Taranaki’s favourite seven-week-long summer festival is back, and it’s bigger and brighter than ever.

The TSB Festival of Lights has been a staple of summer in Taranaki for a quarter of a century, and the 2018/19 year is set to be no different. The festival pulls in over 100,000 people into the beautiful Pukekura Park, 52 hectares of pristine native forest smack-bang in the centre of New Plymouth city.

Consisting of 16 light installations, ten of which are brand new, the festival is sure to be a hit. Each night from 8 pm, the park turns into a rainbow of colour, mixed with a plethora of local and national talent performing on stages dotted around, with the likes of Troy Kingi, The Miltones and Nadia Reid performing. Also, for the first time this year, New Year’s Eve is set to be a hit, with the lights on all night, mixed with hours of talent culminating with WOMAD hit group and Big Aroha performers The Slacks.



The 52-hectare park is no stranger to an influx of visitors and tourists. Over the years, its famous cricket ground has hosted World Cup matches and been a fundamental set for Tom Cruise’s 2003 film The Last Samurai. On top of that, the TSB Bowl of Brooklands on the other side of the park has been labelled by Fleetwood Mac as their “favourite venue to perform” and has hosted performances by Elton John, Bryan Adams, Cliff Richard, UB40, and Jack Johnson, among others.

This year, the festival has debuted ten different new light installations, including ‘Wisteria’, which turns the entire lake-side cafe into an awe-inspiring bulb of colour. Also new this year is ‘Seasons’ which takes an entire area of forest on a journey through the four seasons, using surround-sound audio and lighting visuals to imitate weather patterns.


Returning for its third year in a row is the TSB Tunnel of Light, an emotion-provoking tunnel beneath thousands of colour changing LEDs, beautiful from directly underneath or 100 metres away. Using sound and cleverly developed lighting features, the tunnel changes colour to imitate firework displays, weather, sunrise and sunsets and famous works of art, turning the bridge into somewhat of a “TV display” as someone beside me labelled it

Without a doubt, the festival is due to be a hit. Supported once again by TSB and the New Plymouth District Council, the festival draws tens of thousands of people to the region in the summer absence of snow on the mountain and famous rough winter surf, typically the region’s tourism highlights. Not only is it a great way to spend your summer evenings, it’s also entirely free, including all performances and community activities.


One person I spoke to said it’s been a “true highlight” in Taranaki for the last 25 years. The ‘light’ part of that is certainly true, and I have no doubt people walking out the gates behind bright tall green forestry and lush native bush will be on a real high.

The TSB Festival of Lights opened on the 16th of December and continues until the 3rd of February. Entry is free.

ETHAN GRIFFITHS is TEARAWAY’s Political Editor. Young, passionate and a wannabe babysitter for Neve Ardern, Ethan won’t stop talking about politics. Likes a bit of cricket, wearing trendy ties and is in love with Jeff the purple wiggle.