Nestled in beautiful Tapapakanga Park, between the trees and the sea at Orere Pt, Splore festival became annual for the first time this year, and it seems the move was a very successful one.

Organisers seemed to have opted for less of a carnival vibe and more of a futuristic theme this year, particularly when it came to the art installations and stage dressing.

But happily they still place just as much importance on showcasing all areas of creativity - Munchies dance troupe and Top of the Heap's eye-popping circus tricks atop piles of furniture deserve particular mention - as well as music.

American funk artist Roy Ayers' grooving music kicked off the main stage on Friday night, and encouraged the crowd to shake off the laziness of the sunny afternoon. Deltron 3030 followed, featuring Kid Koala and rapper Del the Funky Homosapien. Kid Koala also manned the DJ stage in the early hours of the morning, and showed off some impressive acrobatic skills.


British EDM duo The Correspondents proved to be the highlight of the evening though, with leading man Ian Bruce completely owning the stage with his boundless energy - his ability to stagedive while rapping a million miles a minute deserves a medal.

Come Saturday afternoon it was the Kiwi acts who shone. SJD and AHoriBuzz both showcased new material to swimmers and dancers alike, before The Phoenix Foundation brought their luxurious grooves to the stage, mixing mellow afternoon noodling with their more climactic hits like Bob Lennon John Dylan, and Buffalo. Trinity Roots got some good crowd skanking going with a blend of unfamiliar new material from their upcoming album, and hits from Home, Land, and Sea.

But it was Australia's The Cat Empire that took things into the party zone as the sun set, and despite their unusually quiet volume, their energetic ska-with-a-twist got people jumping - while throwing around giant floating white balloon balls.

Rising Californian RnB star Tinashe made for an exciting change of pace, with her better-than-Beyonce dance moves, and snappy rapping.

But the Splore gold medal this year goes to Auckland-based outfit Weird Together. They were brilliant at last year's festival, but their headlining main-stage slot on Saturday was a step up. Nick Dwyer's dancathonic DJ moves led a crew of 12 through a slick, pulsating, and wildly entertaining world music mash-ups.

They created a brass-dropping, head-popping, smile-inducing atmosphere that felt like the epitome of Splore's friendly, adventurous, community-spirited aesthetic.

What: Splore Festival
Where and when: Tapapakanga Regional Park, February 20-22
Reviewers: Lydia Jenkin and Rachel Bache