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What to see at the Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival

The exclusive-to-the-region shows worth attending.

By Jessica-Belle Greer
With more than 70 events packed into 13 days, the Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival is a hive of vibrant and forward-thinking performances, with a record number of international acts this year.
We’ve found our pick of the shows that are either exclusive to the festival, or produced exclusively for the event, to help you decide what to see.


Described as “one of the most magnificent shows of the Festival,” at the Edinburgh Festival, Driftwood is now getting the New Zealand treatment.
From Australia’s Casus Circus the breath-taking show is a contemporary circus experience that will leave you on the edge of your seat.
It’s a colourful concoction of pure joy that explores how it feels to be human, grasping for both connection and survival.
From $42
Thursday 28 – Saturday 30 September
Pacific Crystal Palace Spiegeltent

A Prudent Man

It's always been arts prerogative to confront politic and with the current, turbulent political climate, it would be a surprise if an arts festival did not include a show influenced by recent elections and events.
Katy Warner’s award-winning, darkly comedic political thriller, A Prudent Man brought to life by actor Lyall Brooks, tackles what makes the Trumps, the Abbotts and the Hansons of this world tick for a fresh take on conservative politicians’ recent resurgence.
From $42
Friday 29 September
Napier Century Theatre (MTG)

Yana Alana Covered

Multi-award winning show pony and queen of queer cabaret, Yana Alana, is gracing the Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival with her presence.
The alter-ego of Australian Sarah Ward, Alana will sing songs from the likes of Nina Simone, Tom Waits, Shirley Bassey, Laurie Anderson and Joy Division.
A champion for the disenfranchised, with an incredible vocal range, she will be joined on stage by an all-female band, The Paranas.
From $42
Tuesday 26 – Wednesday 27 September
Pacific Crystal Palace Spiegeltent


Leonard Nimoy’s celebrated play Vincent is based on hundreds of letters exchanged between Vincent van Gogh and his brother Theo.
Told through the eyes of Theo, this incredible one-man show reveals one of the world’s most recognisable painters in an entirely new light.
Hawke’s Bay actor Daniel Betty shows the demands that society places on an artist, for a play that is both inspirational and thought-provoking.
From $32
Wednesday 4 October
The Blyth Performing Arts Centre (Iona College)

Eb & Sparrow Showcase

New Zealand band Eb & Sparrow's critically acclaimed, genre-defying show held on the last day of the festival will close the event in style.
With Hawke’s Bay being some of the band member’s childhood home, and where their album Sun/Son was recorded, you can expect the performers to bring their all to this full band experience, traversing old-time soul, rock n’ roll and alternative country genres.
From $42
Sunday October 8
Pacific Crystal Palace Spiegeltent
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