Your essential guide to the upcoming music festival season.
Festival season is finally upon us, and with so many happening over the summer months, it can be hard to know which ones to spend your Christmas bonus on. Do you prefer urban festivals over camping beneath the stars? Are you looking to see your all-time favourite acts, or maybe discover a few new ones? Here's your guide to everything that's happening. Read on and book your tickets before they're all snapped up.
RHYTHM AND VINES
Rhythm and Vines has toned it down a little this year, with organisers keen to avoid a repeat of last year’s riots. Camping has been moved onsite among the vines at Gisborne’s Waiohika Estate and is no longer BYO. The party will still go for three days with acts performing across three stages, and the waterslide is still the quickest way to get from the top of the Vines Arena to the bottom of the Rhythm Arena. Comedy club ‘Giggle & Vines’ is a new addition to the line-up, so head along in between the music to check out some of the best local comedians. – Ellen Falconer
Headliners: Angus and Julia Stone, Dave Dobbyn, Mac Miller, David Dallas.
When: Tuesday December 29 – Thursday December 31.
Where: Waiohika Estate, Gisborne.
Long-running New Year’s festival Northern Bass is back again after a sell-out year in 2014. It’s also bigger than ever – expanding to a three-day format, which sees it kick off earlier than usual. Once again, it’ll be taking place up North in Mangawhai, and fans can expect some of the best local and international acts around. Organisers have also said they plan to roll out new initiatives this year to combat waste and encourage recycling, which is always nice to hear. – Hussein Moses
Headliners: Shapeshifter, Skepta, Spor, Andy C.
When: Tuesday December 29 – Thursday December 31
Where: Worsfold Farm, Mangawhai
RHYTHM AND ALPS
Decidedly smaller than its sister-event Rhythm and Vines, two-day festival Rhythm and Alps looks set to make a comeback after last year’s run left organisers deep in the red. Expect a pretty diverse line-up of big-name house/techno DJs, hip-hop acts and Shihad to help even things out. There are various ticketing options for the event, which also include camping. Just be sure to pray to the weather gods for something good. – Hussein Moses
Headliners: Carl Cox, Charli 2na, Shihad, Sticky Fingers.
When: Wednesday Dec 30 – Thursday Dec 31.
Where: Cardrona Valley, Wanaka.
Not far from Auckland City, but far enough to leave the worries of 2015 behind you, Highlife NYE is set in Waiheke Island’s famous Stonyridge Vineyard. The dance music festival has a strict R22 policy, so expect a slightly older crowd than you might find at other festivals. We hope you have your tickets already if you were planning on going to this one, because it has sold out. – Ellen Falconer
Headliners: Esquire, Miss Kelly Marie, DJ Kue, Nice N Urlich.
When: Thursday December 31.
Where: Stonyridge Vineyard, Waiheke Island.
Over three days and four stages, Soundsplash will bring a pretty deep multi-genre line-up to Raglan. It’s a comeback gig of sorts, too, with the event returning to the beachside town after a seven-year hiatus. The all-ages event is also offering free tickets to those 14 and under (so long as they’re accompanied by a parent or guardian). If a more relaxed vibe is what you want from a festival, this might be the one for you. – Hussein Moses
Headliners: Sticky Fingers, The Black Seeds, State of Mind, Tiki Taane, Trinity Roots.
When: Friday January 8 – Sunday January 10.
Previously held at Vector Arena and Mount Smart Stadium, Westfest will see another venue change for 2016 – this time moving to Kumeu Showgrounds. Along with the change of scenery, things will also be downsized, with less focus on the metal heavyweight acts that dominated the first two years of the event. But, as the organisers put it themselves, “Think of Westfest 2016 as the punk rock little brother of Westfest that demands the party continues, no matter the obstacles.” – Hussein Moses
Headliners: NOFX, Refused, Hatebreed.
When: Saturday January 30.
Where: Kumeu Showgrounds, Auckland.
Laneway Festival has a knack for booking young, exciting acts just as they're cresting the mainstream. Headliners Beach House and Grimes will draw big crowds, but it's acts like The Internet, Shamir, Leisure and Grammy-nominated Courtney Barnett that you will want to see before they get too big for our tiny island nation. The 2016 festival site has been expanded, though ticket numbers have remained the same, so expect more room for a few surprises from the Laneway team. – Ellen Falconer
Headliners: Beach House, Grimes, Purity Ring, Hudson Mohawke.
When: Monday February 1.
Where: Silo Park, Auckland.
This Waitangi weekend sees the return of One Love festival – an event that aims to celebrate the best in roots and reggae music. Tickets for the two-day event include both GA and VIP options (the latter of which promises front-of-stage access, an exclusive bar and, uh, a drinks holder). There’s also campsite access for out of towners. – Hussein Moses
Headliners: J Boog, Common Kings, Third World, Steel Pulse.
When: Saturday February 6 – Sunday February 7.
Where: Tauranga Domain, Tauranga.
Situated on the shores of Tapapakanga Regional Park, the three-day Splore festival has become a popular date on the summer music festival calendar. The line-up has been diversifying in recent years and this time there truly is something for everyone. If somehow the line-up still isn’t enough to tempt you, there’s plenty of onsite activities to explore, like the art trail, fresh water lagoon and a market. There are a myriad of camping options, from the free space that comes with a GA ticket, or, if you prefer the luxxe life, you can upgrade to tepee glamping. – Ellen Falconer
Headliners: Leftfield, Waxahatchee, Nightmares On Wax, The Ragga Twins, Tkay Maidza.
When: Friday February 19 – Sunday February 21.
Where: Tapapakanga Park, Auckland.
After a seven-year run in Rotorua, Raggamuffin found a new home in Auckland last year. The move turned out to be the right one, with the annual event attracting over 18,000 fans to Trusts Stadium. For 2016, organisers have stepped it up once again, scoring some of the biggest and best names in reggae and hip-hop. And with rumours of one more big-name act still left to be announced, this won’t be one to miss. – Hussein Moses
Headliners: UB40, The Game, Xzibit, House of Pain.
When: Saturday February 20.
Where: The Trusts Stadium, Auckland.
AUCKLAND CITY LIMITS
ACL is the new kid on the block, run by Big Day Out’s former NZ promoter Campbell Smith in association with international festival Austin City Limits. The multi-genre festival will see 40 artists perform across four stages at Western Springs Stadium. With its grassy fields and bountiful shade options, the lakeside park makes for an ideal location for an inner-city festival. The fancy wristband tickets have a microchip that can be pre-loaded with credit, which can be used on the free bus service to and from the festival, and to purchase food, drinks and merchandise once inside. – Ellen Falconer
Headliners: Kendrick Lamar, The National, Action Bronson, The Cold War Kids.
When: Saturday March 19.
Where: Western Springs Stadium, Auckland.
WOMAD festival brings rhythms, beats, grooves and dance moves from around the world to New Plymouth. Thanks to its relaxed environs and a range of activities on offer, the three-day festival promotes a family-friendly atmosphere. With a notoriously tough audition process to get on the books of the international festival, local promoters have put together a strong, diverse line-up of musicians from around the world. – Ellen Falconer
Headliners: Ladysmith Black Mambazo, St Germain, De La Soul, Calexico.
When: Friday March 18 – Sunday March 20
Where: TSB Bowl of Brooklands, New Plymouth
This time around, Homegrown bookends the 2016 festival calendar, taking place about a month later than usual. Keeping with tradition, though, there are over 60 New Zealand acts made up of just about every local mainstream act you can think of. Like previous years, you can expect this one to sell out. – Hussein Moses
Headliners: Shapeshifter, Stan Walker, David Dallas, Devilskin.
When: Saturday April 2.
Where: Wellington Waterfront.