Nelson art, music and events

Creative people have been drawn to Nelson Tasman for decades, so your visits to galleries, artists' studios, markets and festivals will reveal extraordinary originality.

Nelson Tasman is a region of ideas, talent and energy. Together they add up to a creative scene that can be enjoyed in lots of different ways. You can book your trip to Nelson to coincide with an event or festival, you can follow an art trail map to meet artists at their studios and galleries, or you can visit one of the region's acclaimed public galleries.

Find a Nelson art gallery that captures your imagination

If you're an art purist, The Suter Art Gallery (Te Aratoi o Whakatū) is a must-visit. This Nelson gallery sprang from an Anglican bishop's love of art and painting; today it's one of New Zealand's leading exhibition spaces for both traditional and modern art. Admission is free.

Follow a Nelson Tasman art trail and meet the makers

Nelson Tasman is a super-creative area offering multiple opportunities to meet artists and watch art being created. Some are in the city; others are in countryside areas.

March is when craft beer connoisseurs flock to Nelson for MarchFest, an event that combines exceptional beer with great live music.

An exciting place to witness creativity in motion is the Höglund glass blowing studio, which has been a visitor attraction in Appleby for nearly four decades. The Höglund family do their magic with simple wooden tools and stainless steel blow pipes to produce awe-inspiring glass art creations. Their studio is an easy 20-minute drive from Nelson city and it's accompanied by a large gallery of completed works.

Mapua, Ruby Bay and Moutere are home to a surprisingly diverse range of creatives, including glass sculptors, painters, potters, ceramicists, furniture makers and weavers. You'll also find some excellent art and craft galleries at Mapua Wharf.

At the northern end of Trafalgar Square in Nelson city is the Jens Hansen studio, where the One Ring was made for the Lord of the Rings movies. The display cabinets are full of intricate works that look like they've come from another world. If you're looking for your own personal ring of power, this is the place to have it designed and made.

What's on? Nelson Tasman events that are full of flavour, fizz and fun

Nelson Tasman's love of extraordinary art, food, wine and craft beer feeds into an appealing year-round events calendar. Here are some of the biggies:

  • Bay Dreams is an annual music festival in January that brings over 20,000 people to the Nelson Tasman region. A must-do for festival-goers!
  • Every two years at the beginning of February, Nelson hosts the Adam Chamber Music Festival, a collection of concerts featuring small orchestras from near and far.
  • March is when craft beer connoisseurs flock to Nelson for MarchFest, an event that combines exceptional beer with great live music. All the beers available at MarchFest are especially made for the event and have never previously been tasted by the public.
  • The K2M run, walk and cycle event in May takes place on the Great Taste Trail from Kaiteriteri to Mapua wharf. A great reason to come and explore Nelson Tasman's finest scenery, cuisine and trails.
  • The Nelson Fringe Festival embraces all things hilarious, strange and unexpected. As well as shows, it offers workshops that let you develop your own on-stage skills.
  • The Light Nelson Festival happens in winter bi-annually. It's an outdoor exhibition of light installations, clustered around the lily bond and trees of Queens Gardens, Albion Square and the NMIT campus.
  • If you have Irish ancestry, you'll love the Ceol Aneas Irish Music Festival held on Queen's Birthday Weekend. This event focuses on lute, fiddle, free reed, banjo/mandolin, guitar and whistle music. There's a ceili dance too.
  • The annual Nelson Arts Festival, held in October, involves a multitude of art and performance events. A special highlight is the street parade, famous for its fun, colour and creativity.
  • The NZ Cider Festival takes place in November, and with Nelson Tasman being the largest cider region in New Zealand producing over 60% of the country's cider it's a must-see for cider seekers!
  • Feast for the Senses is a winter moveable feast extravaganza where diners experience three restaurants (one for each course) and entertainment as they move through the city.
  • The Nelson Super Slam (NZ Beach Tour), a 2-day beach volleyball tournament in January on the beautiful Tahunanui Beach showcases Olympic and Commonwealth Games level athletes, including a junior tournament to encourage local younger athletes into the sport.

Keep exploring Nelson Tasman