CubaDupa makes a triumphant return to the streets of Wellington
WELLINGTON, NZ — CubaDupa, New Zealand’s most diverse and creative street festival has made a triumphant return to the streets of Wellington after two challenging years of pivots and cancellations.
Day one of CubaDupa, on Saturday March 27th, signified the colourful return of Wellington’s annual celebration of its unique creative character and community members. The 2021 programme was CubaDupa’s most ambitious to date and will finish on Sunday March 28th having showcased 19+ hours of curated entertainment across 50 stages and creative zones, delivering 500+ performances and 20 parades with over 1750 artists. Record crowds, over 100,000 are expected over the weekend.
The festival began with a Mihi Whakatau and opening address from MP Greg O’Connor and His Worship Andy Foster, Mayor of Wellington at the brand new Ngā Toi o Te Aro stage, supported by Troy Kingi, Chantal Claret, John Psathas and Anayibi Loboa from salsa band C26 .
Festival Director Gerry Paul said “The team and I are just buzzing after day one, we just feel so lucky to be able to host the most diverse and creative festival in New Zealand, and possibly even the world right now. The streets were pumping, and alive with colours, music, and tantalizing smells from the street feast. It’s the busiest we have ever seen CubaDupa, and the atmosphere was electric. The artists, audience, suppliers, vendors – everyone was just smiling ear to ear, dancing and parading through the streets.
Saturday highlights included huge crowds coming out to celebrate, and a beautiful sunny Wellington day. The Wellington Airport Ngā Taniwha Stage revealed the new and sensationally colourful design by Pōneke wāhine toa artists; Miriama Grace-Smith , Xoe Hall and Gina Kiel. The design features the Whanganui-a-Tara taniwha Ngake and Whātaitai, as well as people woven throughout the taniwha representing the first iwi Ngai Tara that Te-Whanganui-a-Tara is named after, their descendants, mana whenua and people who live in the area today. The stage hosts the likes of Troy Kingi, Jess B, Hans Pucket, Richter City Rebels and more.
A packed Glover Park celebrated all things creative at The Massey University Creative Distraction Stage, featuring acts such as hip-hop synth pop Imugi, indie pop band There’s A Tuesday and Avant Garde Psychedelic New Telepathics.
The Cuba Chapel hosted by Shabby Salon celebrated a multitude of wedding’s and faux funerals, including CubaDupa’s first REAL wedding of Kat Saunders and Conrad Smith; the winners of The Hit’s Hitch-Up competition.
Festival Director Gerry Paul said “The support of our community has been unbelievable for the CubaDupa 2021. People have sorely missed it the last couple of years and now we’ve had the chance to get everyone together to celebrate this creative, diverse and buzzy community we live in, we’re all just in our element. We are humbled and grateful for everyone who has supported us. We’ve even had international support, The New Orleans Jazz Festival reached out to say good luck this morning. Our thoughts are with all of our international whanau and friends, we really appreciate how fortunate we are right now. Bring on day two!
Even technical difficulties, delaying CubaSonic’s debut performance to Sunday, couldn’t dampen the spirit and excitement of the day. The postponement resulted in a surprise cameo from Troy Kingi during The Nudge set.
CubaDupa was forced to pivot in 2019 to an OFFSTREET version of the festival due to the Christchurch Mosque tragedies, and in 2020 CubaDupa was unable to proceed due to Covid19 lock down restrictions. The triumphant return of CubaDupa in 2021 would not have been possible without the support of the entire Cuba Precinct, the wider Wellington community as well as thousands of artists, suppliers, partners and sponsors.
CubaDupa continues on Sunday March 28th in a fully pedestrianised Cuba Precinct from 11am to 6pm, with after-parties into the night.