Festival fun about to start

The Yak 52 team performs some aerial acrobatics at Warbirds over Wanaka  last weekend. Photo:...
Warbirds over Wanaka is back after its cancellation last year. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Now daylight saving has ended, and the nights are drawing in, it may be tempting to scuttle indoors like oversized hermit crabs.

There is a place for such behaviour and there will be plenty of time for that in the months ahead but determined sticks-in-the-mud will miss out on a vibrant extensive festival season in the South which is already in full swing.

The quirky and the cool have been celebrated in recent weeks in more than a hundred events marking the 21st birthday of the Dunedin Fringe Festival.

And while culture vultures are still catching their breath from that excitement, tomorrow we are straight into the Dunedin Arts Festival which will run until April 25.

It is described by organisers as containing a rich, diverse programme to satisfy the artistic cravings of almost anyone — jam-packed with theatre, music, dance, comedy and much more, and just the tonic the city needs to celebrate after a trialling year.

The programme’s cover image of singer Tami Neilson, poised to take punters on a romp through feminism and country music at the Regent Theatre on Saturday, captures the sheer joy of the fact we are "festivalling" at all.

Events of every hue were cancelled last year, including both of the above, and it is great to see them back on track. No doubt all festival organisers will have approached this year with some trepidation in case a large community outbreak of Covid-19 scuppers their plans.

It has been lean pickings for many performers in the past year and we are hopeful those who have cash to splash will make the most of what is on offer.

The now familiar fragility of our situation was highlighted by this year’s postponement of Warbirds over Wanaka, the popular airshow which would have been expected to attract about 55,000 over three days this Easter and inject more than $20 million into the regional economy.

Organisers expect it to be back next year, but they will be crossing their fingers over the existence of the transtasman travel bubble, conscious of the need for travellers from Australia to boost the domestic audience by about 5000.

In the meantime, everyone, no matter what their interests, should be able to find something to thrill them in the next few months with events including the Festival of Colour at Wanaka starting on April 12, the Otago Rally (April 16 to 18), Wild Dunedin Otepoti Mohoao and the New Zealand Festival of Nature (April 22 to 28), Dunedin Writers and Readers Festival (May 6 to 9), the New Zealand Gold Guitar Awards at Gore over Queen’s Birthday weekend following a week of country music celebration in the town, and the New Zealand International Science Festival in Dunedin (July 8 to 18).

Southerners have a reputation for late bookings, but oyster lovers bucked that trend by snapping up limited tickets to the Bluff Oyster and Food Festival to be held on May 22 within an hour of them going on sale in February. We hope that enthusiasm flows to the other events, many of which are free or low cost.

We risk becoming blasé about how lucky we are to be able to enjoy the freedom to attend such a marvellous array of events, compared with many people in Covid-ravaged countries, but the complementary cliche is that such freedom comes with responsibilities.

If you have symptoms which could suggest Covid-19, stay away, organise a test for the coronavirus and lay low. If you are well and are attending events, remember to scan in or record the time of your attendance in another way.

Revel in these riches, but not at a risk to others.

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