In programming the shows for the arts festival, much thought is given to the performance space and the pairing of venue. It’s like matching a good wine with a meal, or mixing a craft gin with just the right soda for a full-flavour experience.
Pacific Crystal Palace Spiegeltent
A pop-up venue modelled on traditional 19th century Belgium travelling dance halls, the Pacific Crystal Palace conjures a magical atmosphere in a temporary location, transporting you into the dreams and memories of other worlds and yesteryears. The ideal venue for music and cabaret acts, as well as for acrobatic performances that are held in the round, the Spiegeltent lends itself to intimacy and a close-up experience of the artist not easily achieved in a conventional space. The set-up, with its integrated hospitality surrounds, allows us to create an oasis from the ordinary.
From the opening night with Songs for Nobodies to the festival finale Carnivorous Plant Society and Hopetoun Brown, we have an incredible line-up of contemporary music, comedy, cabaret, dance and children’s shows, with something on every night in the Spiegeltent.
Our Festival Garden (in front of the Spiegeltent) will be spectacular this year, framed by 30+ coloured-LED-lit bulk containers arranged as a light installation, and with Topkata’s stunning, festooned Nordic-style marquee providing an encompassing, enticing hospitality space, with ambient, warm, wood touches, Turkish rugs, art works and braziers. Along with delicious food offerings from The Huntess and Piku (including paua wontons, kumara wedges, steamed pork buns and a mean cream doughnut), there’ll be a lounging area, a coffee corner, and a purpose-built bar with a festive, mixologist-designed range of gin & tonics, and the finest local wines, craft beers, ciders and non-alcoholic sodas.
Not just for those with tickets to a show, the Festival Garden will be open to the public 5pm – 11pm each evening, with extended hours varying from 1pm to midnight, according to programmed shows. Keep an eye out for pop-up gigs and menu specials.
Blyth Performing Arts Centre
It’s a real privilege to have this splendid new architectural gem in our midst, just up the road from the Festival Garden at Iona College. The Blyth lends itself superbly to dance, acoustic music and theatre performances. It’s a beautiful space to sit and experience any show in – even from the very back seat you will hear every note, every word perfectly. Well-serviced, with ample parking, and a bar offering wine, beer, non-alcoholic sodas and food platters.
Here you can enjoy Project Prima Volta’s opera offerings in Scena; Le Moana’s incredible dance-theatre work 1918; eight poet laureates in their unique, unmissable sharing of work, Poemlines; and the festival’s commissioned transformative theatre piece, Freedom is Behind My Breath.
Napier Municipal Theatre
The Muni is a fantastic space for large-scale productions that require the technical and architectural sophistication of this iconic art deco building – in other words, a large stage with fly ropes, rigging capacity and height. It’s the only viable theatre in our main centres which can host a show such as By a Thread, where we require a minimum of 6 metres clearance for this beautiful performance to take flight and for the audience to appreciate the sense of scale and risk. Atamira Dance Company’s Pango is another prime example of a spectacular show in need of a venue with the largesse to host it. Furnished with all amenities and a hop, skip and jump away from Napier’s finest eating establishments.
MTG Century Theatre
Built in 1977 as a concert chamber, the Century Theatre has a real intimacy, despite the fact that it seats almost 350 people. It’s wonderful for music (particularly classical concerts like Cuentos de Espana and chamber music darlings Emily Sun & Gamal Khamis) and our Readers & Writers discussions, as well as theatrical performances such as MAMIL, Still Life with Chicken and Jane Doe, as it has great acoustics and interesting architecture that draws you in to the stage. Housed within the museum and gallery complex (with the library adjacent) in the hub of Napier’s art deco centre, this venue doubles as a brilliant opportunity to get a real dose of Hawke’s Bay arts, culture and heritage in one hit!
Streets of Napier
With the visionary redevelopment of the waterfront, recent refurbishments of some of the main streets, the growth of the arts quarter and a burst of interesting new hospitality offerings, not to mention it’s famous art deco buildings, Napier’s streets offer up a venue in themselves for all kinds of participatory experiences of arts and culture. Perfectly strollable, Napier’s streets link cultural precincts, such as the MTG, with seawall murals, with performance venues, from the legendary Cabana (steeped in 60 years of NZ music history) on Shakespeare Road to the fabulous new Paisley Stage near Clive Square, gathering in all those eateries and galleries between. We’ll be making the most of this ‘venue’ during White Night.
Arts Inc. Heretaunga
Without doubt one of the most attractive spaces to experience visual art in Hawke’s Bay. Gracious dimensions, wonderful Spanish Mission architecture, with the gift of being able to roam the space and gain different perspectives. During the festival, this beautiful venue right in the centre of town will house Wellesley Binding’s retrospective and in-process exhibition, In the Study. Part of Hastings’ cool East Block and arts precinct, there’s plenty to explore just metres from the door: art galleries, bookshops, artisan foods, coffee and craft, the best locale (and live music venue) in Hawke’s Bay, and our splendid iconic Opera House (currently under reconstruction). Not to mention Fringe in the ‘Stings, which takes place 11-13 October.
Waiohiki Arts Village
Possibly the most authentic art space in the regions, Waiohiki Village offers workshop, studio and performance spaces for emerging and established artists, fostering artistic interaction and collaboration, cultural diversity and genuine community alternatives. Close to the hub of EIT, two marae and the historic Otatara Pa, Waiohiki is a rich resource with unlimited potential, and as Pitsch Leiser describes it, “one of Hawke’s Bay’s best-kept secrets.”
Check out Waiohiki's Labour Weekend markets (there are three), and the Fire and Clay Night, amongst other events.
CHB Municipal Theatre
This beautifully restored heritage building in the heart of Waipawa (built 1910) is representative of a time when performing arts played an important part in our lives, and where local theatres were a pivotal hub for social and civic gatherings and community celebrations. There’s nothing like walking into an old traditional-style theatre space with its decades of history and watching a contemporary piece of live performance. In this instance, The South Afreakins and Children are Stinky.
One of the few remaining traditional cinemas in the region, Wairoa’s iconic Gaiety Theatre doubles as a performance space with plenty of character for theatre and music. We have no doubt Rob Ruha and Ria Hall will fill its generous proportions and scale with their powerhouse voices and music. The Gaiety Theatre sits right next door to the fantastic Westend Café overlooking the river.