It’s not often you see drag queens taking centre stage at Wairarapa events.

But, for the programme launch of this year’s Kokomai Creative Festival on Thursday night, it made for the perfect entertainment.

More than 65 events across the fields of music, theatre, dance, visual arts, film and literature will be held at venues across the region including rural halls, churches, parks, and the Carterton Event Centre, as part of the festival, which runs from October 13 to 22.

The festival programme was launched with great fanfare at The White Swan in Greytown by festival director Heidi Holbrook and chairman of the Wairarapa Arts Festival Trust, Bob Francis.

After a colourful live performance by drag legends of One Night Only, the pair told invited guests they were excited to bring national and international acts to the region.

“This year’s world class programme brings top New Zealand performers, artists and writers to the Wairarapa, alongside international artists from Germany, Switzerland, USA, Australia, Canada and Ireland,’ Ms Holbrook said.

“Compiling the programme has taken two years of work — we wanted to make sure we have the best acts this October and we can proudly say we do.”

Kokomai opens Friday, October 13 with the innovative and beautiful show Valerie, and the Aotearoa drag legends of One Night Only — both being performed at the Carterton Events Centre.

Other festival highlights include Otto and Astrid: Eurosmash!

This hilarious Princess and Prince of Art Rock and Europop are coming all the way from Germany to Carterton.

The show is expected to appeal to fans of Spinal Tap or Flight of the Conchords.

At the other end of the spectrum is Julia Deans show “The Saddest Songs in the Universe”.

The kiwi songstress, who sold out 2015’s festival with the show Both Sides Now.

But by no means is the rural community missing out on hosting some stellar performances.

The Pirinoa Community Hall will host the comedy, The Ballad of Blackbone Joe, a daft and gruesome tale of a murder set in a small country town accompanied by rag’n’bone live music.

It will also be performed in the Tinui Memorial Hall.

During the programme launch, Mr Francis said the third running of Kokomai would bring huge benefits to the community.

“The inaugural Kokomai festival was held in 2013 and since then support for the event has grown significantly. “During Kokomai 2015 we had 5000 people enjoy the entertainment and this year we are looking to grow those numbers further.

“With the support of our sponsors, patrons, volunteers, our organising team and our audiences, Kokomai 2017 promises to delight.”

Mr Francis said there were still opportunities for individuals, local businesses or sponsors to be involved in the Festival including becoming a Friend of the Festival, volunteering or attending the events.

The full programme is available at www.kokomai.co.nz or via Facebook/kokomaicreativefestival. Tickets are available from the Wellington and Wairarapa i-SITES and through www.eventfinda.co.nz from 9am on Friday, September 8.