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, delivering the Wānaka Festival Of Colour and Aspiring Conversations, two of Aotearoa New Zealand's premier arts and ideas experiences.

Our vision is to create an extraordinary platform that not only inspires and entertains but also challenges our audiences while fostering community well-being.

Through a diverse range of artistic performances, thought-provoking discussions, and interactive events, we aim to captivate the hearts and minds of individuals from all walks of life. By showcasing both established and emerging artists, we ensure a dynamic and inclusive programme that represents the rich tapestry of Aotearoa's cultural landscape, interspersed with International acts giving us a peek of what's out there on the world's stage.

We believe that the arts have the power to ignite conversations, challenge perceptions, and bring people together. Our festivals endeavour to stimulate dialogue on critical issues, encouraging participants to question, reflect, and explore new ideas. Through this engagement, we aspire to promote personal growth, cultural understanding, and social cohesion.

At the heart of our festivals is the commitment to community well-being. We understand the transformative potential of art and ideas in enhancing individuals' lives and strengthening the fabric of the Upper Clutha. We actively collaborate with local organisations, schools, and community groups to ensure accessibility and inclusivity. By engaging with these groups, we aim to amplify voices, celebrate diversity, and promote a sense of belonging for all.

Join us at the next Aspiring Conversations 2024 Festival of Ideas, and Wānaka Festival of Colour 2025 where arts and ideas interweave, forging spectacular and unforgettable experiences.


Our Festivals would not be possible without the ongoing support from the Queenstown Lakes District Council, Otago Community Trust, Central Lakes Trust, and 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 
Joanna Hewson-Williams | School's Coordinator 
Laura Williamson | Event Manager
Katy Macpherson | Ticketing Manager
Jo Mills | Publicity Manager 
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.


Committing to improving.Remaining a viable and sustainable festival by maintaining diverse and sustainable funding and attracting a wide ranging audience.