First Whangārei Fringe Festival Ready To Light Up The City’s Nooks And Crannies In October

Press Release – Whangarei Fringe Festival

The programme for Whangārei’s first Fringe Festival is now live, and sets the stage for an eclectic, entertaining 17 days when the festival kicks off on October 10.

A total of 88 creative events (some running for multiple days) will light up the nooks and crannies of Whangārei across a wide range of genres: art, theatre, comedy, music, poetry, circus, drag, cabaret, outdoor escapades, family events and much more.

The festival (October 10-26) will fill traditional arts venues and little-used spaces with the work of creatives from Northland and further afield. Locations range from art galleries, the library and community halls to disused shops, a church and a former nightclub.

Co-founder and visual artist Hayley Clark says the festival’s kaupapa is about lighting up small spaces with arts and entertainment.

“Our city is bursting at the seams with creative talent, and the Fringe concept gives artists an excuse to rip away the mundane and create something quirky and experimental. We’ve been overwhelmed by the number of people who’ve registered to present work at the festival. It reinforces how amazing our performing and visual arts community is,” she says.

“Fringe shows are small, sometimes offbeat and usually surprising. They’re affordably priced too, so it’s a great chance to see a show you wouldn’t normally consider. It will pay to book early, because venue capacities are limited and shows will sell out.”

Whangārei Fringe Festival’s major public event is Hātea Me Hearties! (October 11, 11am-2pm), a free buskers festival of musical and theatrical busking around the Hātea Loop. It will feature a travelling stage of madcap musicians making their way around the loop, previews of Fringe shows, and activities for kids.

Nearly two-thirds of the Fringe’s events are being staged by locals, and national and international performers are heading to Whangārei too. Among them are Auckland-based comedian and “Snapchat Dude” Tom Sainsbury, the Edinburgh Fringe hit Bald Man Sings Rihanna, and Klingalong, a singalong event held in languages from Star Trek, Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones.

The Fringe crew is breathing life back into two disused buildings for the festival. The disused Stanley Marine warehouse (Reyburn House Lane, next to Storytime in the Town Basin) is getting a spruce-up and being rigged to accommodate circus acts, complete with aerial silks and hoops. At 25 Bank St, formerly home to Joji’s Gallery and Chaos Club, a space is being renovated to become Fringe After Dark – the festival’s comedy venue.

The festival hub is located at ONEONESIX (116 Bank St), once a disused church that now operates as a permanent arts and community events space. Festival co-founder and ONEONESIX trustee Laurel Devenie says Fringe festivals are a vital platform for artists to test and develop new work.

“Like Fringe festivals all around the world, we’re presenting a mixture of established shows and works in development. Most of our local performers have never participated in a Fringe before, and we hope they’ll be encouraged to take their work further afield after Whangārei Fringe,” she says.

“The teams behind the Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin Fringes have mentored us in getting this festival off the ground, and we see it becoming an annual event – another pou on New Zealand’s Fringe circuit. It’ll also encourage more Kiwi creatives from around the country to bring their work to Whangārei each year.”

Running small shows works in the Fringe’s favour when it comes to Covid-19 safety. Almost all venues seat fewer than 100 people, appropriately distanced. Covid safety conventions will be in place, and volunteers are sewing Fringe Festival masks that will be available to buy at the venues.

A major grant from Creative New Zealand has enabled the festival to happen, along with support from Whangārei District Council‘s Event Development Fund, established to support new festivals.

At ONEONESIX, the festival hub and box office, people can pick up programmes and buy tickets. Programmes and ticket sales are also available at The Hub Information Centre, and online at Keep up to date via Facebook and Instagram: @whangareifringe

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