Wellington: City comes alive as the arts come to town

Wellington’s reputation as the capital of cool gets a boost next month.
For The Birds which will be showing at the NZ Festival 2016 in Wellington. Photo / Supplied
For The Birds which will be showing at the NZ Festival 2016 in Wellington. Photo / Supplied

Just like the capital of cool, Wellington's New Zealand Festival has something for everyone in a full schedule of contemporary, classical and family-friendly experiences. Combine that with an easily walkable city, a culinary scene that will blow your socks off, and lots of city nooks and crannies just waiting to be explored, and you have an unbeatable getaway.

Here are some ways to make the most of the New Zealand Festival this summer.

The great outdoors

The Woman Who Forgot. Photo / Supplied
The Woman Who Forgot. Photo / Supplied

Nature and culture will collide at the New Zealand Festival. Enjoy an enchanting walk-through experience at Otari-Wilton's Bush Reserve as the sun sets over the city at the Wellington Airport Season of For the Birds, a celebration of light, flight and birdsong
Follow your smartphone through central Wellington on an immersive experience with The Woman Who Forgot, and for an outdoor concert on another scale, watch 60 orchestral musicians let loose in Civic Square in Sila: The Breath of the World.

Complement these with a visit to Zealandia, a walk up Mt Victoria, or a quick burst on some of the city's mountain bike trails.

Get your groove on

Two works by renowned dance choreographer, the late Pina Bausch, will be performed at the New Zealand Festival in what could be the last time the world sees these legendary pieces enacted.

Then swing by and celebrate the festival's 30-year anniversary with 15 of the world's finest jazz soloist and ensemble players at Swing Symphony No. 3 - Jazz at Lincoln Centre Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.

But before all of that, be sure to break out your freestyle dance moves at festival opener, Le Grand Continental. Keep your groove going with Wellington's lively nightlife scene - there's a dancefloor to suit everyone, even your Dad.

Family fun

Plant the kids on the toilet bowl ferris wheel and vintage motorbike merry-go-round at the free event Contact Festival Playground in Frank Kitts Park. This parent-powered junkyard fairground will also feature a food truck trailer park. Outside of the festival, the Wellington Zoo and a visit to Weta Workshop are sure to keep the kids entertained.

A worldly experience

Follow four filmmakers in Argentinian play Cineastas. This cinematic drama is set in Buenos Aires, and the story unfolds across a two-tier stage at Wellington's Opera House.
East meets west when Japanese artists Miyata-Yoshimura-Suzuki trio collaborate
with three of New Zealand's most explorative composers with shows in Lower Hutt and Wellington.

Argentinian play Cineastas. Photo / Supplied
Argentinian play Cineastas. Photo / Supplied
Modern Maori Quartet. Photo / Supplied
Modern Maori Quartet. Photo / Supplied

And for a taste of Aotearoa, catch some Kiwi classics as the Modern Maori Quartet perform across the Wellington region with four shows. Don't miss their phenomenal Te Reo version of Lorde's Royals.

And later, immerse yourself in New Zealand culture at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, and tickle your taste buds at international-inspired eateries around Wellington.

Be inspired

Bookworms and wordsmiths, hang on every sentence as neurosurgeons, filmmakers, poets and playwrights present at the New Zealand Festival Writers Week, then head to the waterfront to explore the Writers Walk, visit Wellington institutions Arty Bees and Unity Books, and settle in at cocktail bar the Library, to read fine literature with an equally wonderful beverage.

The New Zealand Festival runs from February 26-March 20 in and around Wellington. For more information, visit festival.co.nz.

- Spy.co.nz

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