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A regional highlight returns

After a long four-year hiatus, the HighLight Carnival of Lights is back – arriving not only on Wairarapa’s doorstep but also in a safe pair of local hands.

Pitched as an illuminating and immersive experience, the festival will kick off at its new location just over the hill in Upper Hutt’s Brewtown over Easter – delivered by Wings Over Wairarapa director and Wairarapa-educated Carla Steed.

Known for drawing thousands in its previous iterations, this year’s four-day event will include a mash-up of international artists, performers, and light installations to create a carnival-like atmosphere.

Among the international headlining acts are Sydney-based Atelier Sisu’s Evanescent – a creation of immersive bubbles – and Firefly Field, which showcases a dazzling array of glowing, darting, and hovering elaterid beetles created by Netherland’s Studio Toer.

New Zealand art installations will also be on display, including the pohutukawa frond-inspired Filament from Angus Muir, which features 25 wands sweeping out of a steel base.

Steed, excited by the variety of installations this year, said there had been a huge effort behind the scenes to deliver an experience for everyone to enjoy.

“We are certain event attendees will experience the special creative laboratory of performers, artists, installations, and technicians mashed up to bring the magic.

“Kids, and probably most adults too, will welcome the UV Spaghetti installation, which this year will have 9km of glowing rope to get tangled in.”

Since setting up as a charitable trust in 2021 when the HighLight Carnival of Lights ownership changed hands, Autism New Zealand also stands to benefit from this year’s event.

Chosen as the 2023 charity partner, donations to Autism New Zealand can be made throughout the duration of the festival, and the programme will include a low sensory evening – ensuring the event is accessible and inclusive for all, festival organisers said.

Brewtown’s craft breweries and eateries, as well as a variety of food trucks, will also be serving a smorgasbord of treats throughout the four days of the festival.

Festival organisers said tickets were on sale now, with children 14 and under able to attend for free.

Tickets provide access to the carnival hub at Brewtown, but there would several light installations dotted around Upper Hutt that can be enjoyed at no cost.

    HighLight Carnival of Lights, Thursday, April 6 – Sunday, April 9.
    Tickets [$10 per adult] on sale now.

Mary Argue
Mary Argue
Mary Argue is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with an interest in justice and the region’s emergency services, regularly covering Masterton District Court, Fire and Emergency and Police.

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