Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search


Get Ready To Face The Music At Gardens Magic 2021

Wellington City Council is pleased to announce the exciting line-up for its iconic Gardens Magic 2021 event, which has something for everyone – young and old, near and far, cool and classic, and all those in between.

The iconic annual concert series returns to the Soundshell for three weeks, where every year thousands of Wellingtonians head along with a rug, a picnic, friends and whānau for an evening of free entertainment from some of the best local talent around.

With over 100 performers, stunning light and art installations, a UV zone, bubbles, disco balls and more transforming the beautiful Botanic Garden, it’s not surprising this is one of the highlights on the capital’s calendar says Mayor Andy Foster.

“Gardens Magic is one of Council’s longest, most successful and popular events, and one we’re very proud of. Not only has it provided free entertainment, a shared experience, and wonderful memories for so many, it has also been a supportive training ground for new talent, and an international launching pad for some.

“It’s also so rewarding to see diverse cultures and demographics all coming together as one community in one space.

“Gardens Magic is a personal favourite of mine. As a family, we’ve been to Gardens Magic countless times. I love coming together as a community, the relaxed atmosphere, and enjoying a picnic to great Kiwi sounds in the stunning, yet intimate setting. Gardens Magic is a great way to start any year.”

The 2021 programme caters for a wide range of tastes – from jazz, indie, rock, and pop to Māori, Americana, folk, blues, electronica, world music and more. It includes diverse top talents such as Glass Vaults, New Zealand Opera, WAI, Wellington Brass Band, Darren Watson, and the long-awaited return of legendary garage funksters OdESSA.

OdESSA kicks-off the event series on Tuesday 12 January, and front man Matthew Pender is excited about returning to the stage that he recalls so fondly.

“Some of my favourite memories as a performer have been at Gardens Magic over the years. There’s just something so special about it – it’s a shining part of summers in the capital.

“OdESSA was lucky enough to play Gardens Magic twice before – in 2006 and 2008. The 2006 one was a few months after our album Oak Park Avenue had come out. The 2008 one is still one of my favourite memories with the band. The crowd was HUGE, and it was a beautiful, happy atmosphere.

“This performance will be the first time OdESSA has played live together for over 11 years. It feels great to play these songs again. Not everyone from the past line-ups could make it, due to COVID-19 and all of that, but we’ve got some of the most exciting local young players involved with us now and we’ve added a lot of new things, like horns and new arrangements. It’s genuinely very exciting!”

Helena Cvitanovich from upcoming youth band Girl Scout Cookie adds: “Watching Gardens Magic in the past has shown us the type of welcoming and exciting culture gigs like that and many others in the Wellington region have to offer, and it’s definitely a scene we as a band would like to be a part of and give back to.”

The 50+ members of Supertonic choir and band closes the season with their epic tribute to Elton John on Sunday 31 January.

Spokesperson Briony Pentecost says: “Gardens Magic is such a fabulous blend of music and community, two things which sit at the driving core of Supertonic. We're excited to be part of the line-up this year, and giving back to an event and a community that has given so much to our members over the years.

“We hope the audience brings their best singalong voice and dress to impress in glittering Elton John garb to be in to win fabulous prizes!” she adds.

MJF Lighting have always brought the sparkle, lighting up the gardens since the event began. They are working with a new local company, Tungsten Projects, to refresh the 2021 magical lighting display by adding new elements alongside crowd favourites. A stunning UV bamboo grove is being created as well as an artistic tribute to our beautiful native birds. Kākā will feature especially, to honour the name Paekākā, meaning ‘realm or perch of the kākā, recently gifted by Mana Whenua for the area that includes the Botanic Garden.

An outdoor gallery of temporary public art will showcase works for sale by Wellington sculptors Jonathan Campbell and Campbell Maud.

Wellington City Libraries team look forward to another season of giving away pre-loved books and magazines each night before the concert starts.

See the full programme below or visit For daily updates, check the Council’s Facebook page.

Tuesday 12 January – Sunday 31 January 2021

Wellington Botanic Garden Soundshell

Free concerts: 8pm-9.30pm

Light display: 9pm-10.30pm

The Gardens Magic 2021 line-up is:

Tue 12 OdESSA

Your favourite garage funksters are back!

Wed 13 Glass Vaults / Fletcher Mills

Psychedelic dream-pop

Thurs 14 Jamie and the Numbers

Powerful Kiwi soul

Fri 15 Grumblewood / JAZ / Danica Bryant

Sweet folk & rock

Sat 16 Jim Wisp / Orangefarm

Indie pop rock with a classical twist

Sun 17 T-Bone / Across the Great Divide

Acoustic Americana meets Celtic spirit

Tue 19 Mighty Righteous

High energy modern funk!

Wed 20 Bad Hagrid / Pashtag

Crazy-good dancing tunes

Thurs 21 C-26 Salsa Band

Sizzling hot salsa

Fri 22 Wellington Brass Band

The best brass band in the land

Sat 23 New Zealand Opera

Opera under the stars

Sun 24 FRED

Psychedelic rock ’n’ roll

Tue 26 Shenanigans / Son de Cuba / Taikoza

Dance around the world

Weds 27 WAI / Aro

Māori electronica roots meets acoustic harmony

Thurs 28 Sky Canvas / Girl Scout Cookie

Fresh indie & future soul

Fri 29 HUMMUCIDE / Mel Stevenson

Kickin’ instrumental jazz

Sat 30 Darren Watson

NZ folk/blues legend

Sun 31 Supertonic

Epic choral tribute to Elton John

© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis: Dryzabone - Robert Conolly's The Dry

After the terrible devastation caused by last year’s bushfires, which prompted hundreds of Australians to shelter in the ocean to escape incineration and destroyed uncountable amounts of wildlife, The Dry has been released during a totally different kind of dry spell. More>>

Howard Davis: Benjamin Ree's The Painter and The Thief

The Norwegian filmmaker had long been fascinated by art thieves who commit high-stakes crimes with a delicate touch when a chance Google search in 2015 uncovered a botched heist in Oslo. More>>

Howard Davis: Anna Coddington Beams

Anna Coddington's thin, wispy vocals fit her songs beautifully, providing a wonderful lilting quality that pervades her latest album, producing instant ear worms. More>>

Howard Davis: Hit the Road, Jack - Chloé Zhao's Nomadland

Nomadland is perhaps the ultimately 'road' movie as it follows a group of dispossessed and disenfranchised vagabonds who find a form of communal refuge in camp sites and trailer parks after the economic contraction of 2008. More>>

Howard Davis: Byrneing Down the House - Spike Lee's American Utopia

Lee does an admirable job capturing Byrne's stunning live performance of his latest album, but the real star of the show is the staging. More>>

Howard Davis: The Phoenix Foundation Friend Ship Tour Docks in Wellington

A sense of local pride was certainly running high at the Opera House on Saturday night, as the lads ran through a tasty little set drawn mostly from their latest album Friend Ship (splash out for Xmas on the shocking pink extra-thick vinyl edition). More>>

Howard Davis: Avantdale Bowling Club

Auckland rapper and MC Tom Scott brought his stunning jazz-infused Taite Music Prize-winning project Avantdale Bowling Club to the Opera House headlining Wellington's 2020 Jazz Festival. More>>

Howard Davis: Troy Kingi Rules The San Fran

The award-winning Northland musician performed songs from his new record The Ghost of Freddie Cesar, the fourth installment in his 10/10/10 series - ten albums in ten years in ten genres. More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland