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Dunedin Arts Festival Launches 2021 Programme

It’s time to start planning for the best April ever with the reveal of the full programme for the 2021 Dunedin Arts Festival. From 6-25 April, the Festival guarantees that our city of Ōtepoti will come alive with the best the arts has to offer.

Key Dates

3 February Full programme at

Pick up a free Festival guide around town

3-28 February Early Bird discounted tickets available for most shows

6-25 April Dunedin Arts Festival 2021

Selection of images:

From 6-25 April, the 2021 Dunedin Arts Festival will bring an incredible range of music, theatre, dance, visual arts and community events to our city. The Festival has always prided itself as “a celebration of the excellent and the extraordinary” and with this year being its eleventh iteration, the challenge is to crank it up to, yes, eleven!

Highlights of the 2021 programme include the premiere concert of the music of Dunedin’s own Pixie Williams, with The New Blue; Dunedin’s own iconic band, The Chills, performing in Dunedin’s most iconic venue, Larnach Castle; the premiere season of New Zealand’s newest dance company, BalletCollective Aotearoa, with Subtle Dances complete with NZTrio live on stage; the premiere of Found in Translation with Julia Deans, Mel Parsons and Bella Kololo putting things to right about the meanings behind their songs; and the Festival’s biggest concert, Beethoven’s Big Bash, with Dunedin Symphony Orchestra, joined by extra musicians and a mass choir to perform Beethoven’s impassioned Ode to Joy at Town Hall.

Festival Director Charlie Unwin is definitely enthusiastic about the 2021 programme, “This is my first programme for Dunedin Arts Festival and it’s a real thrill to finally have it launched.”

“With the shenanigans of 2020, and the realisation that the Festival couldn’t go ahead in its usual October timeframe, we took the opportunity to totally rethink the schedule, and jumped at the chance to align ourselves with Dunedin’s thriving festival scene. With the move to April, we’re in the middle of Dunedin’s festival whanau – Dunedin Fringe Festival (18-28 March), Otago Rally (16-18 April), Wild Dunedin (22-28 April) and Dunedin Writers & Readers Festival (6-9 May). This is all part of our grand plan to assert Dunedin’s position as a “festival city”. The April timeframe also allows us to work closely with concurrent festivals in other cities: Auckland Arts Festival (4-21 March) and Festival of Colour in Wanaka (12-18 April).

“But the most important thing right now is our fantastic 2021 programme, and the barrage of New Zealand’s finest music, theatre, dance, visual arts and community events that will take over our city in April. I heartily endorse everything in the programme and encourage everyone to book early, book often, and try something new!”

Dunedin Arts Festival has an incredibly diverse, exhilarating, and non-stop programme where everyone is sure to find something to delight, challenge, entertain, educate and generally give them something to talk about.

Here’s the 2021 Dunedin Art Festival programme:

MUSIC: a concert homage to Dunedin’s own Pixie Williams with The New Blue; Julia Deans, Mel Parsons and Bella Kololo revealing the true meanings of their songs with Found in Translation; New Zealand Opera’s one-woman drama in a hotel room with The Human Voice; Dunedin’s iconic band The Chills, performing in Dunedin’s most iconic venue, Larnach Castle; powerhouse Tami Neilson exposing the feminism in country music with The F Word; ACE Brass bringing classical brass chamber music to the fore; pianist Jian Liu lulling us into the quiet of the night with Nocturne; the return of the much-loved series of recitals with Olverston at Six; Beethoven’s Big Bash where Dunedin Symphony Orchestra will be joined by extra musicians and a mass choir to perform Beethoven’s Ode to Joy at Town Hall; and some of NZ’s finest chamber musicians in a series of performances in St Paul’s at One.

DANCE: the premiere season of New Zealand’s newest dance company, BalletCollective Aotearoa, with Subtle Dances complete with NZTrio live on stage; the meeting of Māori and Western movement and theatre in Wairua; Red Leap Theatre’s wondrous interpretation of Janet Frame’s Owl’s Do Cry; Rodney Bell’s extraordinary tale of tenacity and determination in Meremere; and Cinema-Natyam’s exploration of the influence of traditional Indian dance on modern-day cinema.

THEATRE: The nationally acclaimed Wild Dogs Under My Skirt finally comes to Dunedin; OTHER [chinese] challenges the myriad of misconceptions about being Chinese in Aotearoa; Emily Writes’ hilarious and utterly true Rants in the Dark; the captivating story of a dog and her man with A Traveller’s Guide to Turkish Dogs; the brilliance of an incredibly talented comedy circus performer in The Artist; the premiere of local production Simple Acts of Malice about life in the time of plague; and the testimonies of people in tragedy in Toy Factory Fire; and for the littlest amongst us, their own chance to shine with Up & Away.

FREE EVENTS: Watch out for a bunch of dancing cleaners in Secrets in Your Streets; the beautiful and surreal acrobatics-in-a-tree with The Arboreal Aerialist; and the completely bonkers street-stunt specialists Rollicking Entertainment. Plus, don’t miss the retrospective photo exhibition of Your Festival through the years in the Meridian Mall.

VISUAL ARTS: Suite 20/21: Part Two featuring Alexandra Kennedy, Ed Ritchie, Justin Spiers and Octavia Cook at Dunedin Art Gallery; Tessa Barringer’s Sublimate at The Artists Room; Andy Leleisi’uao and Whenua at Milford Galleries; Glad You Found Me featuring Kylie Matheson at Gallery De Novo; The Early Years featuring Robert Macdonald at Fe29 Gallery; Arielle Walker at Blue Oyster Art Project Space; and Jo Ogier’s Plastic Tide at Moray Gallery.

Dunedin Arts Festival is incredibly excited to be presenting its eleventh outing and is extending the warmest of invitations for everyone to be part of the celebration. Together, the goal is to make Dunedin New Zealand’s best festival city.

Dunedin Arts Festival is one of New Zealand’s major arts festivals, inviting thousands of people to celebrate the excellent and the extraordinary in everything the arts have to offer. Every two years, Dunedin Arts Festival curates a comprehensive programme of live music, theatre, dance, visual arts and free community events, featuring this country’s leading artists and creatives.

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