Cardrona Folk Festival 2018

Cardrona Valley, Central Otago

19-22 October 2018 (Labour Weekend)







Festival (5B)

Festival (3)

Festival (6B)



This year marks our 43rd 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 19th to Monday 22nd October 2018. This year the UK guest I had hopefully lined up was not able to come, due to the strain of such long flights. As a result we have a totally NZ guest list, with two excellent musical acts.  




FOLKALYPTICA (South Island):

The members of Folkalyptica 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. This amazing group was convened for the Whare Flat Folk Festival at New Year, and just blew everyone away with their superb musicianship, incredible versatility and the great variety of their material. Their final rendition of one of the complicated compositions from the legendary Irish show “Riverdance” was just magnificent and I virtually booked them on the spot for Cardrona. The group include several well know names on the South Island folk music scene. They are:

HELEN WEBBY (celtic harp), SOPHIA BIDWELL (accordion), SEAN MANNING (guitar, whistles, cittern, bodhran), LINDSEY SHIELDS (vocals, guitar, bodhran) and ALEX BIDWELL (cello, step dance).

Join them for a musical trip through the Celtic regions of Europe, featuring lively folk tunes punctuated with songs both traditional and new.  As well as two concert spots, they will anchor the Saturday night ceilidh band and we will also feature the songwriting skills of Lindsey Shields in an afternoon concert. Lindsey will be showcasing her new solo album “ECHOES.”


Folkalyptica Sept 2018 (005)




GRAHAM WARDROP (Christchurch and the World!):

It is 4 years since Graham was last “officially” a guest at our festival, so this is a most welcome return for New Zealand’s amazing world class finger style guitarist and superb composer and songwriter. Graham is recognised in many countries around the world for his superb musicianship. He has had multiple tours of Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Papua New Guinea and Hong Kong to name but a few exotic places. He spent several years touring Australia as a key member of the Slim Dusty band and on numerous occasions has been chosen as the support act for many big international names on their New Zealand visits. Yet despite his international fame he remains a true South Islander and even when not a guest at our festival, he will more often than not turn up at his own expense, playing music with many other festival goers. Basically he just loves it here at Cardrona – and we love having him.

This year Graham will present a themed afternoon concert entitled “The Music of James Taylor.”


Image result for graham wardrop




Begun over 25 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 Folkalyptica, with your host Martin Curtis and others calling dances. Other musicians 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 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. The recently established “Cardrona General Store” just up 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 (unlike festivals such as Tui.)  Please kennel them for the weekend.


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.  


Pre-registration for the festival is not yet necessary, however it is really helpful to us if you could 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: 12th October 2018