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Newly unveiled Christchurch Arts Festival programme

Newly unveiled Christchurch Arts Festival programme a carnival of delights celebrating Ōtautahi’s creativity

Oversized puppets, vibrant digital street art, and some of Ōtautahi’s finest artists returning from across the globe will feature in the Christchurch Arts Festival 2019.

The just-released programme reveals the Festival will begin with a free opening spectacle, A Winter’s Tale along the Avon River in the central city on 26 and 27 July 2019. The Festival also features multi award-winning shows, performances, workshops, talks, a Ngāi Tūāhuriri/Ngāi Tahu Arts Market and hāngī for a thousand people.

This year’s festival will be the first for director Dr George Parker.

He says it is designed to celebrate Christchurch’s proud reputation for extraordinary creativity.

“Artists from Ōtautahi and Te Wai Pounamu have carved out a distinct local culture by breaking boundaries and testing new ideas and played a huge role in forging our distinct national culture. Now they’re working with the Festival to celebrate our city as a place of hope, inspiration and change, and a city of new beginnings,” says Dr Parker.

A Winter’s Tale will be a spectacular performance of light and sound led by Free Theatre that will begin with a pōwhiri from mana whenua down the Avon River in central Christchurch. The performance will provide an immersive experience along the new City Promenade beside the river and feature oversized puppets, masked performers, large-scale projection and special winter hospitality.

“It’ll be a mid-winter carnival that will bring our community together and, along with the rest of the programme, bring a sense of warmth, reflection and renewal to Christchurch as we make our way towards Spring.”

Other shows include The Clearing – a contemporary dance performance by acclaimed choreographer and Rangiora-raised Ross McCormack; Meremere – the award-winning extraordinary survival story of dancer Rodney Bell; Julia Deans, Bella Kalolo and Flip Grater performing alongside Bel Canto (the Burnside High School Choir they were once part of); Meet me at the Doghouse – a performance featuring the extraordinary alumni of Pacific Underground, and Wild Dogs Under My Skirt with Aranui poet, performer and author, Tusiata Avia.

George Parker says the spirit of manaakitanga will be alive and well throughout the festival.

“We’ll be embracing and welcoming our audiences with a wide array of performances. A highlight will be a hāngī, for up to 1,000 people which will be laid right next to our Festival headquarters at the Town Hall.”

George Parker says there’s already huge interest in the Festival.

“We believe in the power of the arts to transform people and communities and we know people will be inspired by the performers who are coming to Christchurch for the Festival and those that continue to make this a place of extraordinary creativity. We cannot wait for them to delight and surprise audiences.”

The Christchurch Arts Festival 2019 runs from 26 July to 4 August 2019. The full programme and tickets are available online at

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