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New Zealand Festival a spectacular celebration

17 Mar 2014

The New Zealand Festival welcomed the world to Wellington over 24 days (21 Feb – 16 Mar) of arts events across the city.

Festival Executive Director Sue Paterson said, “It’s been a wonderful festival and I thank all the staff, crew, volunteers and audiences for making it happen. The festival finishes tonight and final attendance numbers are still to be confirmed, but current ticket sales show the festival has issued over 114,000 tickets to audiences for over 300 performances. This is a slight increase on the 110,000 tickets issued in 2012. It’s a great result.”

Part of the success could be attributed to the Contact Season of Power Plant, one of the largest events in this year’s line-up, which saw over 22,000 people enjoy a night time adventure in the capital’s iconic Botanic Garden.

"Wellington is one of the best festival cities in the world.  Part of what makes the New Zealand Festival so special is both its environment and the way that Wellingtonians and visitors embrace it."

Festival Executive Chair Kerry Prendergast said, “Wellington is one of the best festival cities in the world.  Part of what makes the New Zealand Festival so special is both its environment and the way that Wellingtonians and visitors embrace it. Seeing the Botanic Garden transformed in such an extraordinary way and witnessing so many thousands enjoying this space was a personal highlight. Our new partner Contact Energy made this event possible and we must acknowledge our many Partners, Funders, Patrons and Friends for their support.”

In her first year as Artistic Director at the New Zealand Festival, following a six year directorship of the Perth Festival, Shelagh Magadza has championed community participation. The festival got off to a spectacular start with The Big Bang, partnered by TV3, which saw 200 children from South Auckland, Christchurch and the Wellington region join 300 members of the Wellington Community Choirs with Strike Percussion and Kora in a percussion extravaganza that wowed audiences in the capital’s Civic Square.

"The festival is about creating extraordinary experiences – for both audiences and performers."

Festival Artistic Director Shelagh Magadza said, “The festival is about creating extraordinary experiences – for both audiences and performers. We began the festival with a massive free event that put the incredible talent of both young people and local performers in our community in the spotlight. For everyone involved this will be an unforgettable night and the legacy of this project, which was spearheaded by Strike Percussion, will last for many years to come”.

The international programme continues to be at the core of the festival with 19 countries represented in the 2014 programme. The BBC’s Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular featuring the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra pulled new audiences to the festival in an opening weekend line-up that included acclaimed seasons of the Weta Digital Season of Needles and Opium and the Wellington International Airport Season of Deca Dance.

As part of the festival's Writers Week Elizabeth Gilbert, Jung Chang and Marcus Chown headed a line-up of international talent, as well as local writers including our own Man Booker Prize-winner Eleanor Catton, author of The Luminaries. 

There were six world premieres of New Zealand works, from sell-out concert commemorating the WWI centenary in Wellington Cathedral of St Paul, Requiem for the Fallen, to a new New Zealand work Age, by dance maker Ross McCormack which closed the festival tonight.

Festival statistics:

  • As at Saturday 15 March 114,000 festival tickets had been issued, up from 110,000 in 2012.
  • Over 22,000 tickets were issued to the Contact Season of Power Plant - the festival's most popular event.
  • 5000 people enjoyed The Big Bang in Civic Square on the opening night of the festival.
  • 1200 artists from 19 countries visited Wellington during the festival.
  • Online Tix for Twenty resulted in an additional 3,196 tickets sold.
  • Over 24 days, the festival staged more than 300 performances, and six world premieres of new work.
New Zealand Festival Civic Square - 1138x758
Crowds gather for the NZ Festival’s free opening event - The Big Bang - Civic Square.
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