About the Festival

The Newtown Festival 2016 – join us for a month of celebration

Discover the unique Newtown community through a series of  events and performances in February and March 2016.  The programme is still in development – as the time approaches it will be available on the Events page.  You are invited to celebrate with one of Wellington’s most exciting, diverse and vibrant communities.

Who’s behind the festival?

The Newtown Festival is a creative production of the Newtown Residents’ Association.

Our aim is to  celebrate Newtown by bringing our community together out into the public realm. Helping shape and reflect  the spirit, identity & local character beyond much more than the actual event.  For the Festival to happen  requires hundreds of people “becoming involved” in their community……

Contact us if you (or your event) would like to be involved.

Street Fair Day – A World of Food & Music

The highlight of Newtown’s month long Festival extravaganza is the Newtown Festival Street Fair – Sunday 6th March (which is also International Children’s Day).

FREE to all – a family oriented public celebration in the heart of Newtown*, the Street Fair is Newtown’s community party to which all of Wellington is invited.

Some history

In 1997 the Carrara Park Carnival moved to Riddiford Street as a public celebration of the then new City Council tree planting & street improvements. The Newtown Street Fair was so popular that members of the Residents’ Association continued to organise an annual celebration. The same core people have been at the heart of the planning and many other local volunteers have contributed to the work of making the Newtown’s Street Fair a success and a phenomenon on the Wellington summer calendar for the last 17 years.

The 2013 Street Fair required an operational crew of 156 people, had over 1000 active participants and attracted a crowd of well over 75,000 people.

Reclaim the streets

Pink tuba playerOn Festival Street Fair Day eleven blocks of central Riddiford Street and the adjoining Constable, Rintoul, and other side streets are all closed to vehicles and opened up to 80,000 people. The heart of Newtown is transformed by a smorgasbord of 10 music stages, a busking pitch, 3 fairground sites, and over 400 stalls.

Stages, stalls and people pack the main street and all the adjoining side streets. Newtown’s cafes & bars move outdoors into the road accompanied by a fantastic range of tastes from many other food stalls.

Newtown’s shops and businesses are joined by local crafts people, community groups, and visiting stall holders selling an enormous range of goods, reflecting the diversity of the people who come together for this event.

A performance based street fair with live music, colourful costumes where dance and all day entertainment for all ages is provided by community groups, local musicians and Wellington bands. The depth of talent in wider Wellington comes to the Newtown community for this once a year street party.

Being more important than cars, able to walk freely in the middle of the streets and experiencing Newtown from a different perspective is a large part of the crowd enjoyment.

Every year is more popular than last, with around 75,000 people from Newtown, Wellington and from all over New Zealand coming to enjoy the 2013 Street Fair.

Not for profit!

This is a not for profit public celebration. The point of the fair isn’t for someone to make money from organising it or as a fundraiser for the community. It’s a pure celebration of how fantastic Newtown is.

All the money raised is spent on staging & promoting the event. It is convened by volunteers with only a token koha paid to those who are most involved to cover some of their expenses. In the spirit of the event many southern suburbs performers who have gone on to become famous generously make themselves available at a reduced rate if their schedule allows.

The perfect opportunity for local groups, businesses & performers to showcase themselves to the public & for everyone to celebrate Newtown, the Street Fair has another, almost more significant, role. The weeks and months of organising & coordinating the event puts groups, organisations, individuals & neighbours, retailers & local businesses as well as residents in contact who might have no other reason to talk to each other.

The small group who convene the Newtown Festival believe in investing their personal time and energy to build social capital for the community.

Thinking globally and acting locally – putting an enormous amount of effort into ensuring the Festival is such a success year after year is their way of contributing to making the world a better place. It is their experience that the collegiality of the Festival does enhance the wellbeing and health of the community, creates a cohesive identity and promotes peace and goodwill.

They continue to stage this event because they believe that “community” only exists if people are willing to be active participants, to share a vision of the bigger picture beyond their own wants and needs. “We invest energy in our community to help ensure Newtown continues to attract people who are friendly and generous spirited .”

If you ask a young person in Wellington now about Newtown, the Newtown Fair Day will be one of the main things they identify with as to why Newtown is such a cool place. The Festival has really enhanced the sense of place and community and created a very positive image and vibe for our suburb.

Putting the UNITY back into community

The vibrancy and sense of celebration on the day is the motivation & reward that encourages people, groups and businesses to contribute together constructively to our Street Fair. Newtown is a diverse, tolerant, eventful place – an atmosphere that the Street Fair is both a symptom & a cause of.

Newtown residents and business people are from a diverse range of cultures and ethnicities. The celebration of the multi cultural nature of the community is part of the Fair Day that helps build understanding and tolerance. The effect of the Newtown Street Fair runs for much longer than one Sunday in March!

Newtown street fair shots