At the New Zealand Festival, we’ve been creating extraordinary encounters between artists and audiences since 1986. The New Zealanders who established the Festival were pioneers, achieving their highly ambitious goal of bringing the best live arts experiences from across the world to audiences in New Zealand. And we’ve been doing it on every even year ever since.

Now more than 30 years young, we continue to realise our founders’ vision, and to take it in ground-breaking new directions, inspired by our commitment to originality, excellence, and to make the world a better place through that most vital, life-giving force – art.

New Zealand Festival is a three-week international multi-arts festival which presents artistic work of honesty, bravery and splendour. The 2020 New Zealand Festival takes place 21 February – 15 March 2020.

A fresh approach to programming the New Zealand Festival

From 2020 we are taking a fresh approach to programming to increase the voice of artists in the creation of the New Zealand Festival. Previously the programme was selected by a single Artistic Director, but from now the programming process will be overseen by our Creative Director who will work with three Guest Curators, all practising artists with international reputations, to programme one week each of the three-week event.

Creative Director Marnie Karmelita says the curatorial model will bring a programme that’s “fresh, exciting and unique. Each Guest Curator will present a signature series of works they have chosen. It will give our audiences unprecedented access to leading artists with significant international reputations. You will discover their worldview, encounter their art, and experience the work of other artists who inspire and interest them”.

The first of three guest curators for the 2020 festival is the internationally-renowned artist and theatre-maker Lemi Ponifasio. “Lemi Ponifasio is one of New Zealand’s greatest living artists with a huge international reputation and we’re honoured to have his creative vision represented in the New Zealand Festival in 2020,” Marnie says.

Two more Guest Curators will be announced in 2019.  More information about how we select artists and shows can be found in our Artist FAQs.


Made in Wellington

The New Zealand Festival has launched Made in Wellington, an artist residency programme to produce a new work that will be performed at the New Zealand Festival. The first Made in Wellington residency will take place in February and March 2019 with acclaimed  international artist Michael Keegan-Dolan spending six weeks in Wellington working with local collaborators on a major new dance work, which will then tour internationally and be staged in Wellington at the 2020 New Zealand Festival. The audience will be invited into the world of the work during the residency and gain a fascinating insight into the creative process of an artist. Keegan-Dolan is well known to local audiences having presented three highly-acclaimed works at past New Zealand Festivals – Giselle (2008), Rian (2014) and Swan Lake (2018).

Support and Get Closer to New Zealand Festival

In 2016 we launched The Culture Club, where arts lovers can mix with each other at their own programme of events, receive specially commissioned content, and enjoy early access to tickets – all the while seeing their financial donations support one of our most important credos: keeping show prices affordable for as many people as possible.

And alongside The Culture Club, we have ARTicleour digital arts magazine, telling Festival and other New Zealand and international arts stories, while also guiding you to the best arts coverage on the web. The magazine, like everything we do, is built on one simple principle: the arts matter – and we know plenty of you agree.

To stay up to date, sign up for our regular enewsletters, follow us on Facebook, see our journey on Instagram or join the conversation on Twitter.

Introducing Tāwhiri

As a company, we’re no longer about a single event only. Under our overarching company, Tāwhiri, we also produce the annual Wellington Jazz Festival and biennial Lexus Song Quest and a new annual event Second Unit

No longer alone, our biennial Festival nevertheless remains at the heart of our family, as bold and ambitious now as it was in 1986. It’s one of the top five largest festivals in Australasia and one of the key major events in the New Zealand cultural calendar, injecting over $50 million into the capital’s economy in 2017-18.