The Wānaka Festival of Colour is the flagship arts event for the Southern Lakes region. Set against the autumn colours of the Upper Clutha Basin, the week-long festival offers a rich and diverse programme, celebrating the very best of the arts world.


Welcome to the Southern Lakes Arts Festival Trust, home of the Wānaka Festival Of Colour and Aspiring Conversations – two premier arts and ideas experiences in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Our vision is to create an extraordinary platform that inspires, entertains, and challenges, fostering community well-being. Through diverse performances, thought-provoking discussions, and interactive events, we aim to engage our community and captivate individuals from all walks of life. Our dynamic programme showcases both established and emerging artists, representing Aotearoa's artistic and cultural landscape alongside international acts.

We believe in the transformative power of the arts to spark conversations, challenge perceptions, and connect people. Alongside showcasing incredible performances that move our audiences, our festivals stimulate dialogue on critical issues, encouraging reflection and exploration of new ideas, encouraging personal growth, cultural understanding, and social cohesion.

Our festivals actively collaborate with local organisations, schools, and community groups to ensure accessibility and inclusivity. By engaging with these groups, we aim to raise voices, celebrate diversity, and promote a sense of belonging for all.

Join us at the next Wānaka Festival of Colour 2025 29 March-6 April,
and Aspiring Conversations 2026- Festival of Ideas & Kōrero


Our Festivals would not be possible without the ongoing support from the Queenstown Lakes District Council, Otago Community Trust, Central Lakes Trust, , our Naming Rights Sponsor - Creative New Zealand, our Naming Rights Sponsor - Milford Asset Management, our other funders, generous sponsors, Patrons and Benefactors, volunteers and staff who have contributed to  the Festivals since their beginnings.

The Festival Team

Sophie Kelly | Festival Director 
Ruth Heath | General Manager
Philip Tremewan | Aspiring Conversations Programmer 
Laura Williamson | Event Manager
Sally Norman | Venue Manager
Aaron Thulé | Ticketing Manager
Abbey Lewis | Ticketing Support
Michelle Lafferty - Elephant Talk | Publicist
Matt Quirk - Noko Studio | Graphic Design
Entertainment Solutions | Sound & AV
Dennis Schwarz - Lighting 
Joanna Hewson-Williams | School's Coordinator 
Danny Hones I Technical Director

Trustees & Advisors

Alistair King (Chair)
Fiona McPhee (Deputy Chair)
Trevor Crawford
Penny Deans
Nicola King
Jo McGregor
Annis Somerville
Mike Toepfer
Mark Verbiest
Annabel Wilson
Dennis Schwarz (Technical) 

Fiona Rowley I Settlor
Prue Wallis I Patron


The Wānaka Festival of Colour and Aspiring Conversations Festival of Ideas are founded on the guiding principles of the Southern Lakes Arts Festival Trust (SLAFT) to ignite creativity, foster connections, and enrich our Southern Lakes communities through transformative arts, experiences and ideas.


Igniting creativity, fostering connections, and enriching our Southern Lakes' communities through transformative arts, experiences and ideas.


The Southern Lakes Arts Festival Trust delivers diverse and captivating top-quality arts and ideas events that entertain, challenge, and celebrate our people, place and culture, fostering a deep sense of engagement and appreciation among our audiences.



Connecting the community through participation, volunteering and street events to engender a community sense of pride and ownership of the Wānaka Festival of Colour.


Ensure the festival represents tangata whenua and Aotearoa’s diverse culture. Ensure The Festival of Colour is accessible across socioeconomic, physical and neurodiverse groups.


Committed to improving our carbon footprint. Remaining a viable and sustainable festival by maintaining diverse and sustainable funding and attracting a wide ranging audience.