New Zealand Festival

Founded in 1986, the New Zealand Festival is Aotearoa’s largest celebration of cutting-edge arts and culture.

A group of men and women dancing in an outside location.

Le Grand Continental


From 26 February to 20 March, Wellington will transform into a global culture zone. No other New Zealand city compares with Wellington at festival-time, and this year will be no exception.

The New Zealand Festival will be showcasing some of the finest international and home-grown music, theatre, dance, artists and writers, handpicked by the festival’s Artistic Director, Shelagh Magadza.

The festival is celebrating its 30th year with a programme designed to “kick up the arts!”.

  • For the first time in New Zealand, audiences can experience two of late choreographer Pina Bausch's creations when her company, Tanztheater Wuppertal, perform her signature pieces Café Müller (1978) and The Rite of Spring (1975).
  • From the makers of the 2014 festival favourite Power Plant comes For the Birds, an enchanting art experience in the native forest of Otari-Wilton’s Bush, celebrating light, flight and birdsong.
  • US trumpeter and band leader Wynton Marsalis is the biggest name in jazz, and the ensemble he leads, the Jazz at Lincoln Centre Orchestra, will perform three not-to-be-missed concerts. 
  • The free-to-attend Contact Festival Playground is sure to delight with a parent-powered junkyard fairground, featuring a merry-go-round made of motorbikes and toilet bowl seats on a Ferris wheel. 
  • A striking two-tier stage will be built in the Opera House for Mariano Pensotti's cinematic theatre show, Cineastas
  • The Royal New Zealand Ballet returns to the programme for the first time in 12 years with an explosive mixed bill, Speed of Light.

Ready to kick up the arts? Check out the full festival line-up.