More than 130 events due to be performed in Whangārei during November have been cancelled after organisers of the Fringe Festival were forced to pull the plug.
The usual culprit – Covid – was behind the decision to cancel the 2021 event, after the organising team had postponed the October date.
It was to be Whangārei's second Fringe Festival after a successful debut last year.
The team, including co-founders Laurel Devenie, Hayley Clark and Georgia-May Russ, had been working to reschedule the postponed festival towards the end of 2021.
But level 3 lockdown in Northland, Auckland and Waikato have meant that is no longer possible.
"We held out hope for as long as we could, but Delta's long tentacle has put an end to Whangārei Fringe 2021," said Clark.
"We fully support what the Government's doing to keep Delta at bay until as many people as possible are vaccinated.
"We're just really disappointed that we can't put on a buzzy, busy festival for Northland audiences, and we're gutted for all the artists who've worked so hard on their events."
The festival programme, comprising 134 events, was about to launch when the August lockdown occurred.
Theatre highlights included Morgana O'Reilly's solo show Stories About My Body; Hokianga Meets Chic, a new verbatim autobiographical work starring Noa Campbell and directed by Puti Lancaster; TūRongo Collective's Nohopuku, which takes audiences into the world of an indigenous child in the mental health system; and award-winning Kiwi sci-fi drama Alone.
The comedy lineup was to feature the likes of Chris Parker, Brynley Stent and Tom Sainsbury, alongside local talents, an award-winning comedy cabaret, and comedy theatre hit Boom Shankar.
Other events spanned music, circus, Queeraoke, art, dance and digital technology. More than half the events were by Northland creatives, and the rest from Auckland and around the country.
"To us, Fringe is all about discovering heaps of weird and wonderful events in a city-wide celebration," Clark said.
"That can't happen unless we're in level 1, so we've accepted it won't happen this year, and will put our energy into creating an equally exciting festival next year. A fresh start is probably the best thing for everyone in 2022."
Whangārei Fringe Festival 2022 is scheduled to run from September 30 until October 16.
Also postponed until next year is Art'n Tartan, which was due to take place in November.
The organising committee had received record entries for the 2021 competition and Art'n Tartan committee chairwoman Claire Drake said they wanted to put on a great event that Waipū and the surrounding areas could enjoy after the difficulties of the pandemic.
"Sadly, we did not anticipate the impact of Delta, and the uncertainty that it would create. It is now clear that holding a show inside for 400 masked people in mid–November this year is simply not going to be possible or wise.
"We have therefore decided to postpone the shows until July 15 and 16, 2022, with pre-judging scheduled for Saturday, June 11, 2022."
All 2021 entrants will be entered automatically in the 2022 Art'n Tartan Awards if they wish. There will also be spaces for additional entries in 2022, which will open in early December.
Full details of the 2022 Art'n Tartan event will be posted on the Waipū Museum website, via Facebook and in other local media.
Ticket refunds will be available through Eventfinda or the Waipū Museum.
"We are very disappointed that the many wonderful creations submitted for 2021 will not now be shown this year, but we hope all designers, artists, models and members of the audience will support the reasons behind our decision and look forward to joining us again in 2022," said Drake.
• Further casualties include the Bay of Islands it! Festival and Fireworks Spectacular, both set for November. Whangārei's December A&P Show is awaiting level announcements before organisers decide whether to continue.