Now it can be told: the 2020 CubaDupa Festival in Wellington will return to the streets of Te Aro on 28 and 29 March! All of New Zealand is invited to celebrate the country’s most vibrant and creative free festival, and its beautiful disruption across the heart of Wellington. The free multi-arts programme returns to its outdoor setting in a big way—with a dozen stages, over 100 food stalls, special creative zones, 30 parading groups, close to a thousand performers and artists, and 100,000 friends and neighbours.
“Our iconoclastic Te Aro neighbourhood will be filled with sights and sounds, parades and drum beats, street installations and public art”, says Festival Director Gerry Paul, who has programmed the most ambitious CubaDupa ever. “And at the heart of it all, ready to transcend the ordinary, are over 1500 artists and performers from the region and around the world”.
Music is the very core of CubaDupa, and there will be no shortage of aural disruption in 2020. The festival will present a diverse free live music programme showcasing almost every genre. New Zealand Music Award-winner Troy Kingi brings his irresistible galactic funk, alongside rising Hip Hop star JessB. Contemporary Canadian folk group The East Pointers join the party with their high-energy take on the Celtic tradition. Making the trip from across the ditch are Bullhorn, an epic 10-piece brass ensemble fronted by the extraordinary rapper Roman MC. Local groove masters Dr Reknaw and emerging New Zealand rockers H4lf Cast add their grooves to the weekend celebration.
Musicians, sound experiences, and immersive electronic wizardry become a cornerstone of the 2020 CubaDupa with the festival’s most ambitious project ever, CubaSonic. The mass musical interruption—conceived by New Zealand’s leading composer John Psathas—involves nearly 500 musicians lining the street, twelve conductors above the crowd, a custom-made overhead sound system, and a locally-invented Tesla coil synthesiser known as Chime Red.
Defying words, Cubasonic will be presented once each day—uniting the entire festival site with a ten-minute musicalhappening unlike anything ever attempted in New Zealand. The project is a true partnership of creative community, generously supported by Creative New Zealand and involving Orchestra Wellington, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Royal New Zealand Air Force Band, The Nudge, Boat and a mass of Batucada drummers.
“CubaDupa is one of Wellington’s primary lightning rods, generating and releasing a massive, positive energy charge into the city every year,” says Psathas. “Festivals offer unique opportunities for ambitious ideas. At their best they give us experiences we never forget, experiences that exceed our expectations both in the witnessing of art and in the moments of massed connection that sneak up and take us by surprise. Cubasonic, played throughout the heart of Cuba Street, will be vast, epic, and monumental.”
The 2020 musical acts will be presented across twelve stages, including the brand new Radio Active Upper Cuba SoundSphere, Wellington Airport Swan Lane, the Garage Project Wild Workshop stage, and a Glover Park zone designed in partnership with Massey University’s College of Creative Arts.
“Festival audiences can experience an abundance of music, dance, street theatre and art activations taking place throughout our Te Aro precinct” says Paul. “After finding your groove with JessB or Bullhorn, join The Ping Pong Party People in a wildly creative table tennis championship, visit Shabby Salon for a drop-dead gorgeous makeover, then jump into the Weddings-and-Funerals installation.”
Another new element making its debut at the 2020 CubaDupa is the Mammoth Circus Tent in the Wilson Carpark on Ghuznee St. The bold and colourful venue will host energetic performances and workshops for all ages by day, and transform into a saucy cabaret show by night.
“It’s part of our desire to grow the festival in new ways, add interesting platforms, and showcase even more artistry and performers from all around the world” explains Eric Holowacz, Chief Executive of Creative Capital Arts Trust, the non-profit organisation that produces CubaDupa. “Families will experience circus shows by fabulous acts like Colossal Productions, 3 Speed Crunch Box or Seven Deadly Stunts during the day, and then the older crowd can enjoy comedy and more provocative cabaret after dark.”
One theme running through much of the 2020 CubaDupa disruption is Intergalactic Madness—alien visitors, strange messages, and wondrous disruptions from other worlds. Big Nazo will invade from Rhode Island, with generous support from the Embassy of the United States of America, for their debut visit to New Zealand. The outlandish collective of visual artists, puppet performers and costumed musicians will bring their alien creatures to the streets and stages of CubaDupa. Closer to home, Alien Junk Monsters add their psychedelic recycled trash costumes—and a few new otherworldly offspring. And for the first time ever CubaDupa will play host to BodyPalooza, a new national body paint competition featuring over 30 artists and models painted as alien visitors.
“There’s an eclectic and inspiring experience for everyone at CubaDupa, because it’s a fearless celebration of who we are as a diverse and creative city, and a we have in this iconic neighbourhood”, says Holowacz. “Whether you are into new bands, raucous parades, or the search for extraterrestrial life, CubaDupa has it. I love it, because the weekend is always a highlight of the summertime, and an immersion in culture, creativity, and community.”
For culinary disruptions that satisfy any appetite, the Moore Wilson’s Street Feast returns to CubaDupa, with over 100 food stalls and a diverse range of local vendors and culinary experiences.
“CubaDupa is going to be the highlight of our upcoming tour in New Zealand,” says Koady Chaisson, of Canadian contemporary indie folk music trio The East Pointers. “We love playing in New Zealand, as there are a lot of similarities to our home in Prince Edward Island, but we don’t have anything like CubaDupa. We’ve heard such amazing things about this festival – this is going to take things in NZ to the next level. We can’t wait to get to Wellington and help light it up.”
The 2020 festival will take place on 28 and 29 March throughout the Cuba Street Precinct in the Te Aro neighbourhood of Wellington. To learn more about artists, programming, and opportunities at the 2020 CubaDupa, visit the festival website at www.cubadupa.co.nz.
CubaDupa is presented by the non-profit Creative Capital Arts Trust, and receives essential support from WellingtonNZ, Wellington Regional Amenities Fund, Wellington City Council, Wellington International Airport, Cato Brand Partners, Kāpura/Wellington Hospitality Group, Creative New Zealand, and generous festival partners such as ANZ, The Wellington Company, Massey University College of Creative Arts, Fortune Favours, ZM, Light House Cinemas, Wellington Community Trust, Havana Coffee Works, Rogue & Vagabond, Garage Project, Orchestra Wellington, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Royal New Zealand Air Force Band, Victoria University, Embassy of the United States of America, Australian High Commission, Embassy of Ireland, Wellington Night Market, Wilson Parking, KPMG, and dozens of other creative partners.