Cardrona Folk Festival 2019

Cardrona Valley, Central Otago

25-28 October 2019 (Labour Weekend)







Festival (5B)

Festival (3)

Festival (6B)



This year marks our 44th festival, the longest running festival at the same venue in New Zealand.    As usual everything takes place at the historic Cardrona Hall and surrounding reserve, and runs from Friday 25th to Monday 28th October 2019.   This year we have a totally NZ guest list, with two excellent musical acts confirmed and another possible mystery guest.      




HIDDEN TALENT (Christchurch)


A new name for a group of musicians whose wonderful talent is not at all hidden to those on the folk music scene who have seen them either together or individually for many years.   They have a long history of involvement in the folk world, and thoroughly enjoy making music together, as well as working on their own individual musical projects. They play a wide range of songs and tunes, from traditional to contemporary, country to old pop standards, with a fair bit of quirky and laughter thrown into the mix.   They are:-

SUE GALVIN (beautiful vocals, superb guitar, fiddle and other instruments, as well as a delightfully zany sense of humour).

TONY KIESANOWSKI (vocals, guitar, great songwriter and very visually entertaining performance poet).

GARY ELFORD (vocals, guitar, wonderful bush poet and New Zealand’s premier caller of bush dances).

JANE EDMED (vocals, trombone and flute and zany poetry as well).


They will be the main anchor for the Saturday night ceilidh and will also present a Sunday afternoon mini-concert of some of their very varied material.  It’s almost a sure bet that all of them will appear individually in the bush poetry session as well.


Hidden Talent




HELEN CAPES (Hawkes Bay / Northumberland)


I first met Helen at the 2nd West Auckland Acoustic Music Festival last December and was very impressed with her singing and playing.   Helen sings traditional and contemporary songs with a very powerful and true voice.   She is also a leading exponent of the Northumbrian Small pipes, bringing her Northumbrian heritage, enthusiasm and skill into a show full of laughter, thoughtful moments and glorious tunes. She has delighted audiences in England, New Zealand and Australia, with shows that are varied, entertaining and intimate. She is also a great festival person, getting involved in everything that is going on and has a great knack of making people laugh.


Tap your feet to polkas and hornpipes, soar with beautiful airs, and sing along with the mellow tones of Helen's rich voice. “Helen doesn't just sing a song, she tells a story.”


Helen on the steps (002)




Begun 30 years ago, this has become one of the most popular events at Cardrona and the idea of a bush poetry session has now spread to most other festivals around the country. Each year it is getting longer and better with most of it consisting of hilarious and original material.  





This will take the usual format of a traditional “Big Ugly” band which will be fronted by members of Hidden Talent, with Gary Elford doing the bulk of calling the dances.  Other musicians and callers are most welcome to join in the evening’s fun – in fact it is absolutely essential that you do.    At the same time as the ceilidh, non-dancers can meet up in the wee church for an evening of singing and playing.


Festival (2)

Festival (7B)

Festival (4)

Festival (1)


As always there will be a couple of blackboard concerts, so that all singers and musicians - and children - can get a chance to let us hear a couple of their songs or tunes.    Our unaccompanied harmony session in the wee church on Sunday morning is always very popular, with contributions welcome from anyone who has a good chorus song we can join in with.    There is always plenty of space and time for jamming sessions.   Remember to bring earplugs if you don’t want to hear music in the small hours – after all, this is a folk music festival, and there is always time for “Just One More Chorus.”


The cost for a full weekend ticket (Friday to Monday) will remain at $90, with secondary children at $40 (wee ones are free). Bring everything you need, as all we supply is a flat (and usually dry) paddock, a couple of taps, hopefully fine weather and heaps of music and fun. The new luxury toilets are now working perfectly but the historic long-drops have also been recently renovated for festival-goers who don’t like queuing or suffer from nostalgia (there are pills for that too!)   This is a self-catering festival but meals are available up the road at the Cardrona Hotel.  The recently established “Cardrona General Store” just across the road has a small range of groceries, milk and bread as well as serving excellent coffee.  We regret that we do not have showers, as being a public reserve, we are unable to build anything to cope with this.  


We regret that we cannot accommodate dogs at the festival – not everyone likes them and our site is too small to find a separate area for dog owners (unlike festivals such as Tui.)  Please kennel them for the weekend.


Those arriving with extra large and heavy camper buses, please find the festival organiser on arrival for directions on where to park.    Some of the ground can sometimes be too soft for big vehicles, especially on the reserve.  


The ski chalets next door to the site are no longer available, as they now have permanent residents in them.    Those who want accommodation should contact Ben Brae resort or the Cardrona Hotel.     Please make your own bookings for these.  Other accommodation is available in Wanaka 25 kms away, along with a wide choice of restaurants and cafes.  Best book now though.  


Although pre-registration for the festival is not yet necessary, it is really helpful to us if you could book and pay in advance.   Our bank account details are as follows:  06 0943 0012701-00


Hope to see you at the festival

Martin & Kay



For further information and bookings contact

Martin & Kay Curtis, 2256 Cardrona Valley Road, RD2, Wanaka 9382

Phone 03 443 8152

Email: martincurtisnz(at) (you need to substitute the @ sign, to discourage spammers!)


Last Updated: 1st September 2019