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Around 200 people packed the Lake Wanaka Centre last night for the launch of the festival programme.
The festival takes place from Tuesday, April 2 to Sunday, April 7, in Wanaka, Queenstown and Central Otago. Other events are scheduled in the days leading up to the event.
Three of New Zealand's major arts companies are bringing shows to Wanaka: the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Royal New Zealand Ballet and for the first time in the town, the New Zealand Dance Company.
Festival director Philip Tremewan said the festival was "delighted'' to host the trio.
Theatre highlights in the festival include four award-winning New Zealand productions: The Road That Wasn't There, My Best Dead Friend, Wild Dogs Under My Skirt and Still Life with Chickens.
"We're very proud to present these four theatre works showcasing some of the best new works from New Zealand theatremakers,'' Mr Tremewan said.
Opening the music offerings is a special night of Icelandic music and documentary film Central to the Soul, which paints a picture of Central Otago through the eyes of touring artists and their audiences and will screen at Cinema Paradiso.
A highlight of the visual arts offerings, "Wai Water Wanaka'' is open from March 30 throughout the festival and explores New Zealand's water crisis and insights into the country's rivers, lakes and wetlands.
Aspiring Conversations, the festival's literary, science and socio-political debating sessions, returns.
Speakers include leading New Zealand water scientist Mike Joy, with Ngai Tahu kaumatua Sir Tipene O'Regan and artist, poet and commentator Greg O'Brien, tackling the freshwater crisis; historian Dame Anne Salmond, on first encounters between Maori and Captain Cook 250 years ago; public health expert and former World Health Organisation adviser Sir David Skegg, on New Zealand's failing public health system; Green Party co-leader James Shaw, on the need to move to a low-carbon economy; and peace-keeping with Major-General Dave Gawn and New Zealand Alternative founder Thomas Nash.
• Visit www.festivalofcolour.co.nz for full details of the programme. Tickets go on sale to the general public on Friday, February 22, via the website, or by calling 022 4 TIX NOW (022 4 849 669).