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2012 New Zealand International Arts Festival Wellington [Showtime]

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The 2012 New Zealand International Arts Festival brings 24 extraordinary days of arts events to Wellington from Friday 24 February to Sunday 18 March 2012.

With more than 300 incredible performances to savour, the Festival takes audiences from fairy tales to opera, from Shakespeare to salsa, from the Sahara Desert to a circus tent – and beyond.

See the 2012 Arts Festival programme of events below.

Around 300,000 festival-goers will converge on Wellington, one of the world’s great festival cities, to enjoy the best music, theatre, dance, literature and visual arts from New Zealand and the world.

Wellington's waterfront will be transformed for 2012, with a new Festival hub on the waterfront. Michel Tuffery’s vibrant multi-media artwork First Contact 2012 will turn Te Papa into a huge moving canvas every night at dusk; the Ronaldo circus dynasty’s vintage Big Top will be pitched on the foreshore for Circenses; a giant acrobatic spectacle involving two huge wheels will bring crowds to Waitangi Park and our home-grown Spiegeltent, the TelstraClear Festival Club, will be set right in the heart of the action in Odlin’s Plaza. has been covering this bi-annual event since 2000 and in 2012 we once again feature full information on every listing. Keep an eye on this page for updates during the 2012 Arts Festival.

Tickets are on sale now from Ticketek and the Festival website Tickets for most shows start at $38-$48 and there are many free events and great value packages.

The 24-day festival has a similar budget to the 2010 festival, with more than 300 performances and about 140,000 tickets. But it has more individual shows and events - 120 compared to 103 last year.

The biennial New Zealand International Arts Festival is New Zealand’s largest cultural event. The Festival has been connecting audiences and artists for 26 years. In 2010, the Festival attracted more than 1000 artists from 35 countries. 290,000 people attended more than 300 Festival events.

2012 NZ International Arts Festival

The TelstraClear Festival Club

The TelstraClear Festival Club Tent returns for the 2012 Festival – pitched at the heart of the action in Odlin’s Plaza on Wellington’s waterfront. Check out live music in the evening, then catch late-night theatre cabaret spectacular Cantina, or hang out in the bar. Open from early evening, the Club precinct is the perfect place to soak up the Festival atmosphere, meet before or after a show, grab a drink and a bite to eat, and mingle with visiting artists, crew and performers.

Acts in the Festival Club include: The Topp Twins, Tubular Bells For Two, An Emerald City, Cantina, Kimmo Pohjonen, First Aid Kit, The Phoenix Foundation, James Hill and Tiki Taane.

2012 New Zealand International Arts Festival highlights include:

- The UK’s dynamic young choreographer Hofesh Shechter with Political Mother.

- Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s TeZukA, inspired by legendary Japanese manga artist Osamu Tezuka. Cherkaoui’s Sutra was a highlight of the 2010 Festival.

- One of New Zealand’s greatest living artists, Lemi Ponifasio and his company, Mau, with his provocative new dance work, Birds with Skymirrors.

- Acclaimed British all-male Shakespeare company, Propeller, presents two productions, Henry V and The Winter’s Tale.

- French artiste extraordinaire James Thiérrée (The Junebug Symphony, Bright Abyss) returns to the Festival with Raoul.

- Innovative UK company Kneehigh’s dark and visceral fairy tale, The Wild Bride.

- A rarely performed Stravinsky double bill, Oedipus Rex and Symphony of Psalms, performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra with The Chapman Tripp Opera Chorus of the NBR New Zealand Opera.

- The Barefoot Divas, five indigenous women performers, including Whirimako Black and Maisey Rika, perform their songs and tell their stories for Walk a Mile in My Shoes (one of the Town Hall Gigs).

- Other Town Hall Gigs include Tinariwen, Bon Iver, Sharon Shannon Big Band, Cubano Be! Cubano Bop! and the newest addition to the line up, Death Cab For Cutie.

Writers and Readers Week (9-14 March)

Writers and Readers Week brings leading commentators and writers to Wellington from 9-14 March. Writer and academic Germaine Greer, widely regarded as one of the most significant feminist voices of our time; Australian environmentalist, scientist and author Tim Flannery; three-time Pulitzer-Prize winning author Thomas Friedman; Man Booker Prize-winner Alan Hollinghurst; Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbø and New Zealand’s own Margaret Mahy are among the impressive international and national line-up.

The full Writers and Readers Week programme will be announced on 26 January 2012.

Visual Arts

Contemporary New Zealand sculpture at City Gallery; the 2012 Adam Portraiture Award at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery and internationally acclaimed Mexican artist, Teresa Margolles, at the Dowse Art Museum.

Download the 2012 NZ International Arts Festival Calendar [PDF, 205KB]

Date 24 Feb 2012 (Fri) - 18 Mar 2012 (Sun)  
Time Various - see individual events for times 
Venue Various Wellington venues 
Address All Wellington Region  
Cost Ticket prices vary, plus there are a few free events 
Bookings Online at or Ticketek (04) 384 3840. Please note: Ticketek booking fees apply.  

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