New festivals for Taranaki

Four festivals packed with cabaret, comedy, music and theatre will deliver more entertainment to Taranaki than ever before.

The biennial Taranaki Arts Festival has had a contemporary makeover and has evolved into a series of four niche festivals.

Winter Fest, Spiegeltent Festival, Right Royal Cabaret Fest and Box of Tricks Festival will provide countless hours of award-winning entertainment to the region all year round.

“We will be delivering more entertainment and arts than we ever have before,” TAFT chief executive Suzanne Porter says.

“Taranaki will be alive with arts.”

The new structure sees two entertainment and arts festivals produced by TAFT every year, with Winter Fest and Spiegeltent Festival happening in 2019 and Right Royal Cabaret Fest and Box of Tricks Festival lined-up for 2020.  

“These festivals will help to provide a strong, year-long schedule of events in Taranaki – events that don’t compete with each other and look to reach different markets,” Porter says.

“Long term our vision for Taranaki is for us to become like Adelaide, which is seen as the events and festivals capital of Australia.”

Porter says the redesign comes after an international emergence of highly successful niche festivals – like comedy festivals, jazz festivals, and literary festivals.

The Taranaki Arts Festival will be the first festival of its kind in New Zealand to be repackaged into a series of niche festivals, something Porter is very proud of.

“Internationally, it’s the way of the future. Traditional arts festivals are evolving and we are seeing a series of niche festivals that cater to the different tastes within a community. It’s a very contemporary way of experiencing entertainment and arts.

“Back in 1991 TAFT led the way when it started New Zealand’s first regional arts festival, but times are changing and so are our audiences.

“It’s now time for us to lead the way again, and what that means is we will be in a unique position to offer audiences a fresh way to experience, enjoy and enrich their lives with entertainment and arts.”

Artistic Director for the four festivals Craig Cooper says Taranaki Arts Festival has always been a leader in the New Zealand arts sector, and at the forefront of arts practice in New Zealand.

“And this new structure is yet another example of the festival responding to the needs of its audience, while respecting its proud tradition of delivering the best arts experience,” Cooper says.

Having previously worked as festival director of Christchurch Arts Festival, associate director at Auckland Live, senior programme adviser and manager at Creative NZ, and assistant producer at Sydney Opera House’s Studio, Cooper is in a unique position to see the incredible potential in the new structure.  

“We can create four distinct identities for each of the festivals, each with a different look and feel, each targeting different tastes and interests.

“It’s like eating the degustation menu at a fine restaurant. We want to give you the very finest ingredients in portions just large enough to keep you looking forward to the next course – rather than just putting all the food together in a buffet and just saying ‘help yourself’.”

Cooper, who is also the director of arts for the Asia New Zealand Foundation, is already scouting for the best acts for the four festivals, having recently spent time at festivals in Adelaide, Edinburgh, Shanghai and Sydney.

“I’ll also be seeing the best New Zealand work at Auckland Arts Festival this March.”

Porter says the four festivals will feature entertainment that will be taken around Taranaki, to towns like Hawera, Inglewood, Urenui, and Kakaramea.

“The Regional Programme and the School’s Programme have been an important part of the Taranaki Arts Festival, and they will continue to be an important part of our new model,” Porter says.

The new structure has been well received by the core funders of the Taranaki Arts Festival, including Creative New Zealand, Venture Taranaki Trust, TSB Community Trust and the New Plymouth District Council.

“Since 1991 we have had incredible support from our partners. That support has allowed us to punch above our weight and continually deliver vibrancy to Taranaki. We’re looking forward to continuing those strong relationships,” Porter says.


Brought to you by the Taranaki Arts Festival

Winter Fest
August 15 – 25, 2019

This ten-day festival will blast the winter blues away and fill Taranaki with vibrancy. Expect a winter wonderland of ideas, words and stories told through an unforgettable collection of comedy, music, theatre and a literary programme.

Spiegeltent Festival
November 21 – December 1, 2019

The enchanting Crystal Palace Spiegeltent will rise on Puke Ariki landing and host a bevy of luscious cabaret, hilarious comedy, excellent music and award-winning theatre.

Right Royal Cabaret Fest
June 25 – 28, 2020
The Right Royal Cabaret Fest was so popular in 2018 that it’s now a permanent fixture of Taranaki’s event calendar. Expect four days jam packed with bold cabaret and fabulous music.

Box of Tricks Festival   

September 26 – October 4, 2020
Box of Tricks Festival is an entertainment extravaganza for ages 1 to 101. Hosted in the school holidays this delightful nine-day event will feature something for everyone, from the big international shows, to glittering circus acts, exuberant dance and joyful theatre. This high-spirited festival will be a community favourite.

TAFT has presented 14 successful arts festivals since its inception in 1991. For more information on the history of the festival, visit