Acclaimed entertainer Rutene Spooner will present a musical game show at the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival called Hardcase Hori Housie on Friday, February 25.
The range of artists and entertainers is as diverse as ever, but there is a unifying undercurrent of defiance in the just-announced line-up of the 2022 Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival.
It is, in part, defiance of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, which has cast a pall over the annual festival’s organising team – at times threatening them with the prospect of cancelling the entire event outright.
Even now, as festival director Geoff Turkington points out in his preface to the programme of events, “our fingers and toes are crossed that we get to go ahead at full capacity”.
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There is also a theme of rebellion in many of the shows that were revealed at a launch event at the gardens on Wednesday afternoon – from the circus-style show titled House of Yolo, that promises to be “a visually stunning and exhilarating exploration of the modern middle class slavery of fast fashion”; to a star-studded concert dedicated to the poetry of proto-feminist Katherine Mansfield.
The festival, which runs from February 18 to 27, will include the full multitude of high-quality events that Waikato audiences have come to expect, and will include many favourites such as the perennially popular Sunset Symphony concert featuring the Trust Waikato Symphony Orchestra; the Garden Giggles cavalcade of stand-up comedians; and the Grooves in the Gardens vintage market.
One of the highlights of this festival is the previously-announced concert featuring music from the films Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, as performed by entertainment luminaries Tami Neilson, Laughton Kora, Milan Borich and Booga Beazley, with backing from the Big Band Royale.
A concert by Neilson proved a high spot of this year’s festival, and so too was a show featuring top musician Julia Deans; who also returns for the 2022 event – this time with new material alongside favourites from her albums We Light Fire and Modern Fables, as well as some hits from her time in the chart-topping band Fur Patrol.
The 2022 festival line-up is notable for a surfeit of top New Zealand musicians, and this is possibly due to the effect of the Covid lockdowns and border closures preventing them from touring overseas at that time.
Also on the billing is soul musician Teeks, the acclaimed singer-songwriter Reb Fountain, and the Katherine Mansfield-themed concert – held, appropriately, in the Mansfield Garden – that features top musos Anna Coddington, Lawrence Arabia, Lorina Harding, Charlotte Yates and French for Rabbits, among others.
The programme also features theatre, dance, comedy and what seems to be the full gamut of music genres including opera, classical, flamenco, and even the Auckland Jazz Orchestra in concert with Caitlin Smith
The entertainment also extends beyond the Hamilton Gardens and into the central city, with free live music, discussion and live art events at Victoria on the River on Saturday, February 19 and Saturday, February 26.
The full programme can be found on hgaf.co.nz Early bird discounts are available on most ticketed events until Christmas Eve.