Life in colour: Recent festivals & ceremonies books

Matariki book cover

In every corner of the world you are bound to come across a celebration unique to that culture. From music festivals to Mardi Gras to Matariki, you can learn so much about the world in this book list below.

50 festivals to blow your mind / Ryan, Kalya
“There’s something about festivals, be it a giant, joyous party or a respectful honouring of tradition; a seemingly bizarre adherence to ritual or a celebration of a quirky obsession; it’s a uniquely human thing to be involved in. We like to get together to dance, sing, eat, laugh, drink, dress up, light fires, take our clothes off, throw tomatoes at each other, roll around in mud–just about anything really, but we seem to like doing it in really large groups with bags and bags of enthusiasm. They take our desire to have a good time with our friends to a global level.” (Catalogue)

Half a million strong : crowds and power from Woodstock to Coachella / Arnold, Gina
“From baby boomers to millennials, attending a big music festival has basically become a cultural rite of passage in America. In Half a Million Strong, music writer and scholar Gina Arnold explores the history of large music festivals in America and examines their impact on American culture. Studying literature, films, journalism, and other archival detritus of the counter cultural era, Arnold looks closely at a number of large and well-known festivals, including the Newport Folk Festival, Woodstock, Altamont, Wattstax, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, and others to map their cultural significance in the American experience.” (Catalogue)

Matariki : te whetū tapu o te tau / Matamua, Rangi
“In midwinter, Matariki rises in the pre-dawn sky, and its observation is celebrated with incantations on hilltops at dawn, balls, exhibitions, dinners and a vast number of events. The Matariki tradition has been re-established, and its regeneration coincides with a growing interest in Māori astronomy. Still, there remain some unanswered questions about how Matariki was traditionally observed. What is Matariki? Why did Māori observe Matariki? How did Māori traditionally celebrate Matariki? When and how should Matariki be celebrated? This book seeks answers to these questions and explores what Matariki was in a traditional sense so it can be understood and clebrated in our modern society.” (Catalogue)

New Orleans / Karlin, Adam
“Features sections on Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest and other NOLA festivals; Showcases the best of New Orleans, Jackson Square, Bourbon Street, Audubon Zoological Gardens, and Lafayette Cemetery No 1.” (Catalogue)

Harry & Meghan : the royal wedding book / Sadat, Halima
“Experience the heartwarming tale of how the dashing playboy prince fell in love with the beautiful American actress. Meghan Markle becomes the second American and the first mixed-race person to marry into the royal family, bringing with her a breath of fresh air as the House of Windsor navigates the twenty-first century. This deluxe souvenir celebrates their truly modern love story and their special day, from their wildly different childhoods and remarkable romance to the key events preceding the wedding, the titles bestowed by the Queen, the bride’s gorgeous gown, and the grand nuptials with their pomp, pageantry, and enchantment.” (Catalogue)

Join us for literary festival Beyond the Page! 7-22 July

After a successful start in 2017, Beyond the Page is back for the July School Holidays.

Last year over 4,000 people attended events in our region’s libraries and galleries. This year tamariki can once again go on an amazing literary and creative journey during the school holidays at hundreds of events around the region at New Zealand’s largest literary festival for children.

Sir Jon Trimmer will be back with Tales from the Ballet, Wellington’s Kings and Queens will be reading hand-picked stories at Rainbow Storytimes, award-winning Kiwi authors and creators (such as Sasha Cotter and Josh Morgan) will share their enthusiasm and knowledge with the next generation of storytellers, the BARK NZ brigade will be bringing their furry friends along, robots will be unleashed, and so much more – there’s something on for all members of the whānau!

Stay tuned for further information releases over the coming weeks. Follow Beyond the Page on Facebook, and check out the website, for up to date information on events near you.

New books – festivals and ceremonies

Celebrations and festivals mark our progress through each year, and are special times to enjoy with family, or opportunities to indulge our interests and celebrate life. This selection of new books on festivals and ceremonies is full of vibrant colour and joyful celebrations of culture. We hope you enjoy them!

Syndetics book coverAround the world in 500 festivals : the world’s most spectacular celebrations / Steve Daley.
“Around the World in 500 Festivals is a rare book that will fascinate and inspire. A large-format, beautifully illustrated coffee-table volume, it is a photographic exploration of the richness and variety of the worlds most colourful, moving, joyful, and spectacular celebrations. Thousands of festivals, great and small, take place around the world every year. ” (Abridged from Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverPasefika : the Festival of Pacific Arts / Floyd K. Takeuchi.
“Every four years since 1972, the Pacific Islands’ best dancers and cultural practitioners gather to perform. The Festival of Pacific Arts, as this amazing event is known, is a celebration unlike any other held in Oceania. The Festival is a two-week showcase of the finest dancers, singers, carvers and other cultural masters from across the Pacific. This book, the first published about the Festival of Pacific Arts, tells the story of the 10th Festival that was held in American Samoa in mid-2008. More than 2,000 cultural practitioners traveled to Tutuila Island for the 10th Festival of Pacific Arts. Hundreds of visitors from around the world, plus thousands of resident Samoans, gathered on the shores of Pago Pago Harbor to watch performance after performance. This book is the story of that special gathering of the best of the Pacific Islands.” (

Syndetics book coverA perfect haze : the illustrated history of the Monterey International Pop Festival / Harvey Kubernik and Kenneth Kubernik ; foreword by Lou Adler ; afterword by Michelle Phillips.
“The sights and sounds of one of the most famous music festivals in history come to life in this extraordinary compilation of photography, memorabilia, and firsthand accounts from the Summer of Love’s biggest event.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRick Steves’ European Christmas / by Rick Steves and Valerie Griffith.
“Rick Steves, America’s expert on Europe, teams up with co-author Valerie Griffith to explore the rich and fascinating mix of traditions-Christian, pagan, musical, and edible-that led to the Christmas festivities we enjoy today.Rick brings home an authentic, surprising portrait of holiday celebrations in England, Norway, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Switzerland. Romans cook up eels, Salzburgers shoot off guns, Germans buy “prune people” at markets, Norwegian kids hope to win marzipan pigs, and Parisians ice-skate on the Eiffel Tower.With thoughtful insights, vibrant photos, and more than a dozen recipes, this book captures the spirit of the season. It’s a delightful way to learn something new-and old-about Christmas.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLet’s celebrate! : festival poems from around the world / edited by Debjani Chatterjee & Brian D’Arcy ; illustrated by Shirin Adl.Let’s Celebrate!: Festival Poems from Around the World
“Twenty-four festivals are presented through poetry in different forms, some of which may be new to readers. The celebrations presented are a mix of religious and secular, and each one is briefly explained in the back matter. The selections range from classics by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Pablo Neruda to entries by “Anonymous” and the editors of the book. Colorful, mixed-media illustrations” (Abridged from School Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverLighting our world : a year of celebrations / written by Catherine Rondina ; illustrated by Jacqui Oakley.
“From the children’s festival of Tet Trung Thu in Vietnam to the holy month of Ramadan, Rondina and Oakley offer an informative, month-by-month look at global holidays, both religious and secular. A February/March spread highlights Las Fallas, a festival honoring Saint Joseph in Valencia, Spain, as well as the Lenten Carnival in Martinique; a July spread covers independence celebrations in six countries, including Argentina, Belgium, and France. Oakley’s acrylic paintings have a weathered quality that recalls faded murals, while conjuring appropriately festive atmospheres for each occasion. Ages 7-10.” (Publisher Weekly)

NZ Festival

An Invitation to a Special pre-Wellington Arts Festival Event

Wellington City Libraries are pleased to invite you to a special pre-festival event on Friday 14th February at 1.00 pm on the ground floor, Central Library, Victoria Street.

Join us to hear New Zealand Festival Artistic Director, Shelagh Magadza (you may have heard her talk to Lynn Freeman on National Radio) about organising this year’s festival and the highlights we can expect. She will also talk about the history of Wellington’s Art Festivals, and some of the wonderful entertainment they provided, a fabulous chance to remember. She will answer any questions you may have.

This event is FREE and will begin at 1.00 pm.

The Festival begins on Friday 21st February and ends on 16th March, with Writers Week beginning on Friday 7th March until Wednesday 12 March.

Listen to some great music at the Positively Pasifika festival

pasifika festival
It’s a bumper weekend of events this Anniversary Weekend, and today sees the Positively Pasifika 2014 festival at Waitangi Park.

There’ll be traditional Pacific food, crafts, cultural groups and contemporary dance performances, film screenings, a dance and costume competition, children’s activities and even a hula class.  The event is being MC’d by The Laughing Samoans.

Of course there’ll be great music to listen to all day: if you’re keen to hear more of Bella Kotolo‘s or Rosita Vai’s music after hearing them, we have their CDs for you to borrow and of course Laughing Samoans‘ movies.

A full programme of the day and film screenings is available on the Wellington City Council website, or see the Festival’s Facebook page for updates.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Filmfest memories

Library staff have been remembering films from previous festivals:

When we were kings (1997 festival)
I bought tickets to this one for all my family in a fit of righteous movie mania and my brothers and in-laws and mother and sister, thankfully, enjoyed it. Muhammed Ali has bucket loads of carisma. There’s a witch doctor sub-plot, a govenment dictatorship and blood on the steps of the stadium, groovy music from James Brown and hope, sweet, hope. It didn’t seem to matter that we were in the back row in the old Embassy’s uncomfortable seats – we still talk about this film.

Ringu, (2000)
I saw [this film] (later remade by Hollywood as The Ring) at the festival before Japanese and Asian horror became huge, and all the decent ones got remade. It was the first horror film I had seen in a long time that actually scared me. I could not look at a TV set after dark for a long while after seeing this film.

Hana-bi (Fireworks) by Takeshi Kitano (1998)
Basically a Japanese cop film with surprising swings in mood. Takeshi Kitano drew the wonderful colour-spotted pictures that provide the hope and upside to what is often a brutal, tragic film. One of those seminal festival films for me in that it seemed to extend my idea of what film could do and so many things about it linger still – the music, the cinematography, the understated acting, the suprises – probably Kitano’s best.

Kung Fu Hustle (2005)
This Kung Fu concoction knocked me out one late, late winter’s night. Stephen Chow’s unevenly brash mixture of broad slapstick humour, brilliant stunts, CGI effects and a seemingly endless string of super humanly endowed villains sent me back to a childhood of similar movies. Similar, but in no way as good – Kung Fu Hustle made me feel like a Kung Fu kid again…

Helvetica (2007)
I sat in the theatre surrounded by Massey students watching this captivating film about a typeface. And not just any typeface – Helvetica was shown to be symbolic of its era, ubiquitous in government signage, and even possibly the cause of the Vietnam War (ok, they were stretching). I’ve never looked at typefaces the same way since seeing this film – it’s well worth watching.

Drowning by Numbers (1987)
Quirky and strange, but very entertaining, I saw this film amongst three others on the same day, as you do during the Festival. It really stood out with its cleverness and baudy humour: 3 women all named Cissie Colpitts drown their husbands. I liked it far more than Greenaway’s other films – in fact I bought the script months later (and no, it wasn’t just to find out where each of the numbers had been shown).

My Mother’s Smile – The Religion Hour
My favourite must have been in 2003 (when I was younger and everything seemed newer).  They had a film that had been banned by the Vatican called “My Mother’s Smile” a.k.a “The Religion Hour”. It was about an athiest who opposes the canonisation of his mother, who was killed by his mentally-disturbed brother.

What films would you recommend from filmfests past? Feel free to add them in the comments below…