Cardrona Folk Festival 2016

Cardrona Valley, Central Otago

21-24 October 2016 (Labour Weekend)











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This year marks our 40th year in the same venue but is actually the 41st festival (we cheated in 1979 when we switched from March to Labour weekend.)   So this is another milestone in the history of this little festival, the longest running festival in the same venue in New Zealand.    As usual everything takes place at the historic Cardrona Hall and surrounding reserve, and runs from Friday 21st to Monday 24th October 2016.   This year our guest line up features three of our old favourites who we are always pleased to welcome back to Cardrona, plus an exciting UK guest.  





Beverley was supposed to be here last year with husband Alan, but unfortunately had to pull out at 24 hour’s notice due to a health problem.   So we have rebooked her for this year.   Bev is well known around the New Zealand folk scene for her beautiful pure voice and her wonderful renditions of both traditional and contemporary folk songs.   She does this either unaccompanied or with Alan playing the loveliest subtle guitar behind her beautiful songs.   Of course you don’t get one without the other, so Alan will also be here and will definitely be featured in the final concert at least, with his ethnic American blues, and his wonderful autoharp playing, which so wowed the audience in 2015.   They are two of the New Zealand folk scene’s most popular singers and musicians.  




Ken Nicol is a guitarist, singer, songwriter and producer from Preston in England. His music covers the spectrum from blues to rock, and effortlessly takes in folk, jazz, ragtime, ballads and more along the way.    Ken was a member of the legendary Albion Band from 1997 until September 2001 when he left in order to spend more time on other projects. In December 2002, he successfully joined forces with Steeleye Span, working with the band for eight years, most recently on their 2009 40th Anniversary Tour during which they visited the USA and Australia. During his time with Steeleye he recorded four albums with the band: “They Called Her Babylon”, “Winter”, “Bloody Men” and “Cogs, Wheels and Lovers”.   Ken left the band in 2010 and has been working mainly solo since then.

As well as making and producing music, Ken has also worked with guitar makers Fylde Guitars to develop the Ken Nicol Signature Guitar. Beautifully constructed from cedar and rosewood, its incredible sound led to Acoustic Magazine giving this guitar an unprecedented 99% rating.



CHRIS PENMAN (Hamilton):

Another fine singer and performer of traditional songs, it is many years now since Chris was last at our festival.   She was here regularly in our earlier years, when she lived in Portobello, and was on Martin’s second album “Back from the Hills” singing on the title track.   Combined with the talents of Bev, this will mean that 2016 will go down as a real “Singer’s Festival.”




Once again our dear friend Barrie, New Zealand’s finest accordion player (not to mention the many other instruments he plays with amazing dexterity) has agreed to come down from his new home in Nelson to anchor the Saturday night barn dance – and no doubt to play with other musicians over the weekend.   He might bring another fantastic Celtic musician with him – to be confirmed.





Will take place as usual, and will be overseen by Barrie McDonald and others.   All musicians and dance callers will be welcome to join in on stage and make up a traditional “Big Ugly”



Begun over 25 years ago, this has become one of the most popular events at Cardrona and the idea of 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.



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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 be $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, at a price, up the road at the Cardrona Hotel.   We regret that we do not have showers, as being a public reserve, we are unable to build anything to cope with this.   The river is not far away!


The ski chalets next door to the site are no longer available, as they 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.  


Pre-registration is not yet necessary, though if the festival gets any more popular this may have to come one day.  However it is really helpful to us if you could pay in advance.   Our bank account details are 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: martincurtis(at) (you need to substitute the @ sign, to discourage spammers!)


Last Updated: 31st August 2016