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Clear Your Calendars, Here’s Your Guide To NZ’s Most Epic Summer Festivals

By Georgina Shearsby-Roberts
21st Jan 2020

New Zealand Summer Festivals To Plan For Now

Looking for a little inspiration to get you through the last of these cold, dark, wintery days? Well, it’s time to get yourself amped up for the most wonderful time of the year. We’re talkin’ New Zealand’s summer festival season, people. Across the country, we'll be locking in tickets to some of the best summer festivals our awesome country has to offer, all promising an epic mash-up of beats, good vibes and all round fun times in the sun. 

So dust off your Birkenstocks, grab your crew and take your pick from the ultimate guide to the best summer festivals in New Zealand. From the classic New Year’s parties, to boutique one-day events and family-friendly weekends, here are all the festivals you need to be at this summer. Let the partying begin! 

Rhythm & Vines 

28 December 2019—1 January 2020

You can’t go past a classic, and this Kiwi festival is no exception. If you’re partial to ringing in the New Year with thousands of other music-loving punters, then Rhythm and Vines is a rite of passage any self-respecting Kiwi must experience. Set in amongst the vines in sunny Gisborne, this year’s festival comes with a solid line-up including Drax Project, Maala, Ziggy Alberts, Alison Wonderland and so many more. Grab your ticket now or risk FOMO as you watch your friends moshing to the ultimate beats of summer.   

Rhythm & Alps 

29—31 December 2019

You South Island crew sure know how to party. Rhythm and Alps has become the unmissable New Year’s camping festival in Wanaka and Queenstown, and we totally understand why. R&A combines stunning scenery with world class acts and seriously good festival feels. Heck, even Auckland folks are making their way down to get a piece of the action. This year’s line-up is looking mighty fine with London DJ Wilkinson and his full band, Jon Hopkins, Floating Points, Shy FX, Chali 2na, Ladi6 and State Of Mind bringing the heat down to the south. 

Northern Bass 

29—31 December 2019

Think you’re all about that bass? Then Mangawhai’s Northern Bass is where you need to be this New Year’s. Back for its ninth year, the line-up is stronger than ever with their classic mix of local and international music talent. Think JessB, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Foreign Beggars, Ghostface Killa, Goldie and Friction alongside a host of other artists with a knack for putting down sick beats. It’s also a sweet spot to test out your festival camping skills.

Highlife NYE Festival 

31 December 2019 

This summer festy may have taken a breather for two years, but it’s back and ready to welcome you into the new year once again. Nestled in the scenic Ascension Wine Estate on the Matakana Coast and with a R22 policy, this is one for all you folks wanting a more, shall we say, sophisticated way to celebrate bringing in 2020. With local acts such as the The Black Seeds, Latin Aotearoa, and Tyler Christie, in amongst international acts like David Puentez and The Cube Guys, they’re coming back with a bang. Ensuring you party the night away in true Matakana style there will be gourmet food vendors, craft beverage companies, and a fun-yet-stylish dress code—so brush up on your wine knowledge and dust off your flower crown—Highlife Festival is back.

Bay Dreams 

2 January, 4 January 2020 

After expanding from its home in The Mount into the South Island’s Nelson Bays last year, New Zealand’s biggest New Year’s Eve festival is gearing up for what looks to be its most exciting event yet. Once again, the team will be starting the party in Mount Maunganui on January 2, before bringing the good vibes down south to Nelson on January 4. If you’re after an international guest line up like no other, then look no further. From Tyler, The Creator and Halsey, to Mitch James and Ocean Alley, the team behind Bay Dreams are stepping it up a notch in this non-stop party. So, grab your mates, stock up on your glitter supplies, and take a roadie to what is set to be an event not to be missed.

Luminate Festival

30 January—6 February 2020

Nelson’s magical Golden Bay brings together New Zealand’s vibrant live and electronic music in an eight-day transformational festival. The Luminate Festival hosts more than 200 musical, visual, and performing arts acts over the transition from summer solstice to autumn equinox and has five different zones so there’s something for everyone. The Lunasa Stage is for those who like jazz funk, Tribal connects with sounds of indigenous instruments, Electronic Zone is where you mosh out, Chillounge is the place to go to when you want some downtime and the Village Stage is where they offer some community fun. Get amongst it.


17—19 January 2020 Raglan & Timaru

It really doesn’t get much better than Raglan in the summer. With the surf, sunshine and adorably cute township, you could almost say that it’s our dream summer destination—although Soundsplash might have a little influence on that too. This three-day music festival takes place at Wainui Reserve with an eclectic mix of music, art, yoga, dance, food and bevvies. This year they've also announced that they'll be hosting a Soundsplash in Timaru and the line up across both is enviable. Peking Duk will be playing at Raglan only and Stan Walker will be at Timaru, other acts include Sachi and Sons of Zion. Whether Raglan or Timaru, this’ll be one summer weekend not to be missed. 


27 January 2020

St. Jerome’s Lane Festival is gearing up to put on yet another stellar show next year. Held over Auckland Anniversary weekend on 27th January, this boutique festy should be on every Aucklander’s calendar. A range of international and local acts will create an experience like no other, turning the central city into a hub of excitement. Of course, as per every year, Auckland’s best food vendors will keep tummies full and the sun will hopefully shine #fourseasonsinoneday. Predictably the line up this year is banging, with The 1975, Charli XCX, Ruel, Marlon Williams, The Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, Earl Sweatshirt and The Beths sure to bring epic beats and good times.


21—24 February 2020

Just when you thought you couldn’t take another weekend spent moshing to the beat by day and getting down and dirty camping at night, the allure of seeing out the last of the summer sun at Splore should change your mind. This three-day festival / giant dress up party is in a league of its own with everything from music and performing arts to workshops, installations, wellness centres and a whole lot of love. Settle in on the beautiful shores of Tapapakanga Regional Park, put on your party pants and prepare for a three-day entertainment extravaganza. The 2020 line up is, as always, exciting. Expect DJ Ez, The Parov Stelar Band, Kate Tempest, The Illustrious Blacks and Splore regulars The Ragga Twins amongst the international artists and home-grown goodness in the form of Fly My Pretties, Troy Kingi and Pitch Black. 


13—15 March 2020

Think nothing much happens in New Plymouth? Think again. Once again, WOMAD is set to bring the best in music, art and dance together in what’s going to be a bloody good time. This is a culture festival with many different settings up for exploration. Get amongst their Kunming Garden to find your inner zen or hit up their global village where you can eat your way around the globe with international cuisine. You’ll be kept busy with art installations, site performances and workshops as well as grooving to the epic tunes of “the world’s festival”. Among the acts this time will be Ziggy Marley, Albi & The Wolves, Blind Boys of Alabama, Laura Marling, King Ayisoba and Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita.


21 March 2020

Wellington’s waterfront is in for a treat. 2020 sees Jim Beam Homegrown continue its stellar record of showing Wellingtonians how to party. Every year the line-up gets better and better, so we’re expecting no less for their next celebration of Kiwi music culture. With the likes of Shapeshifter, LAB, Stan Walker, Shihad and The Black Seeds gracing the stage in front of 20,000+ fans it's going to go off. Setting new sell out records every year in their five-stage waterfront party, reserve your tickets now to ring in the end of summer in the nation’s capital. 

Want to rock a new look this summer? Check out the five hair trends set to take over in 2020.

Image Credit: Aditya Chinchure

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