Looking Out For Each Other 

Nelson Arts Festival is committed to providing accessibility for our community and to providing a safe space for all. 

Here, you'll find all the info you'll need to access our Festival - from getting to and accessing our venues, booking tickets and our Pay What You Can system, COVID-19 related info and content warnings.

If there's something you'd like to know but is not included here, please reach out to us via call/text on 027 241 4599 or email access@nelsonartsfestival.nz

Accessibility Programme

It is our intention as an organisation to provide greater accessibility to the Festival as a whole. 
We are learning and growing our knowledge in this space, which in turn impacts our programme and event delivery as we work towards a Festival that provides greater access for our community.

This year, we are thrilled to include three New Zealand Sign Language Interpreted events at the Theatre Royal. Also in the Access Programme are three audio described events/experiences, in addition to a Touch Tour and a recorded Audio Described tour of Bailee Lobb's exhibition at the Refinery ArtSpace, SENSORY SELF PORTRAITS

If you have thoughts or suggestions, please reach out to us: access@nelsonartsfestival.nz

 Make an Accessibility Request


For a larger print version of our 2023 programme brochure, please click here.

We have included accessibility symbols in our event listings to help you navigate the programme.

Below, you will find additional information about the accessibility of our venues and what we can provide to ensure an enjoyable Festival experience for all:

Wheelchair Access

Wheelchair users are welcome in all spaces in the Festival and all venues have step-free access. 

Some venues have specific seats allocated for wheelchair users — please get in touch when booking if you have any questions: access@nelsonartsfestival.nz
More mobility access info

Service Dogs

Service dogs are welcome at our festival venues. Please let the box office staff know via email or phone if your service dog will be accompanying you when you book your ticket.

Companion Seats

We’d like to support everyone who needs support in accessing our festival events. Please let us know if you require a companion seat alongside yours. 
You can book a complimentary companion ticket through the NCMA or Theatre Royal box office in person, via call/text on 027 241 4599, or by contacting access@nelsonartsfestival.nz

Highly Visual Events

Events that have a large visual component and/or minimal audio i.e. visual art exhibitions.

No Major Language Barriers

Events that are non-verbal or have minimal language.

New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) Interpreted Events

NZSL interpreted events feature trained interpreters on the stage signing what is being said during the event for Deaf people who use New Zealand Sign Language to communicate.

These are our 2023 NZSL interpreted events:
THE SAVAGE COLONISER SHOW | Tusiata Avia | Theatre Royal | Fri 20 Oct | 8pm 
AILMENTS | Hayley Sproull | Theatre Royal | Sat 21 Oct | 8pm
THERE'S A CURE FOR THIS | Dr Emma Espiner | Theatre Royal | Sun 22 Oct | 1.30pm

Audio Based Events

Events that have a large audio component to them, i.e Pukapuka Talks and music events.

Audio Described Events

Arts Access Aotearoa defines audio description as: a narrated commentary for blind and vision impaired patrons that provides descriptions of the visual elements. In a theatrical performance, audio description narrates what’s happening on stage in between the dialogue or songs: for example, new scenes, settings, costume, body language, facial expression, movements across the stage and sight gags. 

Their narration is transmitted to wireless receivers and headsets worn by the audience members.

These are our 2023 Audio Described Events:
THE SAVAGE COLONISER SHOW | Tusiata Avia | Fri 20 Oct | Touch Tour 6.15pm, Show 8pm
CAN I LIVE? | Fehinti Balogun + Complicité | Suter Theatre | Sun 22 Oct | 4pm
VISUAL ART AND CHRIST CHURCH CATHEDRAL AUDIO DESCRIBED TOUR | Refinery ArtSpace & Christ Church Cathedral | Sat 28 Oct | 2.30pm
SENSORY SELF PORTRAITS - pre recorded Audio Described Tour | Bailee Lobb | Refinery ArtSpace | 20 - 28 Oct | Gallery Opening Hours


Nelson Arts Festival is committed to providing a safe space for all. We have zero tolerance for discriminatory and bullying behaviours.

Pay What You Can (PWYC) Ticketing

How can more people feel seen and heard by the Festival? How do we open our door a little wider? 

We’re thrilled to be able to offer Pay What You Can tickets (PWYC) for our ticketed events again this year. Ticket prices continue to pose a barrier for some and PWYC makes the Festival more financially accessible for more of our community.

Our WHY, and how it works:

We believe that Pay What You Can makes the Festival more financially accessible to more of our community, and will build love of the arts in the hearts of Whakatū and beyond. With various factors it’s been and continues to be a tough time out there, and we want to help give the gift of the Festival to as many people as we can.

We know many of you will be familiar with this system, but for those of you who are coming upon it for the first time, here’s a brief overview:


We know that price is a barrier for some, and this new model is another step along the road to making all of our activities accessible to everyone.

When you buy a ticket for a Nelson Arts Festival event this year, there are five price tiers to choose from: Tiers 1 and 2 are lower, Tier 3 is our recommended/traditional ticket price, and Tiers 4 and 5 are higher, enabling those who can to ‘pay it forward’ to support others.

What does 'pay it forward' mean? In short, any amount paid over the recommended Tier 3 price not only supports those requiring the lower-tier tickets but also supports the Festival's activities with artists, tamariki and rangatahi, and our local community.

Correct - this price is set to make a contribution to the costs of putting on the event. It doesn’t cover all of the costs, but it makes a dent.


Yep. That's the beauty of Pay What You Can! When you book, you'll be given different options to choose from. If the recommended price is inaccessible for you, please select a bracket which is manageable. If you are able to pay more than the recommended price, you will be helping to provide access for the whole community.


Absolutely not! Shows at the Theatre Royal and the Nelson Centre of Musical Arts (NCMA) have allocated seating so you can choose whatever seat you want when you book. Other venues are general admission so it is first in, first served, no matter what price you paid for your ticket. If you have specific access requirements, get in contact via access@nelsonartsfestival.nz

ANY QUESTIONS? Email us at info@nelsonartsfestival.nz
Our Pay What You Can ticketing is made possible by funding from The Cultural Sector Innovation Fund, Manatū Taonga | Ministry of Culture and Heritage, as well as the support of our Kārearea Partner, Nelson Building Society.
Please note: 
REIMAGINING MOZART and the NCMA LUNCHTIME CONCERTS are independently ticketed events, and therefore not Pay What You Can events.

Cultural Conversations ask for a donation of $5-$20 in support of their artists. Please register for their events via the link in the event listing.

How to book

Right here, right now (online)

Visit individual event listings for all your web purchasing needs (plus paperless tickets) or for all the ticketed events in one snapshot click the button below.
Book Now!

In Person | By Phone

Swing by our friendly Box Offices if you prefer to book in person:

Theatre Royal 
78 Rutherford Street | 12pm - 4pm weekdays
Phone: 03 548 3840 (Select 1)

Nelson Centre of Musical Arts (NCMA)
48 Nile St | 10am - 4pm weekdays
Phone: 03 548 9477

Got questions?

If you have any questions about an event or tickets you have purchased you can email: 
or info@nelsonartsfestival.nz

How to Pay

You can pay with cash, eftpos or credit card. Tickets ordered over the phone can be collected in person or emailed to you free of charge — please enquire at the time of booking.

Ticket Prices & Service Fees

All ticket prices are inclusive of GST but do not include the per ticket service fee. If using a credit card, this will also incur a fee. The following are our per ticket service and credit card fees:

  • $2.00 per ticket for internet purchases
  • $2.50 per ticket for counter purchases
  • Credit card fees 3%

Door Sales

Door sales are available one hour prior to the performance time. Please check availability (some performances will sell out) on the individual show listings.
I'm Ready - Book Now!

Important Information

Ticket Prices

Ticket prices include GST but do not include service or credit card fees.

Health & Safety

The Festival team, artists and audiences are required to comply with the latest Government health advice at the time of the event. 

We are committed to the safety and wellbeing of our community first and foremost. We encourage mask wearing indoors where possible to support this.

If an artist gets sick and can no longer travel or perform, events may be postponed or cancelled. We will offer exchanges or refunds to our ticket holders in this instance.

Exchanges & Refunds

Once you have purchased your tickets, we are not able to refund them. However due to the uncertainties posed by COVID-19, we’re offering additional flexibility in the instance of COVID-19 related complications.

If you are feeling unwell please stay home and email us to let us know. We will exchange or refund your ticket where possible (and if contacted pre-event) as thanks for putting your community first. 


We reserve the right to admit latecomers only at a suitable point in a performance. If there is no suitable point, latecomers may not be permitted to enter. Latecomers are not entitled to a refund or transfer.

Allocated versus General Admission

Apart from Theatre Royal and NCMA, all venues are general admission. First in, first served!


To ensure a safe space for our artists, the use of mobile phones or other similar devices is not permitted during shows. The use of cameras or other recording devices is strictly prohibited.


For more information visit our Accessibility information above.

Content Warnings

Please note that some events have aspects that some audience members may find disturbing or uncomfortable. This ranges from audio or visual effects like strobe lighting, or content such as references to sexual assault or drug use.

We have provided an alert symbol with every event listing that has a content or trigger warning, and the specific triggers are included in each individual event listing.

See all 2023 events


At the time of loading the website [and printing the brochure!] every effort was made to ensure that programme details were correct. However, some changes may occur after publication. Please continue to check the Festival website for the latest information and don't hesitate to contact us if in any doubt.

Safe & Respectful Space

Nelson Arts Festival is committed to providing a safe space for all. We have zero tolerance for discriminatory and bullying behaviours.

Harmful Communications

As a public-facing organisation, the Nelson Festivals Trust welcomes robust feedback and seeks to have ongoing conversations with our audiences. 

We appreciate that some content or events may feel triggering to some – however, we firmly agree with Creative New Zealand’s viewpoint that, "art is where ideas can be explored, tested and shown". It is not the arts’ job to keep everyone comfortable, it is their job to encourage understanding of this crazy world and explore a diversity of viewpoint, even if this may feel challenging. We carefully select and work closely with all our artists and contributors and believe that everyone presenting at the Nelson Arts Festival has something important to share with our community and the world.

We want people to feel safe and respected on our community forums and at our events. Nelson Festivals Trust will not tolerate harmful communications towards our organisation, staff or artists – for example, abusive posts on social media, offensive comments and harassment via email or text.

Plainly, no one at Nelson Festivals Trust has to put up with abuse as part of their work, nor do other members of our audience. Furthermore, it is our utmost priority that our in-person and online spaces are safe for our artists and audiences alike.

We therefore will moderate or delete comments on our social media channels, not make staff contact details available publicly, and encourage all staff, crew and volunteers to not engage in challenging conversations but rather step away from interactions that are threatening.

For emails, texts, tweets, and other communications, people may receive a warning, be blocked, or referred to Netsafe or the police.

Comments Policy

To achieve the above objectives of safety and respect, we have developed these rules that apply to anything you post. By posting, people agree to abide by these rules.

Comments on our social media channels are post-moderated. This means they are not checked or edited by us before they appear on the site, and consequently places the onus on the person posting to be mature, considered, caring and reasonable in what they write.
On Facebook and Instagram, we may proactively turn comments off on posts that may attract abusive or harmful comments. On other posts, comments may be deleted, and accounts blocked or referred under the Harmful Digital Communications legislation.

General rule for posting on our channels: Think before you post – could this comment offend someone, is it defamatory? Keep it respectful and on topic. We will not tolerate racism, hate speech, name calling, abusive or personal attacks. Anything that could be taken as threatening, harassing, bullying, obscene, offensive, pornographic, sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic (or any other ~ist) is unacceptable and will be removed.

The safety and wellbeing of our community, artists and team is our priority when managing our spaces and channels.


Central Whakatū & around town

Refinery ArtSpace - 114 Hardy St
Theatre Royal - 78 Rutherford St
The Suter Art Gallery Te Aratoi o Whakatū - 208 Bridge St
Deville Music Hub - 22 New St
The Boathouse - 326 Wakefiled Quay
Cultural Conversations - Morrison Square, 222 Hardy St
G-Block, NMIT - 61/65 Nile St
Victory Boxing - 98-100 Vanguard St
Victory Community Centre - 2 Totara St
Nelson Centre of Musical Arts (NCMA) - 48 Nile St
Christ Church Cathedral - 1 Trafalgar Square
Kiss Me (by Kismet) - 149 Hardy St
Elma Turner Library - 27 Halifax St
Nelson Provincial Museum  - Cnr Trafalgar and Hardy St
Atelier Studio | Gallery - Level 1/ 284 Trafalgar St
Nelson Airport Terminal - Trent Dr
The Brook Waimārama Sanctuary - 651 Brook St

Further afield: Te Tai-o-Aorere

Neudorf Vineyards - 138 Neudorf Road, Upper Moutere
Te Noninga Kumu Motueka Public Library - 32 Wallace St, Motueka
Moutere Hills Community Centre - 1539 Moutere Highway, Upper Moutere



Sadly, this pandemic is not over yet. In order to protect the performers in our events, we kindly encourage you to wear a mask while in indoor performance spaces. 

The Festival team, artists and audiences are required to comply with the latest Government health advice at the time of the event. 
We ask for your patience, care and trust as we navigate events and gatherings at this time.

Refunds & Cancellations

To honour our duty of care for our artists and our community alike, if an artist gets sick and can no longer travel or perform, events may be postponed or cancelled. 
We will offer exchanges or refunds to our ticket holders should this happen - keep an eye on your emails and our social media.

We are committed to the safety and wellbeing of our community first and foremost.

Huge thanks for their ticketing expertise to

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