The Nelson Arts Festival has just released its 2019 programme, set to energise the city with a range of theatre, music, dance, circus, writers and visual arts.

This year, the Festival kicks off with the Mask Parade & Carnivale on Friday 18 October.

Once again, the Festival has searched the world to find the perfect shows for Nelson audiences, hailing from USA, Germany, Scotland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as well as spotlighting Nelson’s own Bhutanese, Colombian and Sri Lankan communities. 

A highlight for 2019 is sure to be the return of Pic’s Piki Mai, with its spectacular projections on the Cathedral and Church Steps, on every night for free.

The 2019 programme also includes the charming tale of Mama and her unexpected new best friend in Still Life with Chickens; the powerhouse sass of Tami Neilson; the gentle wonder of theatre for babies with Up and Away; the stunning prowess of Footnote New Zealand Dance’s The Clearing; the all-ages slapstick hilarity of Kaput; the charm of Witi Ihimaera speaking about his second memoir, Native Son; and the non-stop wit, energy and yodelling of the tenacious Topp Twins, who were at the very first Festival in 1995.

This year, the re-vitalised readers and writers programme has a new name – Page & Blackmore Pukapuka Talks – scheduled over Labour Weekend.

Festival Director Charlie Unwin is particularly excited about the 2019 programme, “As New Zealand’s longest-running annual regional arts festival, Nelson Arts Festival has become part of the fabric of our Smart Little City, creating shared experiences and memories that will linger for years to come.”

The full programme is available at, or you can pick up a free Festival guide at the Nelson City Council Customer Service Centre, Theatre Royal, Page & Blackmore, Nelson i-SITE, Elma Turner Library, plus cafes and retail spaces throughout the region.