A big bang, dancing Daleks, a soul singer beloved by rappers, a True Blood star in a one-man play, an Australian circus crew and Booker Prize winner Eleanor Catton are all included in the 2014 line-up for next year's New Zealand Festival.

The biennial event, running for 24 days from February 21 to March 16 at venues across Wellington, takes a typically eclectic approach with its new line-up, which includes 300 events ranging from arts to culture, music, literature and theatre shows.

The event kicks off with a big bang - literally - thanks to a giant party in Wellington's Civic Square that includes a performance by 200 young New Zealand drummers, 300 singers from community choirs, ensemble Strike Percussion and roots rockers Kora all on the same stage.

Perhaps the biggest drawcard is Beyond, a circus performance from Brisbane-based company Circa that will include eight dates during the festival. Described as an examination of the "human body's fragile and astonishing beauty'", performers claim to invert traditional gender roles while utilising everything from blindfolds to animal costumes and a Rubik's Cube.


Then there's the previously announced Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular, a celebration of the iconic BBC show featuring Daleks, monsters and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

Elsewhere, music highlights include two shows from Gainesville singer Charles Bradley _ a soul star rappers like Jay-Z love to sample, who was recently was the focus of the documentary Soul of America.

American singer-songwriter Neko Case, jazz singer Madeleine Peyroux, indie rockers Yo La Tengo and cabaret trio the Tiger Lillies will also be performing, while Kiwi stars Jon Toogood, Julia Deans, Jennifer Ward-Lealand and Tama Waipara are joining forces to interpret songs from the Jacques Brel songbook.

True Blood fans may want to check out Denis O'Hare - he plays Russell Edgington in the hit HBO show - in a different guise with his one-man play An Iliad, an adaptation of Homer's Iliad. For dance fans, Irish choreographer Michael
Keegan-Dolan and Liam O Maonlai from the Hothouse Flowers present Rian, Israeli dance company Batsheva offers up Deca Dance, and New Zealand artist Ross McCormack delivers Age.

Finally, several big-name authors will be involved with the festival, including Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert, Man Booker Prize winners Eleanor Catton and Tom Keneally, and Wild Swans author Jung Chang. Pre-sale tickets are available from October 25, and go on general release on October 31.

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