Events & Festivals
Events & festivals in Nelson
Nelson is a lively place and has a small range of interesting events and festivals, initiated by creative local people keen to share their passions.
The Nelson Arts Festival
The Nelson Arts Festival is an annual event which brings together a range of international and national theatre, dance, music, writers talks, comedy, visual arts, community and family events. It also includes a colourful masked street parade, involving local school children, on the first night of the festival. Nelson city is a great place to be during the arts festival, with colour, music and drama occurring in surprising places all around the city.
Adam Chamber Festival
Nelson has a range of venues for concerts and gigs. The recently renovated historic Nelson Centre of Musical Arts, formerly the Nelson School of Music, is the main venue for the annual Adam Chamber Festival. This festival is NZ’s most exciting chamber music event, with international artists joining NZ’s best to perform in beautiful venues renowned for their acoustics.
The annual Nelson Jazzfest programme includes shows in a range of small and larger venues around the region, including free gigs in bars and cafes. Venues have included a historic house, a town square, an outdoor park, a vegetarian café, a country pub and a waterfront performance venue. Jams with established House Bands are part of the programme, as are popular local and national jazz musicians.
Nelson is the Craft Brewing Capital of NZ and the only place in NZ where hops are grown. The Nelson Marchfest event is a weekend of celebration of NZ craft beer, live music, food, wine and ciders. The event is held a Founders Heritage Park, a large indoor and outdoor museum in the city. This site includes an electric collection of buildings including a Hop and Beer Museum, dedicated to Nelson’s hop-growing and brewing history. As the name suggests, this event occurs in March.
NZ Cider Festival
Described as National Geographic as a "heaven for cider-seekers", Nelson is the perfect location for a cider festival. The NZ Cider Festival celebrates all things cider.
Nelson Buskers Festival
The streets of Nelson come alive during the annual Nelson Buskers Festival, when award-winning street performers from around the world amaze their audience with all kinds of jaw-dropping craziness. The programme consists of daily outdoor street shows, with families relaxing on blankets and cushions to enjoy the fun, to indoor ticketed shows. The Buskers Festival usually held in early February.
NZ Antique & Classic Boat Show
Lake Rotoiti, Nelson Lakes National Park, is the stage for the Antique & Classic Boat Show, which provides a weekend for boat-owners to show off their craft and compete for a range of trophies. These include trophies for the Best Sail Powered Craft, the Best Rowed Craft, the Steam Trophy and the best Jet Propelled Craft. In recent years, many Chris Craft boats have been amongst those on the lake, complete with Jackie Onasis-style headwear. This is a chance for classic boat enthusiasts to swap stories about their craft, and for on-lookers to enjoy the beauty and style of these vessels. If you are planning to attend, don’t forget your sand fly repellent and your beach chair!