The new kids on the block

Marilyn Waring and Chloe Swarbrick. PHOTO: Cynthia Qui Photography

We are excited to share our first two speakers for the 2020 Aspiring Conversations ideas festival (April 3-5, 2020).

Our ‘New Kids on the Block’ session will feature Marilyn Waring and Chloe Swarbrick, New Zealand?s two youngest members of Parliament in the past 100 years.

They will discuss their experiences of political life and what has changed, and what hasn’t, in the years across their terms in Parliament.

Aspiring Conversations 2020 takes place in Wanaka from Friday 3 to Sunday 5 April, and features 11 events with high-calibre speakers, writers and thinkers discussing and debating the issues of today.

We will announce our full programme on Monday 3 February.

Festival director Philip Tremewan says the programme reflects the issues which are most pressing for our community today, and promises to be entertaining and inspiring. We have a range of speakers this year who have real expertise in their fields, from politics to history, taxation to music, and fake news to the climate crisis.


Tickets for the festival will be on sale from Friday 14 February at or by phone on 022 4 849 669.

Our box office at Lake Wanaka Centre will also be open for in-person sales on February 14 and 15.

Bird songs

Baritone and bird lover Julien Van Mellaerts.

Did you catch baritone Julien Van Mellaerts and pianist James Baillieu at the 2019 Festival of Colour? Here they are performing Gareth Farr’s Ornithological Anecdotes, a setting of four poems about New Zealand birds, including the Tui’s song, which was commissioned by the Festival of Colour.



Love our festivals? Show us your support!

Our Patron and Benefactor supporters are a crucial part of our funding mix ? ticket sales only covered 28% of our costs for the 2018 Aspiring Conversations.

The rest of our expenses are paid for through the support of grantmakers, sponsors and private supporters like you.

Our 2020 festival of ideas will run from April 3-5, 2020, and our programme launch event will happen on February 3, 2020. Patrons, Benefactors and Sponsors will be able to book earlybird tickets from this date.

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 account with your name as a reference
  • post or drop off a cheque to the festival office: PO Box 630, Wanaka, 9343
  • get directly in touch with General Manager Laura Williamson on, or on 443 4172.

Wishing you the happiest of holidays

And from all the team at the Festival of Colour and Aspiring Conversations, have a great holiday season and a happy New Year!

We’ll look forward to seeing you at the Aspiring Conversations ideas festival, April 3-5 2020.