Our top picks from Australasia’s largest multi-arts festival

Kuki Koori. Courtesy the artists and CubaDupa
Drift. Courtesy the artists and CubaDupa
Hoot! Courtesy the artists and CubaDupa
Poetry Slam. Image courtesy CubaDupa
Read The Big Ideas top 10 things to see and do next weekend (In partnership with CCAT)


This weekend, Wellington’s Cuba Street will burst into life as 250 performers from around the world descend for CubaDupa festival. With so many new and established artists performing – not to mention the opportunities for you to get creative too – Alice Geary took a look through the extensive program and found her top ten highlights to see and do at the festival.

1. Kick off the weekend with a bang. Through a blend of Te Whare Tapere and taonga puoro the opening ceremony will set the tone for the weekend, filling the streets with rhythm, beats and artistic expression. Witness Wellington’s top haka qualifiers and dance to an international mix of street performers.

2. Spin through the city with Hoot! Delivering true street party vibes, over 300 artists will hit the streets for 2 hours of musical freedom. You can dance away to an eclectic mix of rhythms – from Mardi Gras and big brass to folk music and choir singing.                                                

3. Catch the infectious rhythms of Wanderlust. This collaboration between world-class musicians Niko Ne Zna and dance troupe Le Dance delivers a vibrant mix of styles that can only conjure joy so look out for pop-up performances rumbling through the festival.

4. Be enchanted by Drift, a hypnotic tango from leading inclusive performance company Touch Compass. Through the playful dance of two friends drifting in and out of contact, we will be led to questions our own interactions and how they might be perceived by others.


5. Discover opera. CubaDupa is hosting a specially scripted 15 minute performance, Coffee Cantata, inspired by Wellington’s architecture and a love of good coffee. Relatable, passionate, human and humorous, this should be the perfect introduction to the genre for the uninitiated.  

6. Get stuck into the creative experience. Interactive grassroots platform Dress Up Jam will be providing costumes and a playful space for self-expression, encouraging participants of all ages to improvise and share their performances via social media.

7. Join art in the park. Take a break from the hustle of the streets to wander through Toi Pōneke Art Park. The space will be taken over by local artists including Bena Jackson, Bryce Galloway, Ruben Martinez, and you can collaborate with Rachel Silver to create a mosaic inspired by Matariki the Whale.

8. Reflect on Wellington’s waterfront. Marking 250 years since he landed in New Zealand, Captain Cook takes a lamenting look at his legacy and the ongoing impact of colonisation. People of all ages are invited along for the (bike) ride to re-investigate historical sites and their significance today.  

9. Try your hand, or rather voice, at one of the world’s hottest live performance formats. Hone your literary talents at a poetry workshop before checking out the pros battling it out in CubaDupa’s first Poetry Slam


10. Dance the night away. End the night grooving to the mesmerising beat and kaleidoscopic lights of Kuki Koori, a collaborative audio-visual spectacle from Fat Freddy's Drop keyboardist Iain 'Kuki blaze' Gordon and visual artist Mick 'Koori boy' Finn.


*Update* Find the full *offstreet* programme for CubaDupa next weekend, March 30-31 here.
This article was written in partnership with the Creative Capital Arts Trust.

Written by

Alice Geary

20 Mar 2019

Alice Geary is a journalist from the UK based in Timaru. She is well experienced in and loves the arts and culture sector. She particularly loves having the opportunity to write about cultural events and new initiatives shaking up the industry.

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