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.
We think it's fair to say that we can't wait to see the back of this year. 2020 has been a testing time, to say the least, so we can't wait to wave it goodbye. So, let's end the year with a bang—show 2020 the boot, doing what we know best—throwing an epic party.
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 some family-friendly weekends in the sun, 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 Benee, Fat Freddy's Drop, Shapeshifter, L.A.B 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 202o
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 Six60, Fat Freddy's Drop, BENEE, The Phoenix Foundation, Shihad plus heaps more.
29—31 December 2020
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 tenth year, the line-up is an epic mashup of Kiwi talent. Think L.A.B, Shapeshifter, The Upbeats, Pendulum Trinity and Avondale Bowling Club 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.
3 January, 5 January 2021
After expanding from its home in The Mount into the South Island’s Nelson Bays, New Zealand’s biggest festival Bay Dreams 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 3, before bringing the good vibes down south to Nelson on January 5. And while international acts can't make it this year (thanks COVID) there is still an epic line-up to get amongst. From Flume, Pendulum Trinity, Peking Duk DJ Set, Katchafire and heaps more. It's going to be a gooden, 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.
3—10 February 2021
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, Chill lounge 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.
22—24 January 2021 Raglan
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 eco-focused music festival takes place at Wainui Reserve with an eclectic mix of music, art, yoga, dance, food and bevvies. They'll be celebrating their 20th birthday in style with a cracking line up. Joining them will be Fat Freddy's Drop, Ladi6, Macky Gee, Mako Road, Montell2099 and more. That'll be one summer weekend not to be missed.
27 January—1 February
Ever wanted to go to Burning Man Festival in America? Well, we've got the next best thing. Kiwiburn is a participatory festival, where you bring and make the things that you want to have at the fest. There are no central stages or headline acts, no queues, just a series of surprises—exciting, right? There will be no money exchanged for anything at the event as every performance and art piece is there because somebody has decided to make it, so if you're artsy, it's the perfect place to get your creative juices flowing. There will be a variety of music, art installations and people in costume, neon lights, fire spinners, drummers, random surprises, dancers, free spirits and healers and things you've probably never seen before. We can't promise you who'll be playing, but we can promise you'll have a blast!
6-7 February 2021
If you love a bit of roots, rock and reggae then pack up your things and head to One Love Festival—one of NZ's most popular and vibrant festivals. Known as the largest reggae festival in the Southern Hemisphere, it's one not to be missed. There was a bangin line-up last year and we promise you won't be disappointed with the 2021 line-up either. Featuring Fat Freddy's Drop, L.A.B, Katchafire, Kora, Sean Kingston and heaps more. It's going to be chill AF, so be sure to get amongst it.
12-14 February 2021
Become a pirate for the weekend at Shipwrecked—a boutique music and arts festival that is sure to capture your heart. Nestled between three lakes in an idyllic landscape not far from the hum of Auckland, the Shipwrecked Festival site at Te Arai has been lovingly curated over the years to transform into a spectacular playground. Taking inspiration from the European festival scene, with uniquely Kiwi vibes–it's going to be an unforgettable experience. Grab your pals and come together to celebrate and immerse yourself into a weekend of underground music, visual and interactive art, nature, and life itself.
26—28 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 2021 line up is, as always, exciting. Shapeshifter will be shaking up the main stage so make sure you get amongst this free-spirited extravaganza. PS. We'd start planning your costume now if we were you.
12—14 March 2021
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"
17-21 March 2021
As well as promising a cracking line-up, epic workshops, wellness classes, comedy, poetry, markets—the list goes on, Earth Beat Festival focuses on sustainability and believes that we should care, respect and show gratitude towards Mother Earth—and we couldn't agree more. Show your love at this zero-waste fest by celebrating sustainability and new ways of living and learn about permaculture, regenerative planting and much more. The festival also holds strong māori values and hosts a variety of workshops for you to get amongst—think hangi and Treaty of Waitangi workshops. The best part is, this diverse event is just 75-minute drive from Auckland on the beautiful shores of the Kaipara. It's one not to be missed!
While you're travelling the country, why not take in one of these amazing Kiwi road trips.
Image credit: Aditya Chinchure