The Wairarapa will be buzzing this October with an incredible range of events covering the genres of dance, theatre, visual arts, film, circus, comedy, literature and music. Roll on Kokomai!

Ask Heidi Holbrook, the director for this year’s Kokomai Creative Festival, for her top performance pick and she’ll tell you it’s a bit like having to name your favourite child. It’s an impossible task.

But push her again on the subject and she’s happy to give you a hint on which of the 65 events being performed across the Wairarapa region from 13 – 22 October 2017 she will enjoy.

“It is a bit like your children … you aren’t allowed to have favourites! This year’s festival is the same. How can I choose out of the diverse performers we have coming from Germany, Switzerland and Ireland plus of course lots of local New Zealand talent?” says Heidi.

“Shows like PSS PSS (sponsored by Provincial), which is a beautiful, award winning show aimed at families featuring two modern-day clowns who take to the stage and play a unique and hilarious pas de deux through the universal language of gesture and look will be astonishing.  Then at the other end of the spectrum we have a truly one of a kind Eurosmash show – something we’ve never done. It features the band Die Roten Punkte who will appeal to fans of Spinal Tap, Flight of the Conchords and anyone who enjoys the B52s, Kraftwerk and the early Ramones.”

“Also returning this year are the hugely popular workshops run by successful local creatives and an incredible readers and writers festival organised by David Hedley of Hedley’s Bookstore, featuring the likes of Dame Anne Salmond and cartoonist Tom Scott.”

Heidi is responsible for the festival programme, which has been two years in the making. She has come to know what works and appeals to audiences here after successfully organising both the 2015 and 2013 Festivals. These featured events are held in Featherston to Pirinoa, the main towns up to Masterton and out to Tinui. The 2015 Festival attracted 5,500 people over 10 days of events with one of the highlights being the sold-out Julia Deans show - Both Sides Now - and another, the free Alice in Wonderland family events in Queen Elizabeth Park in Masterton and the Town Square, Martinborough.  

“This year’s free family events will be held in Masterton, Greytown and Martinborough and are brought to us by sponsor Jennian Homes, Wairarapa. Called Bloom it features thousands of identical pink plastic shards that let children and big kids connect, construct and deconstruct 3D installations with no boundaries or rules. Kids can create incredible forms, from alien gardens to igloos, and are only limited by their imagination. Interaction is the fuel for this collaborative sculpture experience and a great way to introduce children to sculpture and design,“ says Heidi.

“We’re only a small team delivering this world class festival but are so well supported by our Patrons and Friends of the Festival and the Wairarapa Arts Festival Trust,” she says.

 “This year I’ve selected acts from the New Zealand and Australian Performing Arts markets, from talking with other Festival Directors around New Zealand and internationally and from getting suggestions from the Edinburgh Festival,” says Heidi. “We’re very fortunate to work with the Nelson, Tauranga and Hawke’s Bay Festivals to bring these international acts to New Zealand”.

The full Kokomai Festival programme for 2017 was launched to sponsors and Friends of the Festival on the 31 August. Friends and Patrons are entitled to a priority booking period before general sales start on the 8th September at 9am. 

Tickets will be available at kokomai.co.nz.