An early seasonal treat – announcing the first speakers for Aspiring Conversations 2022

We are excited to be able to announce our first two speakers for the 2022 Aspiring Conversations ideas festival (March 25-27, 2022).

Our ‘Wāhine Toa – Sports Women’ session will feature Farah Palmer, former Black Ferns captain, three-time Rugby World Cup winner and an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit and Rosara Joseph, a Commonwealth silver medallist, Olympic cyclist and Rhodes Scholar. They will discuss the achievements of sportswomen in Aotearoa, as well as the challenges and barriers they face. The session will be chaired by RNZ’s Kathryn Ryan, a former cricket rep herself.

Aspiring Conversations 2022 takes place in Wānaka from Friday 25 to Sunday 27 March and features high-calibre speakers, writers and thinkers discussing and debating the issues of today. We will announce our full programme on Monday 31 January.

Festival director Philip Tremewan says the programme reflects some of the most pressing issues today and promises to be informative, and inspiring. “We have a range of speakers across topics that include politics, history, the media, and the climate crisis.”

Tickets for the festival will be on sale from Friday 11 February from or by phone on 022 4 849 669. Our box office at Lake Wānaka Centre will also be open for in-person sales on February 11, 8.30am to 2pm.


Farah Palmer and Rosara Joseph


“Good medicine has always been about understanding stories”

“In this time of disruption, it has never been more important to know our patients thoroughly – where they live, how they manage, who and what they care about.” Ranjana Srivastava is an Australian oncologist, award-winning author and Fulbright scholar. Her latest book is called “A Better Death” and we are fortunate to have her speaking at Aspiring Conversations 2022. Read her latest Guardian articles here:

Life lessons from my dying professor

Even amid the covid pandemic, it is vital doctors understand every patient’s story

Dr Ranjana Srivastava


What the traffic lights mean for Aspiring Conversations 2022

We are working though what Aspiring Conversations will look like under the current Government traffic light system. If we are still in Orange, the event can go ahead with My Vaccine Pass requirements in place (attendees must be vaccinated and hold a Ministry of Health My Vaccine Passport to gain entry). Face coverings will be strongly encouraged as well as the usual contact tracing scanning. We will provide more information on our website in the coming weeks.


Love our Festivals? Show or renew your support!

We’ve finalised our programme for the 2022 Aspiring Conversations ideas festival (March 25-27), and an important part of this process is making sure we can balance our budget.

Our Patron and Benefactor supporters are a crucial part of our funding mix – ticket sales only cover a percentage of our costs for Aspiring Conversations. The rest of our expense are paid for through the support of grantmakers, sponsors and private supporters like you!

You can join for the next two years as a Patron for $600 or a Benefactor for $2500 and be a part of bringing two wonderful festivals to Wānaka. Our programme launch event on January 31, 2022, is especially for our Benefactors, Patrons and Sponsors.

FACT: A Patron membership costs less that the price of two coffees per week!

It’s easy to renew or join online here on our website!  Or you can direct deposit your donation into our Southern Lakes Arts Festival Trust bank account with your name as a reference (contact for info).

Not sure if you need to renew? Check the list of current supporters HERE on the Aspiring Conversations website.


Aspiring Conversation 2022 – Key dates!

Get ready for our Aspiring Conversations festival of ideas, three days of thought-provoking discussion and performance in March of 2022.

Key dates:

Programme launch: January 31, 2022
Priority ticket sales for festival Patrons, Benefactors and Sponsors: January 31st, 2022 from 7pm
General ticket sales start: February 11, 2022 from 8.30am
Aspiring Conversations festival of ideas: 25, 26, 27 March 2022


Wishing you all the best for a safe holiday season! 
– The Festival team


Arts and events in our region

Anna van Riel & Jonatans Rācenājs
Sunday 12 December, 3pm
Paddons Paddock, Wānaka

Join singer/songwriter Anna van Riel and guitarist Jonatans Rācenājs for an afternoon of folk, jazz and blues at Paddon Paddock Family Winemakers. Food and fantastic wine available. See more here.


Southern Soul At Christmas
Saturday 11 December, 7pm
Arrowtown Athenaeum Hall, Arrowtown

Brought to you by the Arrowtown Creative Arts Society, Southern Soul are proud to present a beautiful celebration of song featuring songs from artists such as Queen, Lorde, John Legend, as well as some musical theatre, an original composition, traditional choral pieces – with some Christmas favourites thrown in the mix. Tickets include complimentary canapes. Doors and cash bar open at 6.30pm. See more here.


Blowout Comedy New Year’s Day Special
Saturday 1 January 2022, 7pm
Rhyme and Reason Brewery, Wānaka

Blowout Comedy brings you a New Year’s Day comedy special. Hosted by cheeky and charming US comic Gavin Hews who performs regularly at The Classic Comedy Club in Auckland where he’s currently based. British comic Simon Kingsley Holmes is one of the feature acts. Simon’s known for his smart but accessible humour delivered with high energy British charm. Headlining the show is cult Kiwi comedy veteran Dan Brader who’s a seasoned performer having been in the game since 2007 with several years on the Aussie comedy circuit. See more here.


Lawrence Arabia Does Chant Darling
Saturday 15 January 2022, 8:30pm
Sherwood, Queenstown

This summer, Lawrence Arabia and full band go all out on the road with a long-awaited vinyl release, and a flurry of shows featuring the album played in full, alongside a selection of Lawrence’s deepest cuts, and biggest bangers. Since the release of his first album in 2006, Lawrence Arabia (aka James Milne) has become one of the pre-eminent figures of Aotearoa’s musical landscape, releasing five critically acclaimed and garlanded solo albums alongside a variety of diverse collaborative work. Tickets on sale now from Banished Music. See more here.