Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Work smarter with a Pro licence Learn More

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


Hamilton Arts Festival Toi Ora ki Kirikiriroa 2024



Bic Runga, Prima Facie, The Mockers, Jazmine Mary, Ridiculusmus Theatre, NZ Opera, and Tom Sainsbury are just a few of the big name artists and shows featured in the Hamilton Arts Festival’s eclectic 2024 programme.

The festival will see over 1200 artists converge on Hamilton Kirikiriroa from the 23rd Feb to the 3rd March next year. Music, theatre, dance, comedy, musical theatre and whanau-friendly shows are all represented across 46 ticketed events.

Festival Director Geoff Turkington says the festival will showcase some of Waikato’s most exciting creative talent alongside a curated selection of international and national artists.

“We’re thrilled to present a programme of works that is eclectic, relevant, and in some cases, thought provoking. However, first and foremost it is very joyful.”

Turkington says there’s an emphasis on making the programme accessible to all, with affordable ticket prices and a huge range of free non-ticketed experiences.

“We encourage people to come along and check out the free live entertainment while enjoying a diverse selection of food and beverages as the sun sets over the Grassroots Trust Festival Hub Stage from 5pm each night.

During the day you might witness an impromptu classical piano performance, meet a puppet called Paco or have an unexpected encounter with a drag queen as you meander through the gardens,” says Turkington.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

New Zealand music icon Bic Runga will headline the event, performing on the Rhododendron Lawn accompanied by a live band and supported by award-winning rising star Georgia Lines.

Bic Runga isn’t the only blast from the past on the programme with 80s new-wave rockers The Mockers supported by Rikki Morris also performing on the Rhododendron Lawn celebrating 40 years since the release of their massive hit Forever Tuesday Morning.

A spirit of collaboration runs through many of the festival’s music events.

Figaro! Figaro! Figaro! is a special one off collaboration between NZ Opera and Opus Orchestra celebrating some of opera's most cherished characters.

Big Band Jazz Spectacular brings together an all star line-up of current and past students and associates of Hamilton Boys’ High School. The show will feature a 40-piece jazz orchestra backing two of the most outstanding singers in the Waikato performing the biggest hits from Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald.

Fans of past festival contemporary folk artists Tiny Ruins and Nadia Reid are sure to be won over by Taite Music Prize winning artist Jazmine Mary, who’s 2023 album Dog received widespread critical acclaim.

2024 will also see the welcome return of a handful of Hamilton Arts Festival favourites.

One of the Waikato’s most iconic and beloved events Sunset Symphony will take place on the first Saturday of the festival with epic orchestral music provided by Trust Waikato Symphony Orchestra.

The perennially popular ‘Summer Shakespeare’, takes on the Bard’s classic comedy Merry Wives of Windsor with a modern reimagining ‘fit for a Joe Rogan podcast’.

Following the success of Vivaldi by Candlelight at this year’s festival, the Ancient Egyptian Garden is set to come alive once again with Classical Jazz by Candlelight from Ensemble Aaru and OCT Ensemble.

Hamilton Arts Festival Toi Ora ki Kirikiriroa also boasts a diverse programme of theatre.

Described as 'existential clowning' by The Guardian, Beautiful People is a hilariously dark comedy about ageing and death from British theatre company Ridiculusmus Theatre. The internationally acclaimed duo will also be presenting So… a lament on separation inspired by Brexit and the global pandemic.

Theatre lovers will be thrilled to see Prima Facie at the Clarence Street Theatre. This gripping one-woman show, based on the book by Suzie Miller tells the story of a criminal defence lawyer at the top of her game. Winner of the 2023 Olivier Award for Best Play, Prima Facie recently had a sell-out season at Circa Theatre in Wellington.

Stories About My Body is described as a ‘glorious fist-pump for body positivity’ and was the winner of ‘Best in Fringe’ at Whangārei Fringe Festival 2022.

New to the festival, Te Rēhia Theatre will present KŌPŪ, a cheeky ballad of a show sharing the songs young wāhine Māori as they navigate this world, ‘hairy nipples first’!

Performances are uniquely matched with venues - a delightful and hilarious theatre show celebrating bees (Mary Bumby’s Hive of Story) will take place in the English Flower Garden.

Flora and fauna is also a focus of the programme with Force of Nature crowning the opening night of the festival with Aotearoa chamber music celebrating the vital conservation work of Forest & Bird.

Elsewhere the mighty pekapeka take centre stage in Bats Incredible.

Environmental issues are also a theme in The Ice Cream is Melting, a whānau-friendly show sprinkled with aerial acrobatics, contortion and ice cream juggling.

The 2024 programme offers up plenty of other whānau-friendly content with the wondrous puppetry of Box of Birds, the Pirates of the Caribbean inspired Captain Festus McBoyle’s Travellin’ Variety Show and Spark LIVE, an immersive multi-sensory story exploring the incredible bond between a human and their horse.

Some of the country’s funniest comedians will be providing the laughs with Tom Sainsbury, Dai Henwood, Abby Howell, and The Birdman & Egg, nominated Most Original Comedy at Edinburgh Festival Fringe, all making appearances.

The Hamilton Arts Festival is regarded as the largest regional arts festival in New Zealand with its unique point of difference being its primary venue - the Hamilton Gardens - named as one of the top 1% of travel experiences in the world by the world's largest travel platform Tripadvisor.

The Hamilton Arts Festival Toi Ora ki Kirikiriroa is made possible by the generous support of:

Hamilton City Council, WEL Energy Trust, Grassroots Trust, Trust Waikato, The Mighty Waikato, Brian Perry Charitable Trust, Creative New Zealand, The Lion Foundation, Hamilton Gardens, King St Advertising, ACLX, Everest People, Lottery Grants Board, Cleland Hancox, Hobbiton Movie Set, First Credit Union, Village Food & Events, Waikato Times, Mediaworks, and Go Media.

Head to to check out the full programme. Multi-show buy discounts and layby options are available.

The Hamilton Arts Festival ‘24 programme listed alphabetically according to genre.


BIC RUNGA - LIVE SUNSET SESSION WITH GEORGIA LINES: With songs like Sway, Drive, Listening to the Weather and Something Good cemented in the canon of Kiwi music, Bic Runga is that rare artist that needs no introduction. Bic will be joined by a phenomenal live band and supported by award-winning Georgia Lines.

BIG BAND JAZZ SPECTACULAR: A big band jazz spectacular featuring an all star line-up of current and past students and associates of Hamilton Boys’ High School.

CLASSICAL JAZZ BY CANDLELIGHT: Back by popular demand, the Ancient Egyptian Garden comes alive by candlelight with classical jazz from Ensemble Aaru and OCT Ensemble. Featuring music by George Gershwin, NZ composer Philip Norman and much more.

FIGARO! FIGARO! FIGARO!: New Zealand Opera and Opus Orchestra take you on a musical journey celebrating some of opera's most cherished characters including Figaro, The Countess, and the ever-alluring Susanna!

FORCE OF NATURE: CELEBRATING 100 YEARS OF FOREST & BIRD: This gorgeous, rejuvenating performance of Aotearoa chamber music celebrates the vital conservation work of Forest & Bird.

JAZMINE MARY: Taite Music Prize winning artist Jazmine Mary plays idiosyncratic folk music that sparks melancholy and joy.

KŌPŪ: KŌPŪ calls you into to a cheeky ballad of a show sharing the songs of our young wāhine Māori as they navigate this world, hairy nipples first, following in the footsteps of our naughty nannies from the kāuta.

SONGS FROM THE ROAD: Local band, The Road Crew, reform for the first time since the pandemic. Observations of the ups and downs of the last few years are reflected in original songs that ponder slices of life along one big road trip.

SUNSET SYMPHONY: One of the Waikato’s most iconic and beloved events. For over a decade, Sunset Symphony has brought our city together to celebrate the best things in life… Glorious music, whānau, friends and food all against the stunning backdrop of a Rhododendron Lawn sunset.

THE MOCKERS WITH RIKKI MORRIS: Kiwi hit-makers The Mockers reform to proudly perform their pop gems including Forever Tuesday Morning, Swear It’s True, One Black Friday, My Girl Thinks She’s Cleopatra, Shield Yourself, and many more.

TO SHIVER THE SKY: Following the success of The Armed Man in 2023, Hamilton City Brass join forces with an epic local choir to perform the NZ premiere of Christopher Tin’s To Shiver The Sky. Conducted by Maria Colvin, and expertly arranged by Todd Smith, Hamilton City Brass will be joined by a festival chorus of 70 singers, a chamber choir, a children’s choir, and two outstanding soloists.

WOVEN: Deepen your understanding of Te Ao Māori and explore the invisible thread woven between us. Woven is an hour-long journey that blends ancient instruments, voice, waiata, dance, spoken word and projection.


BAT’S INCREDIBLE: Storyteller Tanya Batt and musician Peter Forster invite you into the twilight realm of the bat.

BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE: Described as 'existential clowning' by The Guardian, Beautiful People is a hilariously dark comedy about ageing and death from critically acclaimed Ridiculusmus Theatre. Beautiful People was awarded the Herald Archangel Award at Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2019.

MARY BUMBY’S HIVE OF STORY: A prophecy, a hive of story and plenty of cross pollination.Meet Mary Bumby, Aotearoa’s honey bee pioneer, re-imagined and returned to earth to re-awaken the bee-ing in humans.

MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR: The Summer Shakespeare is back! The Bard’s classic comedy of patriarchal norms and barely disguised misogyny gets a modern reimagining fit for a Joe Rogan podcast.

PRIMA FACIE: Tessa is a criminal defence lawyer at the top of her game and is loving it: defending, cross-examining, and playing the rules of the law to win. Winner of the 2023 Olivier Award for Best Play, this vital, witty, gripping one-woman show had a sell-out season at Circa Theatre, Wellington.

SO…: Two long-lost brothers overcome their differences while sorting through their late mother’s estate. Conceived during lockdown via Zoom, So… began as a response to Brexit and the pandemic, evolving into a lament on separation. Written and performed by the directors and founders of Ridiculusmus, a 30-year artistic partnership of international acclaim.

SOCIAL ANIMAL: The funniest show on four legs. Stephen Papps plays twelve characters - three of them dogs - in this gloriously funny tour de force.

STORIES ABOUT MY BODY: A glorious fist-pump for body positivity and the winner of Best in Fringe - Whangārei Fringe Festival 2022.

TALOFA PAPA: Come on a journey with your grandparents in the comfort of your jandals! Expertly shaping his audience's story using Samoan culture and mischief, Papa takes you by the hand and transports you to a world of kindness and compassion.

THE TEMPESTUOUS: A SHREW’D NEW COMEDY BY WILL SHAKESPEARE & PENNY ASHTON: Award-winning Comedian Penny Ashton (Promise and Promiscuity, Olive Copperbottom) presents her latest literary solo musical, sparking 13 characters into life in an Elizabethan tale of magic, meddling and puffed bull’s pizzles.


CHEEHOO! JANDALS TO JAZZHANDS: Weaving musical theatre with traditional Pasifika culture, Cheehoo! Jandals to Jazzhands is a celebration of the beautiful Pasifika talent we have here in the Waikato.

DEAF-DEFYING CUNNING STUNT: A cabaret performed by a nearly deaf singer - what could possibly go wrong?

DEEPLY UNPROFESSIONAL: Peak behind the curtain at a deeply (un)professional life in the theatre. Hilariously awful auditions, truly terrible jobs and everything in between.

SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD: This contemporary song cycle weaves characters and history together, illuminating the timelessness of self-discovery. From the producers of That Bloody Woman, Assassins, Dogfight and Urinetown.


FANTASTIC: THE BIRDMANN & EGG: Multi-award-winning duo The Birdmann & Egg bring you an out of this world circus comedy concert spectacular. The show was nominated as the Most Original Comedy at Edinburgh Festival Fringe and features plastic bag juggling, origami extravaganzas and a giant balloon finale.

GARDEN GIGGLES: Join Dai Henwood (7 Days, Taskmaster), Courtney Dawson (Celebrity Treasure Island), Nick Rado (Best Male Comedian NZ Comedy Guild Awards 2019, 7 Days), ‘Snapchat dude’ Tom Sainsbury (Wellington Paranormal) and Tarun Mohanbhai (Comedy Gala) for a night of world-class laughs.

LA SOUPCO: Award-winning comedy that takes on love, nautical trauma and buying Impulse for your mum. A nautical romance set in the wake of World War II, La Soupco was written by comedian Abby Howells (7 Days, Shortland Street) when she was eleven years old. No historical research, verification or corroboration was undertaken.


HE’S A REBEL: Join The Up-Doos for an evening of questionable dating choices and romantic misadventures with Mr Wrong. He's A Rebel celebrates the girl groups of the ‘60s and their iconic songs about the bad boys we hate to love, featuring a repertoire of hits including Leader of the Pack, Please Mr Postman and My Boyfriend’s Back.

RUTENE SPOONER’S THOROUGHLY MODERN MĀUI: Direct from their national tour, the award-winning ‘must-see’ (Stratford Press) cabaret finally hits the mighty Waikato this summer!


IYKYK: Footnote New Zealand Dance returns with IYKYK (If You Know You Know), an electrifying double-bill of contemporary dance works by choreographers Holly Newsome and Forest Kapo.

SCULPTURE MEETS DANCE: Encounter a contemporary dance troupe on a tour around the Boon Sculpture Trail in Garden Place and Civic Square.


BOON SCULPTURE TRAIL: With 23 temporary outdoor sculptures across eight public sites, the Boon Sculpture Trail will transform Hamilton Central into an artscape for everyone to enjoy!

THE ART OF SPIRIT: Craft your own personalised gin beverages using meticulously distilled essences and tinctures derived from the botanical plants in the Sustainable Garden.

THE INDIE MUSICIAN’S TOOLKIT: A symposium for independent musicians who want to learn the essentials of the music industry.

THE MYSTERY OF THE MUMMY’S CURSE: Festival favourites Apocalypse Lounge Room Break is back at the Hamilton Gardens with a new mystery. Can your group of 4-6 sleuths crack the case in an hour?

THIS IS KIWI - INDIGO FESTIVAL: This special free event brings together more than 300 performers proudly representing the many cultural groups that make up our beautiful community.

WHARENUI HARIKOA: The most vibrant and colourful wharenui you will ever see is coming to Waikato Museum!


BOX OF BIRDS: Experience the magical wonder of puppetry at the cutest little show in Aotearoa! Made especially for children aged 3 to 6 years and their caregivers, this gorgeous puppet show includes live music and interactive songs by award-winning theatre company Birdlife Productions.

CAPTAIN FESTUS MCBOYLE’S TRAVELLIN' VARIETY SHOW: From the ashes of a 25-year, non-illustrious rock ‘n’ roll career comes the unwashed, semi-toothed and slightly uncouth Piratical ‘cheese’ Captain Festus McBoyle.

SPARK LIVE: Experience an immersive multisensory story with things to touch, taste, hear, see and smell. This journey of love and hope explores the incredible bond between a human and their horse.

THE ICECREAM IS MELTING!: A silly, fun and sweet story told through the wonders of circus from The Dust Palace. This loveable whānau-friendly show is sprinkled with aerial acrobatics, contortion and ice cream juggling.

THE TWITS: The Twits by Roald Dahl, adapted for the stage by David Wood, tells the story of the spiteful Mr and Mrs Twit.

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland

Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.