10 Oct 2018

Nelson Arts Festival heralds 16 days of thrills, chills and spills

Nelson Arts Festival opens this Thursday with a stunning line-up of shows, talks, events, exhibitions and the much-anticipated Masked Parade & Carnivale.

In 2018, Nelson Arts Festival will entertain, challenge, amuse, delight, and maybe even frighten the living daylights out of its audience!

Tickets are going fast, with some shows either sold out or close to capacity. Festival Director Charlie Unwin says, “We know we’ve done our job well when ticket sales are strong, with shows such as Royal New Zealand Ballet, Olive Copperbottom and An Evening with Michael Leunig already sold out.

“We’re very pleased that tickets are selling well, though we also want everyone to know that there are plenty more tickets available.”

Unwin is particularly excited about this year’s programme, “2018 is going to be a great year for the Festival, and we’re so looking forward to everyone being a part of it, whether it’s coming along to one of the shows, talks and events, taking part in a workshop, one of our free events, or, of course, being one of the thousands of people in or at the Masked Parade and Carnivale.”

“We know there really is something for everyone – as well as some really unexpected treats! We have shows that are just perfect for our littlest ones, through to those who think they’ve seen it all before! There’s a really great range of ticketed and free shows, making the Festival programme as accessible as possible.”

Unwin continues, “Now in its 24th year, Nelson Arts Festival is an event that people know they can trust for high-calibre performances, and this year is no exception, with artists coming from as far away as Hungary and Canada. Many of our artists have performed to audiences around the world, and now it’s Nelson’s turn to see what they can do.

“We want everyone to come along and be part of Nelson’s favourite annual arts event.”

Councillor Gaile Noonan, Chair of the Community Services Committee, is a passionate supporter of the Festival, saying, “Nelson Arts Festival is absolutely a key event for Nelson City Council, bringing out the best in our city. The Festival hosts hundreds of international and New Zealand artists in a wide variety of shows, talks and events – all of which create a real buzz. I encourage everyone to take a look at the programme – there really is something for everyone.

“The Nelson Arts Festival really is the best way to celebrate the change from winter to summer. It’s when our wonderful city really comes alive.”

Highlights of the 2018 programme include the welcome return of Nelson local-made good Rhian Sheehan, the spine-chilling theatricality of The Dunstan Creek Haunting, one of Australia’s best circus troops, Casus Circus, with their latest show Driftwood, the best of New Zealand’s classically-trained singers with Tākiri Ensemble, and the extraordinary dance/theatre piece Lobsters, by Borderline Arts Ensemble.

Theatre-goers have it all with the likes of Pasefika tales with Wild Dogs Under My Skirt, an investigation into consent, feminism and sexual empowerment with Jane Doe, tales about family ties with Conversations with Dead Relatives, and My Best Dead Friend by actor Anya Tate-Manning (last seen onstage in Nelson in Hudson & Halls Live!).

Music lovers are spoilt for choice with an excellent line-up of musicians from around the globe including our own Tiny Ruins, The Eastern, Julia Deans and Louis Baker, alongside Australians Garrett Kato with his beachy vibe, and Sex on Toast in all their wicked 80s-esque glory. There’s world-class one-woman cabaret with Songs for Nobodies, and this year’s gig at Neudorf Vineyards is Canada’s high-energy funksters The Shuffle Demons. The Festival is particularly excited to be presenting the new line-up of one of New Zealand’s premier ensembles, NZTrio.

A highlight of the visual arts is The Flag Project, where two-time World of WearableArts winner Miranda Brown worked with local community groups and schools to create a series of 30 large flags, which will be hung in Founders Heritage Park during the Festival, and then in the centre of Nelson for the Masked Parade & Carnivale.

There’s plenty for the little ones, with the high-jinks of The Messy Magic Adventure! and the sheer breathtaking wonder of Ann-Droid – a little robot on roller skates who sets out on an adventurous quest. And to end the Festival in true community style, it’s the much anticipated Masked Parade & Carnivale, when thousands line the streets to see one of Nelson’s most colourful and joyous spectacles.

This year the Page & Blackmore Readers and Writers programme features more guests than ever before, beginning in true Nelson style with an exclusive appearance by one of New Zealand’s literary treasures, Maurice Gee, who will be discussing his new book, Memory Pieces. Audiences have the opportunity to hear the likes of bestselling author Helen Brown, join Lizzie Marvelly when she issues a battle cry for Kiwi women, and find out how to create wildly delicious kai with Amber Rose. Paul Bensemann documents the fight for our forests, Michèle A’Court shares the secrets of long-lasting intimacy, and 2018 Ockham NZ Book Awards’ non-fiction winner Diana Wichtel recounts the search for her father.

Nelson Arts Festival is one of Nelson’s favourite annual events, attracting thousands of people to see its programme of shows, events, talks, workshops and Masked Parade & Carnivale.

Tickets available at www.nelsonartsfestival.co.nz