Wellington has the best nightlife in the country, from a vibrant bar and club scene to world-class cultural events. Check the free publication “Wellington – what’s on?” to get the best addresses and a full programme of events. You can pick up the leaflets from the visitor centre and many public places.
Wellington Dragon Boat Festival
Location: Wellington Harbour. Held in March.
The festival was inspired by the legend of Chinese poet Ch'u Yuan, who in 4000BC was saved from drowning in the Mi Lo River by fishermen who raced out to him in their boats. The Dragon Boat Festival draws around 60,000 people to the city's waterfront each year. Teams thrash it out on the water whilst onshore fun includes entertainers, cultural performances, children's activities and food.
Wellington Film festival
Wellington Film Festival is part of the New Zealand Film Festival, which visits 15 different cities. Originally founded in 1972, it now attracts an audience of over 70,000 a year, one of the country's highest turn-outs. The full programme is released in mid-June.
International Festival of the Arts
The biennial International Arts Festival, held in March, is a month-long affair. It attracts top performers from around the world and performances range from traditional Maori dance to classical music, opera or puppet shows. For more information:
Tel: 04 473 0149
As well as clubs, a lot of bars have live music and dancing in the evening, particularly at weekends. For a complete listing, check the free leaflet “Wellington – What’s on”. The Queens Wharf Events Centre is a regular venue for live bands and you might chance upon a free concert in Civic Square or on the waterfront in summer.
Address: 32a Wigan Street
A relaxed and homely interior complements live music, good coffee and the local personalities who inhabit the bar.
Address: 31-35 Dixon Street
A bar and restaurant, Hope Bros turns into a popular club at night – the dance floor is always packed.
Address: 104 Cuba Street
This bar is a local favourite. Kitsch interior, regular live gigs and a perfect sized dance floor, the Mighty Mighty is a guaranteed good time.
Address: Forresters Lane
Tucked down Motel Lane, Motel offers a plush cocktail lounge. Intimate booth settings, an ever-changing cocktail menu and personal bar service.
Address: Kent Terrace
The best of Wellington's drum & bass, club and electronica, Sandwiches plays host to musicians and DJs from every corner of the global scene.
San Francisco Bath House
Address: 171, Cuba Street
Wellington's iconic live venue, it stages some of the best music from New Zealand and around the world.
Theatre and Concert Halls
State Opera House
Address: 111-113 Manners Street
Tel: 04 384 3840
The State Opera House hosts opera, ballet and musicals.
The city is also home to the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the internationally renowned men's A Capella chorus Vocal FX.
Address: 1 Kent Terrace
Tel: 04 384 9507
Bats specialises in alternative works
Address: Courtnay Place
Tel: 04 801 6946
National Maori Theatre Company Taki Rua
Address: 12 Alpha Street
Tel: 04 384 4531
Traditional Maori and Pacific Island culture.
St James Theatre
Address: Courtenay Place
St James’ Theatre is a popular venue for artistic performances.
Wellington is home to the Royal New Zealand Ballet and New Zealand School of Dance.
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