The 2019 Christchurch Arts Festival opened with A Winter's Tale & Pōwhiri (26-27 July) – a free public event over two nights that saw Oxford Terrace and Ōtākaro, the Avon River transformed into a carnival of street-party revelry – featuring light, sound, music and performance.
The opening pōwhiri (welcoming ceremony), featured Matapopore’s very own Aroha Reriti-Crofts – followed by kapa haka group Te Pao a Tahu, who explored traditional Ngāi Tahu narratives through song.
Then from 6pm on both nights, Oxford Terrace was transformed as lively Shakespearean scenes were presented by giant puppets, against a backdrop of colour, movement and skyscraping video projections. Along the riverside, roaming amongst the audience and from the balconies of the bars and restaurants lining The Terrace, masked NASDA actors from ARA Institute, Christchurch Circus Centre performers and over-sized puppets operated by performers from Circotica parodied scenes from the classic Shakespearean films being projected onto the former Rydges Hotel.
The event was book-ended by two stages, one near the Bridge of Rememberance and the other by the new Riverside complex which pulsed with the sounds of six diverse local performers and bands:
6.00pm the velveteen voice of multi-instrumentalist Mark Vanilau
6.30pm the gothic psychedelia of post-punk veterans Dark Matter
7.00pm the Elizabethan charm of the UC School of Music led by Mark Menzies
7.30pm the indie, classic rock of Adam Hattaway and the Haunters
8.00pm the power pop of rising Rangiora 4-piece, Best Bets
8.30pm the gypsy and Balkan rhythms of Yurt Party
Charlie Gates, The Press, 26 July 19, Immersive Swirl of Shakespeare smoke and light opens the Christchurch Arts Festival
Erin Harrington, Theatreview, 27 July 19, A Warm and Worthy Start to a festival that hopes to light up the Winter