Akram Khan Company: Jungle Book reimagined, dancers are standing in a staggered formation with a wide stance, arms raised looking upward, illuminated by green-coloured light.

Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts

Held every two years since 1986, Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts (ANZFA) celebrates creativity in all its forms. With a diverse programme, the festival covers everything from music, theatre, and dance, to visual arts, literature, and more.

Music highlights include The National, performing in Wellington for the very first time as part of the festival’s opening weekend. See international singing sensation Meow Meow alongside the full force of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. And the double-Grammy award-winning choral group The King’s Singers bring their charismatic a cappella singing.

One of the most innovative dance companies in the world, Akram Khan Company present ‘Jungle Book reimagined’. The show is a thought-provoking but magical retelling of Rudyard Kipling’s much-loved classic. Wellington’s boundary-pushing Māori theatre company, Taki Rua Productions, present a new aerial work. ‘Hatupatu | Kurungaituku: A Forbidden Love’ combines dance, theatre, and spectacle. And ‘BELLE — a performance of air’ brings together circus, dance, and a stunning world of light for a Wellington exclusive.

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New Zealand theatre is well represented with many award-winning Kiwi theatre makers in the programme. ‘The Savage Coloniser Show’ brings to life Tusiata Avia’s book of the same name. Released in 2020, it made her the first female Pasifika poet to take out the Ockham. Also watch out for ‘Our Own Little Mess’ by A Slightly Isolated Dog, and ‘Gravity & Grace’ by Eleanor Bishop and Karen McCracken.

Visual arts include The Wētā FX season of ‘Taniwha Time Machine’, an installation on the waterfront from local talents Dreamgirls Art Collective. There will also be exhibitions around the city. The programme also includes films, multidisciplinary works, and a literary weekend. Co-curated by Claire Mabey of Wellington’s Verb Festival, and Anne-Marie Te Whiu (Te Rarawa), the writers programme will feature Māori, Aotearoa, and international writers. With more than 40 events over the opening weekend of the Festival, there’s plenty to enjoy.

Creative Director Marnie Karmelita says the Festival celebrates artists exploring the most compelling ideas of our time in innovative and exciting ways. “The Festival programme kaupapa is to bring joy, wholeheartedly welcoming the world back to Aotearoa.” The 2024 ANZFA programme includes a range of both ticketed and free events. With a diverse selection of local and international acts, it’s set to be a spectacular celebration of global talent.

Top image credit: Ambra Vernuccio