Vince Staples, Julia Deans and local duo Dirty Cash among others. With an out-of-this-world party atmosphere, a wide range of options for stepping up your experience to VIP status, the option to sack out under the stars, in a tent, teepees (!) or hotels, and a truly wondrous location (the heart of the South Island, no less), this is one for every festival-goer’s bucket list.
When: December 29 – December 31
Why: Enjoy epic entertainment from local and international heavyhitters on the music scene in a stunning location
The Christchurch City Council are once again producing the summer goods and as per usual have a wicked lineup of events to see you, your fam, your mates and your four-legged pals through the buzzing summer months. The Terrace is the place to be for all that’s hot and happening around the central city so kick-start the summer affair and relax. City Sounds will be taking up a summer residence on The Terrace where set Friday lunchtimes from December to the end of February see local talent taking to the mic and performing live. Mark up events such as the Jordan Luck Band, who will be calling into Hagley Park for a riotous New Year concert, or laze in the quaint surrounds of the Botanic Gardens and vibe to the sweet beats of musos with Deep South Lazy Sundays. Gather the fam and make for New Brighton Beach and partake in the annual Deep South Kite Day (with or without kite), get all kinds of lit at Sparks – one of the city’s most iconic fireworks events – or check out King Arthur, the reinvigorated rendition of the old-skool tale that will have you in fits.
Where: Various venues around Christchurch
When: December through to February (check the CCC website)
Why: Get out and explore the city while also soaking up the talent of our locals
Art Deco Festival
For a retro-fuelled extravagance, head to the party weekend that is Napier’s Art Deco Festival, an annual heritage celebration of the 1920s and ’30s that plays host to a raft of events that includes grand balls, street parties, banquets, costumed events, flight displays and a hugely popular soapbox derby. Don your best threads (take inspo from The Great Gatsby) practise your Charleston and embrace the stunning Art Deco era!
When: February 13 – February 17
Why: Embrace the stunning architecture
Image: John Miles Photography
Bread & Circus – World Buskers Festival
You thought the 2018 edition of the World Buskers Festival was insane? Think again, because Christchurch’s 2019 edition – now rocking its new moniker Bread & Circus – World Buskers Festival – is tapped to up the ante by unleashing a wealth of local and international talent when it takes over the city for 25 days. The upcoming extravaganza will play host to a whopping 527 performances (!), including a smorgasbord of heavy-hitters on the entertainment scene, including Piff the Magic Dragon, Kaput, Hot Brown Honey, Betty Grumble, MulletMan and LIMBO (pictured) and will also have a tasty selection of eats and beats on the side that’ll keep you fuelled and raring to go.
Where: Various venues around Christchurch
When: January 10 – February 3
Why: Epic performances from some of the world’s top performers
Electric Avenue Music Festival
On the hunt for some festival fun? Get your groove on and make for Christchurch’s Electric Avenue Music Festival at Hagley Park with 12 hours of back-to-back tunes. Bringing sizzle and heat by way of an array of local and international musical talent, the 2019 edition sees heavyweights on the drum and bass scene Rudimental nabbing the headline spot, Netsky unleashing his super slick, high-octane tunes, Kiwi lasses JessB, Estère, and Aroha & Tali bringing the sass plus a whole lot more musical acts to be announced. Time to recharge after cutting too many shapes on the d-floor? Wrap your taste-buds around the goodies of a delish lineup of food and drink vendors sure to keep you going long into the eve. Get amongst the ultimate day (and night) out, she’s going to be a biggie!
Where: Hagley Park, Christchurch
When: February 23
Why: 12 hours of high-octane bangers
Sometimes out-of-town festivals are just so rad you’ve really got no choice but to pack up the car and make tracks across the country – road trips and festivals go hand-in-hand (though flying is acceptable for the time poor). Here’s our pick of the hottest.
Highlights on the culinary festival scene include the Wellington Wine & Food Festival (February 2, Wellington), which pairs the region’s best local gourmet producers and restaurants with local wineries and breweries in a showcase of the tastiest in local goodness; in the South Island, the Marlborough Wine & Food Festival (February 9, Blenheim) is New Zealand’s longest-running wine festival – with a natural home in Marlborough, it invites festival-goers to Brancott Vineyard (one of New Zealand’s oldest and scenic wine estates) to enjoy not only the world-famous products of the many vineyards in the region, but also delicious local cuisine. Get your gin on and make a beeline for Gindulgence (March 2/3, Ilam Homestead), a two-day fest where you can sample a selection of top-notch gin from New Zealand’s leading gin producers.
For music-driven shenanigans, look up Rhythm and Vines (December 28 – January 1, Eastland), arguably New Zealand’s most renowned music festival, and make the most of the natural charms of another stunning part of the country taking up residence at the Waiohika Estate vineyard. Live in Lincoln: Selwyn Sounds (March 2, Lincoln Domain) winds back the clock with an epic retro offering of some famous hitmakers, including Little River Band, Jon Stevens, Ross Wilson, Leo Sayer, Automatic 90s and Midge Marsden. Make for either of Bay Dreams’ (now) two locations in Mount Maunganui (January 2) or save the pennies you’d use for your flights and roadie it to the Nelson edition (January 4). In Auckland, St Jerome’s Laneway Festival (January 28), part of an international circuit that sees similar events staged in Singapore, Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney, Fremantle, and Melbourne, is one of the country’s premier music events. In Wellington, the gigantic annual music festival, Jim Beam Homegrown (March 23) rocks five specialist stages and a wealth of acts (this year’s lineup includes heavy-hitters on the Kiwi music scene Shapeshifter, Katchafire, Kora and Sons of Zion) spread around the city’s waterfront during a 10-hour non-stop party dedicated to Kiwi music, or head north to Tauranga and partake in the country’s ultimate reggae fest, One Love (January 26 – 27), where good vibes and good times abound.
Combo festivals offering a little of everything include Auckland’s New Year’s Eve bash Wondergarden (December 31), which fuses an epic musical lineup with roaming performers and lighting installations. Also in the City of Sails is the Auckland Arts Festival (March 7 – 24), an 18-day bonanza of theatre, concerts, art installations, exhibitions, performances, and much more, while the Takaka hilltop Luminate Festival (January 30 – February 6) in Canaan Downs is a week-long music, visual and performing arts and lifestyle (read: hippie) festival where attendees camp amidst native bush. Don your best costume and make for the three-day entertainment extravaganza that is Auckland’s Splore Festival (February 21-24), where they “invite you to embrace the theme and join their mindful tribe of party animals”. If the obscure, strange and unusual is more your thing, you need to hit up the Dunedin Fringe Festival (March 21 – 31), where experimental contemporary art is served to a wider audience, celebrating the new, quirky, out-there, bizarre and exciting over an action-packed 10 days in the funky southern city.