It’s almost that glorious point in Wellington’s calendar when the New Zealand Festival  (23 February – 18 March), the Performance Arcade (23-25 Feb, 1-4 March) the Pride Festival (24 February – 10 March) and the NZ Fringe Festival Wellington  (2-24 March) are all on at the same time. I love it for the exciting mix of performances and installations we can see – local performers on the same stages as international ones, and newcomers mixing it up with established practitioners.

The Performance Arcade opens tonight (sneaky!) at 6pm. Lap Strap by Steffi Weismann  starts at 7:30pm. (I’m so intrigued. A wearable toolbelt of audio equipment? Excellent.) On Friday there are events from lunchtime and live music from 5:30pm. The festival’s ‘special architectural arrangement of shipping containers’ provides an exciting space for experimental performance art and installations. Many of these focus on contextual relationships between the performer, the audience and the space.

The New Zealand Festival opens this Friday night at 7pm with free, whānau-friendly Kupe a community extravaganza on the waterfront. As waka sail into the harbour near Taranaki Wharf a 1000 strong group will welcome them with a haka that references the arrival of Kupe, and the two taniwha of Wellington Harbour. There’s also a massed choir performing music by Warren Maxwell. (Many other shows open on Friday night as well.Kupe is the first in a series of events that make up A Waka Odyssey. Part two Kupe Landing  is in Petone on Saturday when waka hourua and waka taua will land allowing us to get up close and personal with the waka and their crews. There’ll be live music, DJs, performances, and food stalls. Part three Kupe Dreaming  features a collection of events celebrating our place in the Pacific.

Pride Festival welcomes us with Out in the Park at Waitangi Park on Saturday 11am – 4pm. The queer fair celebrates with free entertainment from drag queens and kings, singers, dancers, and comedians! The festival concludes with the Pride Parade on Sunday 10 March. In between there are panels and workshops and classes and public talks and mass and shows. Some of the shows are also featuring as part of the NZ Fringe Festival Wellington.

This festival  welcomes all comers You can get a taste of a whole bunch of events with The Great Fringe Cabaret Showcase on 1 March. It promises a ‘night of organised chaos’ which sounds like fun. There are twenty-two free events and many more for koha or low-ish cost tickets. (A quick note about koha shows: koha is a gift to the performer/s for the work they have put in to the show. It’s not a gold coin. It’s a bunch of gold coins. Give generously if you can.)

What are you looking forward to?