Festival Archive

Explore our festival history

TAFT has been presenting festivals to Taranaki audiences since 1991.
In 2021 we are embarking on an exciting project: TAFT 30 Years of Festivals.

This project will see a range of archival material from festivals-past shared here, on our website, and will follow the organisation, the people and the festivals.

Our team are excited to archive and timeline many of TAFT’s historical events, showing how as a regional arts organisation, we have survived and prospered over time and the positive impact the festivals have had on the community.

2020

5-15 November

Get ready to RESET 2020

RESET 2020 was an arts and food festival like no other, a celebration showcasing New Zealand talent in all its diversity.

Along with the stellar, all New Zealand performance line-up, the festival provided an opportunity to support and profile Taranaki’s creative community. With over 30 community events part of the festival programme, people were delivered a feast for the senses. Feast Festival Taranaki enhanced the festival programme, adding to the vibrancy of the region, and allowing visitors to discover the unknown gem of culinary creativeness here in Taranaki.

RESET 2020, brought to you by Tandem Group Chartered Accountants.

Taranaki Garden Festival

A fresh and diverse festival offering.

Like previous years, the 2020 Taranaki Garden Festival presented an inspiring mixture of award-winning gardens, parks, and open spaces from around the region.

The 33rd festival saw an exciting new partnership with the Taranaki Arts Trail bloom, with the festivals opening over the same weekend and presenting a dual programme. The combined festival programme attracted new audiences for both festivals giving the local community and the NZ domestic travelers a broader offering and numerous reasons to explore the beauty of Taranaki. With over 80 artists and 40 gardens on display, 2020 was a diverse and unique spring festival experience.

13-15 March 2020

WOMAD NZ turns sweet 16

WOMAD 2020 delivered a whole new sense of discovery for our festival audiences, spoiling them for choice with eight stages filled with talks from local and international poets and authors, a crowd-popular poetry slam, cooking demonstrations, and the music!

In many cultures, sixteen is a coming of age, where attainment of prominence, respectability and recognition is a crucial stage of life. As one of the longest-running and most sustainable festivals in New Zealand, WOMAD pushed the envelope, encouraging audiences to experience the unexpected, prick consciousness and connect unabashedly with those around them.

+ Listen to WOMAD 2020 Artist Line-up on Spotify 

2019

Spiegel Fest

21 November–1 December 2019

Spiegeltent alive with action during spring.

The Pacific Crystal Palace Spiegeltent headed back to Taranaki for a fortnight of explosive fun. Spiegel Fest Bakertilly Staples Rodway offered audiences eight show-stopping acts (18 spectacular performances), two lunchtime concerts, and a special “treat” for school kids as part of TAFT’s new art festival structure.

From cabaret to acrobatics, to daredevil stunts and hilarious comedy – Spiegel Fest impressed audiences of all ages. The festival kicked off with an intense weekend of comedy, music, and cabaret kicked off the festival, which featured great New Zealand talents Jennifer Ward-Lealand, Julia Deans, Jamie Bowen and the 2019 Billy T Award-winning Kura Forrester.

Taranaki Garden Festival

1–10 November 2019

On the road to Taranaki Garden Festival.

Taranaki Garden Festival is one of NZ’s longest-running garden festivals, with a rich history spanning 32 years.

The 2019 festival provided insight and an open gate to some of Taranaki’s most inspiring gardens and green spaces.
The variations of gardens in the 2019 festival highlight the regions mineral-rich soil and plentiful rainfall, meaning things grow without difficulty and flourish.

The festival gardeners, passionate about their gardens, thrived on sharing their knowledge and stories with visitors and took great delight in opening their gardens to people from all over the world.

Winter Fest

15–25 August 2019

The new ere begins.

The biennial Taranaki Arts Festival underwent a contemporary makeover in 2019, evolving into a series of four unique festivals to keep Taranaki at the forefront of the arts scene.
The new structure saw more arts and entertainment in Taranaki, with two festivals produced by TAFT every year instead of one festival every second year.

Winter Fest was the first festival to set the stage and warm the region’s winter blues, a winter-wonderful programme celebrating stories and the power of words and expression.
Winter Fest offered an unforgettable collection of entertainment with a range of passionately charming stories, belly-aching comedic sketches, and breathtaking performance of theatre and dance.

WOMAD NZ

15–17 March 2019

Diversity, Tolerance and Love. 

WOMAD is a celebration of world music, arts, culture and above all, diversity. A festival is proud to be a safe place, where people from everywhere come together to learn and share the best everything the world can offer. 

On Friday, 15 March, tragic events in Christchurch cracked the spirit of the country and all those attending the festival, mourning fifty souls whose lives were taken by an act of pure hatred.

May they not be forgotten….

#theyareus

“Let us celebrate what WOMAD stands for, for diversity, for tolerance and for love”. Minister Andrew Little 

+ Listen to WOMAD 2019 Artist Line-up on Spotify 

2018

WOMAD NZ

16–18 March 2018

WOMAD wows crowds.

The 2018 WOMAD NZ festival is remembered as one of the best yet. Fresh off the back of being awarded the prestigious “Best National Event of the Year” at the 2017 New Zealand Event Awards, festival-goers flocked to the three-day festival to experience one of the most beautiful outdoor festivals in the world.

WOMAD NZ 2018 was a melting pot of folk, afro-funk, hip hop, classical, jazz and punk rock performed on violins, ouds, koras and squeezeboxes. With artists from countries as varied as Canada, Chile, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon and Mauritania, all delivering a blend of traditional and modern performances. 

The line-up included: the Indian classical and progressive sitar virtuoso ANOUSHKA SHANKAR, classic Kiwi band DRAGON,  the pioneer of bass-dominant, dub flavoured dance tunes, UK’s Adrian Sherwood, the heavy metal-inspired acoustic guitar duo from Mexico, Rodrigo y Gabriela and Washington D.C. based DJ collective, and the uniquely diverse dub inspired Thievery Corporation.

+ Listen to WOMAD 2018 Artist Line-up on Spotify 

Right Royal Cabaret Fest

28 June–1 July 2018

Welcome to the cabaret!

Right Royal Cabaret Fest, brought to you by Tandem Group Chartered Accountants, takes place over a winter weekend and is the perfect festival to heat those chilly winter nights!
The Theatre Royal is the home to the cabaret fest, where stories are told through sultry cabaret, hilarious comedy and magical theatre, all taking place in the intimate surrounds of a night club setting.
The festival, also presented in 2012, has grown in popularity with performances from some of the leading cabaret artists across New Zealand and the world.

Powerco Taranaki Garden Festival

26 October–4 November 2018

A spring celebration of glorious gardens.

Each year the festival is humbled by the months of hard work each gardener puts in to make their place look stunning for the 10-day festival, which brings people back year after year.
There is always a wide variety of garden styles, from formal to cottage, tropical to native, country to urban, edible to scented. In 2018, the festival added a vegetable garden section enabling visitors to see the work of people dedicated to self-sufficiency and healthy living.

The annual Landscape Design Project dazzled and added something different. Taranaki landscape designer Tristan Cave offered Living Rooms, a creation of two distinct garden designs for people to wander through and linger in besides New Plymouth’s Pukekura Park.

The 2019 festival partner Powerco, and other generous sponsors, continue to enable this festival to continue to thrive and grow.

2017

Taranaki Arts Festival

17 August–3 September 2017

Taranaki really is spoiled for choice!

With a spectacular, multi-award-winning line -up of international acts,  the 2017 festival was a star-studded affair that celebrated diverse lives and cultures through music, dance, theatre, literature and visual arts. There was much to experience from the wider world as the festival brought contemporary artists from across the globe to share their stories with places as different and distinct as Ireland, Mexico, France, Korea and Denmark. 

The festival filled venues in New Plymouth and expanded across the region, including the luxurious Staples Rodway Pacific Crystal Palace. 

As the worlds of politics, entertainment, and social media converge and the pace of life increased, this festival challenged audiences to explore the notion of progress. 

The TSB Community Trust People’s Tower, a beautiful temporary structure of cardboard and tape designed by French artist Olivier Grossetête, invited people of all ages to participate in the community arts programme. The tower was constructed and demolished on New Plymouth’s award-winning cricket pitch at Pukekura Park and was one of the highlights of the festival. 

Powerco Taranaki Garden Festival

27 October–5 November 2017

Taranaki’s long-running garden festival is turns 30.

For the past 30 years, the gardeners of Taranaki have opened their hearts and gardens to visitors. In 2017, it was time to celebrate all their efforts with a festival filled with everything green and floral, clipped and wild, formal and free.

The festival was an exciting mixture of free and paid events, including House and Garden tours, Chapman-Taylor tours, a speaker series, a Frida Kahlo-inspired ball, an evening with Ginette McDonald, a backyard sustainability trail, floral art show and an illuminated landscape design project.

Of the nearly 47 featured gardens that year, 42 were private gardens open to the public exclusively for the festival, enhancing the unique offering of a world-class experience that entices new audiences every year.
Nowhere else in the world can people enjoy the experience of a combination of gardens, flora and fauna and the gardeners.

+ The continual growth of Taranaki’s renowned garden festival- read about the festival history HERE

WOMAD NZ

17–19 March 2017

A melting pot of creativity and culture.

The 13th presentation of Womad NZ brought together a sizzling hot line up with big hitters. The British Two-Tone & Ska band ‘The Specials’ straight outta Coventry, feisty Balkan Serbian band Emir Kusturica & The No Smoking Orchestra and one of the pioneers of electro swing, Austrian band Parov Stelar, the schedule was packed with hidden gems of the music world and over 300 artists representing 21 countries across seven stages.

WOMAD NZ had become a true reflection of the combined spirit of the people of Taranaki. Shining light out to the world and inviting artists from around the globe. 

+ In 2017 WOMAD NZ won the best “Best National Event of the Year” at the 2017 New Zealand Event Awards- read more HERE.

2016

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2015

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2014

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2013

WOMAD NZ

15 March–17 March 2013

Taranaki Arts Festival

15 August–1 September 2013

2012

WOMAD

16 March-18 March 2012

Taranaki Garden Spectacular

26 October-4 November 2012

2011

WOMAD

18 March-20 March 2011

Taranaki International Arts Festival

4 August-21 August 2011

Powerco Taranaki Garden Spectacular

28 October-6 November 2011

2010

WOMAD

12 March-14 March 2010

Taranaki Rhododendron & Garden Festival

29 October-7 November 2010

2009

WOMAD

13 March-15 March 2009

Taranaki International Arts Festival

23 July-9 August 2009

Taranaki Rhododendron & Garden Festival

30 October-8 November 2009

2007

WOMAD

16 March-18 March 2007

Taranaki Arts Festival

26 July-12 August 2007

Taranaki Garden Festival

26 October-4 November 2007

2006

Taranaki Garden Festival

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2005

WOMAD

11 March-13 March 2005

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Taranaki Arts Festival

2003

WOMAD

14 March-16 March 2003

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Taranaki Festival

27 February-16 March 2003

2000

Taranaki Rhododendron Festival

27 October-5 November 2000

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1999

Taranaki Festival of the Arts

Feb-March 1999

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1998

Taranaki Rhododendron Festival

30 October-8 November 1998

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1997

Taranaki Rhododendron Festival

31 October-9 November 1997

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1996

Taranaki Rhododenderon Festival

1 November-10 November 1996

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2008

Taranaki Rhododendron Festival

31 October–9 November 2008

1995

Taranaki Rhododendron Festival

27 October–5 November 1995

Opening our gardens to the world.

Before TAFT became the event producer of the garden festival in 2003, the festival was produced by Taranaki Tourism, whose continuous effort to build the festival programme contributed to domestic and international tourism coming into the region.

1994

Taranaki Rhododendron Festival

28 October–6 November 1994

A highlight in the horticulture calendar.

By 1994, the garden festival was growing in stature, with more than 14,000 visitors expected to attend. There were many special events programmed during the ten days of the festival, including a pavement art competition held in Waitara, a Garden and Outdoor Living Expo, and Floral and Wool Craft Festival, to name a few.

TAFT became the event producer of the garden festival in 2003.

1993

Taranaki Festival of New Zealand Arts

6–29 March 1993

A festival programme to stimulate and exhaust!

The second Taranaki Festival of New Zealand Arts provided a thrilling programme, a celebration of the great performers that New Zealand had to offer of that time.

The opening night of the festival was a razzle-dazzle affair held at the Bowl of Brooklands. A collection of supreme talent including internationally acclaimed artists Rob Guest, 200 singers from the National Maori Choir, and thousands of dollars worth of fireworks lighting up the sky and dazzling audiences making the event a night to remember.

Taranaki Rhododendron Festival

29 October–7 November 1993

Making a mark nationally.

In 1993 100 gardens took part in the festival programme the majority of these were private gardens. The festival was beginning to make its mark nationally on the gardening calendar, many people travelling to Taranaki to see the regions stunning collection of Rhododendrons.

TAFT became the event producer of the garden festival in 2003.

1991

Taranaki Festival of New Zealand Arts

3–24 March 1991

Where it all began....

The 1991 Taranaki Festival of New Zealand Arts was the first national festival focusing solely on our culture and the New Zealanders who presented it.

The festival was nearly three years in the making, helped by the generous sponsorship from the commercial sector who saw it as an opportunity to lay a good foundation for the future of arts and experiences and improve the quality of life and the economy in Taranaki.

Taranaki Rhododendron Festival

1–10 November 1991

The early years.

The 1991 Taranaki Rhododendron Festival featured 125 gardens around the mountain, with the map being an essential item to guide visitors during the festival.

TAFT became the event producer of the garden festival in 2003.

View our photo collection

How many shows do you recognise?

With each festival comes a stunning collection of images and media. Browse our collection here:

Our History

Learn more about TAFT and our festivals.

The 1991 Taranaki Festival of New Zealand Arts was the first national festival focusing solely on our culture and the New Zealanders who presented it. 

The festival was nearly three years in the making, first dreamt up in 1988 by Taranaki locals Roger King and Grant Kerr. Both had been to the Wellington Arts Festival and had returned brimming with inspiration, and both men were confident that bringing a festival to the region would be a huge success.

Three years later, in March 1991, the Taranaki Festival of New Zealand Arts launched.

Generous sponsorship from the commercial sector, who saw it as an opportunity to lay a good foundation for the future of arts and experiences and improve the quality of life and the economy in Taranaki, helped get it off the ground. 

An estimated 45,000 people attended the inaugural festival, which presented 500 artists and more than 150 shows. The stars of the 1991 festival were many, including Dame Malvina Major, Michael Houstoun, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Royal New Zealand Ballet, the Topp Twins, Footnote Dance Company, Circa Theatre, Suzanne Prentice and Sam Hunt. 

The festival was an unprecedented success, and Taranaki was “set alight for those special three weeks”.

The nation’s media reported Taranaki’s triumphant festival, and the event even landed an extended segment of the Holmes show, with national broadcaster Paul Holmes.

Retail businesses, hotels, restaurants, airlines and even taxis reported a spike in business, and the event injected nearly half a million dollars of direct spending into the local economy.

The festival remained a feature of Taranaki’s summer until 2003 when Womad New Zealand and the Taranaki Garden Festival joined the TAFT festival portfolio. 

The arts festival shifted to winter, a move that turned out to be the single best thing to happen to the festival. The Taranaki Arts Festival has gone on to become the longest-running regional arts event in the country.

Over the years, one thing has been clear the festival wouldn’t be able to deliver such high-quality shows, from throughout the world, without the help of generous sponsors and partners.

The 2017 festival saw 44 acts, across 13 different venues, including the 3000 piece Spiegeltent termed the Staples Rodway (now Bakertilly Staples Rodway) Crystal Palace. 

The opulent and decadent Palace was one of the venues to play host to talent coming from as far away as Ireland, Mexico, Germany and Sweden.  

In 2019 TAFT announced that the biennial Taranaki Arts Festival would undergo a contemporary makeover, and the festival evolved into a series of four niche festivals. 

Winter Fest, Spiegel Fest, Right Royal Cabaret Fest and Box of Tricks Festival would deliver more entertainment and arts than ever have before, providing countless hours of award-winning entertainment to the region all year round. 

It was a bold, new structure that would keep Taranaki at the forefront of the art scene, responding to the needs of its audience and offering a fresh way to experience, enjoy and enrich their lives with entertainment and arts.

Both Right Royal Cabaret Fest, June 25 to 28, and the Box of Tricks Fest, September 26 to October 4, were cancelled by the Taranaki Arts Festival Trust (TAFT), as the world struggled with Covid-19.
As New Zealand began to resume some sense of a new normal, TAFT created a new festival for Aotearoa to help revive a struggling post-Covid-19 entertainment industry.

RESET 2020 provided a platform for New Zealand artists to get back to work and, just as vital, allowing the local communities to engage again with the festival experience.

The festival coincided with the final weekend of the Taranaki Garden Festival, along with the stellar, all New Zealand performance line-up, RESET provided an opportunity to support and profile Taranaki’s creative community.

With over 30 community events incorporated into the festival programme, people enjoyed an incredible end of year festival fix.

TAFT has presented a total of 19 arts festivals in its 30-year history. Right Royal Cabaret Fest will celebrate the 20th arts festival presented by the little trust that could!