Enlarge Photo credit: Oliver Crawford

A 120,000+ Person Festival Took Place in New Zealand This Weekend


Over 120,000 people packed out the CubaDupa festival in New Zealand this past weekend. No masks, no social distancing, no Covid restrictions whatsoever.

This is the reward afforded to New Zealanders, who endured strict lockdowns early on in the pandemic, eradicated Covid-19 from the country entirely, and can now fully enjoy “normal” life.

Featuring over 500 performances and more than 1,750 artists of all kinds on March 27 and 28, CubaDupa, held annually throughout the Cuba Precinct in Wellington, bills itself as New Zealand’s most creative, most diverse and largest free street festival. The 2020 edition was canceled at the dawn of the pandemic, but 2021 brought the festival back in full force.

Festival Director Gerry Paul commented:

“The team and I are just buzzing! We just feel so lucky to be able to host the most diverse and creative festival in New Zealand, and what we know to be the biggest music and arts festival in the world right now. The streets were pumping, and alive with colours, music, and tantalizing smells from the street feast. If I had to describe it, I would say it’s like Mardi Gras, meets Notting Hill, meets Laneways’ earlier festivals. 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.

CubaDupa is free to attend and features a mixture of music, dance, parades, technology, culinary traditions, and neighbourhood revelry.

And yes, that includes metal. Ben Mulchin, who runs Valhalla, the renowned metal bar in Wellington, hosted shows covering a wide variety of styles from thrash to dungeon synth.

A 120,000+ Person Festival Took Place in New Zealand This Weekend

Mulchin previously explained:

“Valhalla is a place anyone can be themselves. It’s our oasis for metal culture, where all Vikings, metal heads, and misfitted toys in New Zealand can call home. We can’t wait to show CubaDupa festival and the world the heaviest grooves, most savage riffs and sickest blast beats Wellington has to offer. It means everything to us that we can do what we love and live for. Hopefully the world can go back to doing the things it loves cos metal never dies in New Zealand.”

Meanwhile those of us in the rest of the world — especially the big, fat, dumb United States — are still looking six months into the future for a possible return to live shows in some form or another, presumably with restrictions in place. Sigh.

Congrats to New Zealand for this momentous feat! We support you and we are insanely jealous.

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