Nelson Arts Festival

Photo: ScatterGun

The 28th Nelson Arts Festival kicks off on October 20, just ahead of Labour Weekend.

With so many events on offer the city will be buzzing with entertainment, offering holidaymakers the perfect minibreak.

The 2022 festival programme boasts 58 events with 33 events being held over the long weekend (Friday 21 October through to Monday 24 October). Add these incredible arts experiences to the lakes, mountains, rivers, native bush and beaches of the Tasman region and celebrate springtime right here, in Aotearoa.

On Labour Day, Port Nelson will come alive with a spectacle that will see three artists dangle on 2.7 tonnes of ice, high above the harbour. THAW, from renowned Australian physical theatre company Legs on the Wall plays over 8 hours. As the ice melts, audiences will consider their role in taking steps towards tangible climate action.

Over the weekend, the Theatre Royal will open its doors to some big names in the entertainment scene including TV personality and comedian Pax Assadi, musical theatre star Rutene Spooner (Ngāti Porou, Ngaruahine), writer and activist Hinemoa Elder (Ngati Kuri, Te Rarawa, Te Aupouri, Ngapuhi), comedian and podcast creator Penny Ashton and the incomparable Kim Hill who is hosting a star-studded panel for The Crucial Decade, in response to the climate crisis.

The Refinery Art Space will also come alive with a specially commissioned free visual arts installation and curated performance by revered arts laureate Charles Koroneho (Ngāpuhi, Te Mahurehure, Te Parawhau, Ngāti Hau). Titled Ko Te Ākau: Poetics of Land, Water and Sky and supported by Go Media, this will be one creatively bold and mesmerising arts experience. The Refinery also hosts an exhibition of clay works by artist Kim Ireland (Te Arawa): Kei Hea a Tiki? questions the fixed gender hierarchies introduced through the colonisation of Māori by reflecting on a more fluid understanding of gender identities in Te Ao Māori.

Deville Music Hub will have punters grooving the night away with weekend performances from the funk-filled five piece – Brown Sugar Factory and Ukrainian born alt-pop songstress VÏKÆ. Jazz lovers are in for a real treat when Tui winning jazz bassist Umar Zakaria takes over The Boathouse on Monday 24 October with Sun Song Suites.

These are a small selection of the incredible line-up of events that include exhibitions, performances, workshops, whispers in the streets, parties, words, discussions, rituals, residencies, and unforgettable experiences that take over halls, theatres, galleries, heritage sites, Kōhanga Reo, a boxing gym and digital platforms across Whakatū.

Find out more at the Nelson Arts Festival website.

Wiri Donna Photo: Kenzie Pigman
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