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The ultimate guide to New Zealand's music festivals

From well-known festivals like Rhythm and Vines to undiscovered gems, we’ve brought together the ultimate guide to Aotearoa’s festivals.
By · April 26, 2024
The ultimate guide to New Zealand's music festivals

New Zealand has a thriving festival scene. Whether you’re into dance music, arts and culture, or homegrown beats, or just enjoy discovering new music, there’s a festival for you.

From well-known festivals like Rhythm and Vines to undiscovered gems, we’ve brought together the ultimate guide to Aotearoa’s festivals.

When is New Zealand’s festival season?

If you’re new to New Zealand or planning on travelling here, it’s worth noting that New Zealand’s festival season is at its peak in Spring and Summer. From October to May, the weather around the country is warm and calm, perfect for long days of relaxing and long nights of dancing.

Many festivals are held over the New Year period. There’s nothing better than ringing in the new year dancing away to your favourite bands surrounded by thousands of revellers. Many festivals are held in rural areas, and have the option to camp.

Some New Zealand festivals can be slightly harder to get to. Having a car or private vehicle to get to and from your destination can be a good idea.

New Zealand's most popular festivals

These are some of Aotearoa’s most well-known and popular festivals! Don't let their size deter you, there's a good reason for their success.

One Love Festival, Tauranga, January

onelovefestival.co.nz

One Love Festival is one of the most popular festivals in the southern hemisphere for reggae music. Featuring homegrown and international artists and musicians, this two-day festival draws large crowds and has been sold out for the last four years. The festival is usually held over Auckland Anniversary Weekend, and up to 20,000 people attend. Get in early to secure your tickets, as the festival has sold out for four years.

Past acts have included Sean Paul, UB40, Shaggy, Pia Mia, Nesian Mystik, House of Shem, Katchafire, and Sons of Zion. The festival also offers several camping packages, including glamping in a large bell tend on an air mattress, camping in a two-person teepee or doing it the old-fashioned way and bridging your own tent.


Rhythm and Vines, Gisborne, New Years

rhythmandvines.co.nz

Held on a vineyard, Rhythm and Vines is a popular dance music festival that’s been running for two decades. This three-day festival is held over the New Year period and features some of New Zealand’s most prominent artists and international acts each year.

Held in Gisborne, you’ll be one of the first people in the world to watch the sunrise in the new year. Rhythm and Vines draws a younger crowd, but if you’re into good music, a party atmosphere and enjoy camping amongst the vines, there’s no better place to be.


Homegrown, Wellington, March

homegrown.net.nz

Homegrown is New Zealand’s premier festival for showcasing local talent. With 5-7 stages and a full day of local bands and performers, it’s a great way to see New Zealand bands within one weekend. Held on the Wellington waterfront, past performers have included Stan Walker, Teeks, L.A.B, Kora and Ladi6, plus so many more.


Rhythm and Alps, Wanaka, New Years

rhythmandalps.co.nz

Rhythm and Alps is the little sister to Rhythm and Vines. Held over the same dates, this three-day festival sees thousands of people pouring into the Cardrona Valley, just 15 minutes from Wanaka, to watch over 50 international and local musicians perform on five stages.

It’s known as the South Island’s premier music festival. Whether you’re a day tripper or a camper, you’ll enjoy being surrounded by stunning mountains and streams as you dance the day away. With bars and a vendor village you’ll find everything you need on-site.


Electric Avenue, February, Christchurch

electricavenuefestival.co.nz

Looking for more South Island festivals? Electric Avenue is hosted in February in Hagley Park and hosts over 30 artists across four stages. Past acts include international artists such as The Chemical Brothers, Synthony and ShockOne. Electric Avenue is an R18 festival.


Art and culture festivals

Looking for a festival that offers more than just great beats? Check out these festivals which effortlessly blend art and culture into the experience. Many of these festivals are also family friendly!

Earth Beat Festival, March, Kaipara, Auckland

earthbeatfestival.com

Earth Beat Festival is a music, art and culture festival held near Auckland. Not only is this festival family-friendly, it’s also zero waste! If you’re interested in attending a festival that goes beyond good music and celebrates creative play, spirituality, and reconnecting with the Earth, this festival is for you!

More than just a festival, Earth Beat also hosts workshops, presentations and talks on a variety of topics, from parenting and permaculture to singing, yoga, money and finance.

This family-friendly camping festival is held over five days on the shores of Kaipara. You’ll need to bring your own cutlery, bowls, charging batteries and medications to ensure you’re self sufficient during the festival.


Cuba Dupa, March, Wellington

cubadupa.co.nz

Wellington’s biggest street festival is worth travelling to the capital for! Held over a weekend, the streets within the Cuba Quarter are closed to traffic and transformed into an area for stages, street performers, food vendors and artists.

Every year, around 100,000 people walk the streets, exploring the stages and celebrating the sights and sounds of Cuba Dupa. There’s something for everyone from punk rock bands to world music, dance performances and DJs.

Creative installations and site activations mean there’s never a dull moment, and there’s always something more to explore. The Cuba Dupa parade is also something not to be missed. Cuba Dupa is a family-friendly event with some R18 indoor locations.


Splore, Auckland, February

splore.net

Splore began as a boutique festival and has now grown to a popular music and arts festival held over three days. With multiple festival stages, this multidisciplinary festival features music, performing arts, costumes, visual arts, food and drink and spoken word art.

Held on the shores of Tāpapakanga Regional Park, the festival is hosted on the ancestral land of Ngāti Whanaunga and Ngāti Paoa. While parts of the site are tapu and not open to revellers, guests can explore the iwi-led cultural village and cultural programme that takes place over the weekend.

Splore is a kid-friendly festival and has tickets and spaces for kids, teens camping and whanau-friendly activities. You’ll also find activities to nurture your body and soul, including yoga, and transformative workshops taught by experienced practitioners. The festival is also committed to sustainability and has eliminated the use of single-use plastics.


WOMAD, March, Taranaki

womad.co.nz

WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance) is a global festival that brings artists and performers together worldwide to perform for three days.

This family-friendly festival includes camping, great food, a bustling market and many activities including workshops from international practitioners. Want to learn more about Voodoo from a genuine Haitian Vodou priestess and dance the night away to jazz? You can do it all at WOMAD.

With spaces designed just for children, the whole family will find something to enjoy. The event strives to be zero waste and focuses on earth-friendly and sustainable practices.


Dimension, Northland, January-February

dimension.nz

If psychedelic festivals are your thing, look no further than Dimension. Held in Northland, this festival is for people who love to be themselves. Everything from art, music and the unusual is on offer. If you like dance music, this is the festival for you. The 2024 lineup included Drum n Bass, Dubstep and Breaks musicians and DJs, and Progressive and Deep House beats.

Dimension is held in a remote valley near the Mangakahia River - the perfect place for losing yourself. The festival also offers three camping options, and every ticket includes free tent camping.


Boutique festivals

Looking for something smaller? Check out these boutique festivals around Aotearoa.

Shipwrecked, February, Various Locations

shipwrecked.co.nz

Shipwrecked runs a series of festivals during February and May. With the main festival held over three days in February, you can also enjoy the fun with smaller shows organised by the Shipwrecked crew at Silent Studios in Onehunga.

Shipwrecked festival is designed with community in mind. You’ll enjoy connections, creativity and a great crew during this event. Enjoy dance, art and other creative encounters.


Twisted Frequency, Golden Bay, January

twistedfrequency.nz

If you’re into underground music, why not celebrate with five days of diverse music and culture in beautiful Golden Bay. With music, live art, visual entertainment, workshops and community get-togethers, Twisted Frequency is dedicated to growing underground music and bringing happiness, connections and creativity to all who attend.

This festival also has sustainability in mind. While there, you can learn how to camp mindfully, reduce your waste, and look after the waterways while you do it.


Soundsplash, January, Raglan

soundsplash.co.nz

Soundsplash is a boutique-sized festival that draws some big names. Held over three days past acts have included Tiki Taane, Sigma, Mallrat, Sunshine Sound System and more. Enjoy three stages, camping and a kai village with global food for you to explore. Held in Raglan, the festival includes transport options for daytrippers from Hamiton or Auckland.


AUM Festival, New Years, South Head, Auckland

aum.co.nz

AUM festival is a boutique music, culture and arts that’s also family friendly! Promising musical performances, visual art, wellness activities, and multiple music stages, enjoy hitting the dance floor during the night and soaking up creativity during the day. With a broad range of music on offer, past festivals have include a great mix of drum & bass, psychedelic rock, dub, bass music, 90s classics and more across four stages.

The festival is held over four days and includes the option to camp and tent camping and parking are included in your ticket price.


Kiwiburn, January, Hunterville

kiwiburn.com

Kiwiburn is New Zealand’s regional burning man festival. If you’ve always wanted to be a Burner, check out this participatory festival where there are no central stages or headline acts, and you are part of the entertainment.

Kiwiburn is a collective experience where the art is created by those who attend. Make art, host an event, camp and get inspired. At the end of the festival, the artwork is celebrated with a burn.

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