This summer New Zealanders are spoilt for choice when it comes to cultural edification. Music, theatre, spoken word, installations, plays, poetry, cabaret and circus – it’s all available.

The season begins in October with regional arts festivals in Tairāwhiti, Hawke’s Bay, Tauranga and Nelson.

Please note: due to Covid some festivals have made changes to their programmes. Please visit the individual festival websites (below) for the latest information. 

Tauranga Arts Festival INPTe Tairāwhiti Arts Festival, held in Gisborne from 8-17 October is focused on inclusion, access and authenticity. Elevating the kōrero, taonga and talent of Te Tairāwhiti, the festival returns for the third year in 2021.

Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival will be back for the seventh year between 16-31 October. Making use of the recently revamped Toitoi Hawke’s Bay Arts and Events Centre in Hastings, as well as many other venues around the region, the festival boasts an abundance of local, national and international artists.

The Tauranga Arts Festival takes place from 21-31 October with a focus on local talent and live experiences, including a special soundscape created by Wellington musician Riki Gooch entitled Te Manawataki o Mauao or ‘the rhythm of Mauao,’ designed to download and listen to as an aural accompaniment to a walk around Mount Maunganui. 

Nelson Arts Festival Mask Parade INPThe famous Nelson Arts Festival, held over the same dates, will be an explosion of creativity and culture with most events and performances based in the CBD.

In the new year, you can look forward to two of Aotearoa’s biggest arts events. The New Zealand Festival of the Arts takes place in Wellington from 25 February - 20 March, with early line up announcements including the Hilma AF Klint: The Secret Paintings exhibition at City Gallery, and New York-based Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox performing reimagined popular hits in a vintage style.

From 10-27 March, the Auckland Arts Festival Te Ahurei Toi o Tāmaki, New Zealand’s largest arts festival, returns with a line up spanning music, dance, theatre, visual arts, comedy and family attractions. Auckland Arts Festival Artistic Director Shona McCullagh says, “We’re proud to maintain our role in the arts ecology of Aotearoa for 2022 as an annual gathering that weaves together a multiplicity of voices and stories. This tapestry allows us to create a programme that surprises, delights and resonates with our audiences.”

With events and offerings throughout the Auckland region, the Auckland Arts Festival is committed to eliminating as many barriers to engagement as possible. This year’s festival is founded on a vision to unify, uplift and inspire, realised through including Toitū Te Reo, community engagement, access and creative learning, ensuring everyone feels empowered to join in the fun.

The Auckland Arts Festival calendar will be available at the beginning of November. 


Te Tairāwhiwi Arts Festival, 8-17 October –

Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival, 16-31 October –

Tauranga Arts Festival, 21-31 October –

Nelson Arts Festival, 21-31 October –


New Zealand Festival of the Arts, Wellington, 25 February - 20 March –

Auckland Arts Festival, 10-27 March –

Reported for our AA Directions Spring 2021 issue

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