Whangārei Fringe launches bigger, weirder 2022 line-up

A misanthropic beauty pageant, a galactic circus show, a music gig that tours the elevators of Whangārei’s CBD, and much more are all part of Whangārei Fringe Festival’s newly launched bigger, weirder 2022 programme.

The second Whangārei Fringe Festival runs from September 30 to October 16, and features 124 arts events from Northland and around the country – up from 90 events at the 2020 debut festival. Of those 124 events, half are staged by Te Tai Tokerau creatives. Theatre, art, comedy, music, risque late-night shows, circus, digital technology and children’s shows are all part of the line-up, from up-and-coming and established artists.

Big names such as Morgana O’Reilly (Mean Mums, the Emmy-winning INSiDE) and Tom Sainsbury are coming to town. There are 17 world premieres, proving again that Fringe festivals are the place to see new and experimental work first.

Whangārei Fringe co-founder and producer Hayley Clark says the number of events registered has solidified the festival’s place on Northland’s event calendar.

“There are double the number of events registered from outside Northland this year, which is a treat for local audiences and shows more artists are being drawn to Te Tai Tokerau. We’ve had great support from local sponsors this year too, and this support just reinforces our belief in the value of having a Fringe festival in Whangārei,” Clark says.

“The festival’s theme is ‘Let’s get weird’ and it definitely feels like this year is a bit more experimental than 2020. There’s comedic lube wrestling, quirky theatre, next-level busking, and a couple of mysterious events, alongside the more crowd-pleasing and family-friendly shows. It’s as if the success of the first Whangārei Fringe has got local artists thinking, ‘We’ve done one Fringe, let’s come up with something even more creative this time.’ It’s really exciting.”

The festival also offers two major free family-friendly events. On October 2, Northpower Hātea Me Hearties brings the Hātea Loop alive with buskers, kids activities, music and a chance to see Fringe artists in action. Fabric artist Ron Te Kawa is travelling to Te Tai Tokerau to lead the creation of a community quilt at Hihiaua Cultural Centre, there’s a sexagesimal celebration at Claphams Clocks, a mermaid parade, and much more. On October 13, Fringe the City lights up Pūtahi Park with Fire Frenzy, music, lights and more Fringe fun.

Three Fringe-run venues will host multiple events each day, and 18 other venues around the CBD and nearby will also host events and exhibitions. There’s a jungle-themed dress-up party at Quarry Arts Centre, circus workshops in the Old Library, a coming-out picnic at Pūtahi Park, a human library at Whangārei Central Library, and several walking events and interactive trails.

An empty shop on John Street will turn into the new McLeod’s Fringe After Dark comedy venue, which was a magnet for festival-goers during the 2020 festival. Whangārei Fringe co-founder and producer Laurel Devenie says the city’s stand-up scene is growing, and Fringe was proud to play a part in that in 2020 by providing a platform for up-and-coming local talent to connect with audiences.

“Like last time, we hope the festival can strengthen and expand the capacity of our arts community – and develop our audiences too. There’s something about the collective energy of a festival that draws more people out of their cosy homes, and we really encourage people to throw themselves into it. Be curious, and check out events they might pass over at first glance,” says Devenie.

“The festival will continue to grow and develop as we keep exploring how we can reach new audiences and invite participation from even more people. This feels like a truly Whangārei-style event: homegrown, experimental, ambitious yet down to earth, rough around the edges, and real. It’s a celebration of our wonderful community – so grab a programme and get booking!”

Tickets are on sale now at, in person now from the Whangārei iSITE on Tarewa Rd, and from Tuesday 13 September (Tuesdays to Fridays 10am-1pm) at the Fringe box office, 116 Bank Street. Full festival details are available at, where audiences can also search for events by date and genre.

Whangārei Fringe is supported by funding partners Creative New Zealand and Northland Inc, and platinum sponsors Northpower and McLeod’s.


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