January: Robert Burns' Birthday

Dunedin has a familial link to Robert Burns, in the form of his nephew, Dr Thomas Burns - who was one of the City's founding fathers during Scottish settlement. Robert Burns’ birthday, 25 January, is celebrated in Dunedin in a variety of ways. Highlights include a performance by the finalists of the Robert Burn’s Poetry and Robbie Rocks competitions, along with a memorable Burns Supper.

March: ICC Women's Cricket World Cup 2022

Celebrating Women’s Cricket and International Women’s Day

Dunedin UNESCO City of Literature was pleased to partner with DCC Community Development and Events, to produce Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022 decals for display at key venues and locations throughout the city during this international sporting competition. Dunedin hosted three matches at The Oval on Saturday 5 March, Monday 7 March and Wednesday 9 March. International Women’s Day is 8 March so perfectly timed for a double celebration.

The City of Literature worked with local poet Ruth Arnison (Poems in the Waiting Room) who composed a poem celebrating the game of cricket. Lynn Benson and her wonderful team at Hocken Collections unearthed a c. 1909 photograph of the Dunedin Ladies’ Cricket Club at The Oval. The vibrant decal was installed around and because they are easily removed it is probable that many organisations will choose to leave them hanging as a memento of a wonderfully organised visit to Ōtepoti.

Ōtepoti has a long and proud history of women’s cricket that culminated in the establishment of the Otago Ladies’ Cricket Association in 1932. During the decade competitive women’s cricket flourished in popularity and went from strength to strength locally, national and internationally. By the close of the 1935 season, 20 women’s teams played in the Otago Ladies’ Cricket Association competition, doubling the sides fielded just two years prior. Ōtepoti’s Suzie Bates is a White Ferns star player who currently holds the highest score and highest batting average in the New Zealand Women’s Twenty20 cricket team.

When Cricket meets Poetry: empower women in Dunedin | Creative Cities Network (unesco.org)


April: Dunedin Arts Festival

The Otago Festival of the Arts celebrates the excellent and the extra-ordinary. It envelops Dunedin in a magical whirlwind of captivating music, thought-provoking theatre, magical dance, side-splitting comedy, literature, visual arts and much, much more. This major cultural event presents a stellar array of international and New Zealand performers - along with Otago's finest artists. The Otago Festival promises to be a startling celebration of creative endeavour and is always rich and varied. 

May: Dunedin’s Writers and Readers Festival

A stand alone Dunedin Writers and Readers Festival! Featuring an exciting lineup of high profile international and New Zealand writers, alongside multi-genre events and experiences for young people, this is an event not to be missed! Supported by Creative New Zealand, Dunedin City Council, Otago University Press, the University Book Shop, and the Otago Community Trust, the Festival includes a range of multi genre events, and is an inspiring addition to Dunedin’s literary event calendar.

May: NZ Music Month

Firmly entrenched as part of our cultural landscape, over the course of the last decade the month of May has gone from a period of encouraging radio to play more local tunes, to a 31 day celebration of homegrown talent across the length and breadth of the country. Throughout May each year, Dunedin Public Libraries work in collaboration with www.dunedinnz.com/visit/music to bring a month of live music performances into our library spaces; from weekly Gig Nights to single lunchtime acoustic sessions, to school kapa haka and choir performances. Our local musical lyricists are honoured and encouraged to perform in a free for all environment.

May: Regent 24hr Booksale

The 24 Hour Book Sale is the largest sale of second-hand books in New Zealand, and reputedly the largest in the Southern hemisphere. Buyers come from throughout New Zealand for the sale, which helps raise funds that go directly back into the theatre. The sale runs from 12 noon on a Friday through to 12 noon on a Saturday. A continuous stream of local musicians support the sale, by playing a variety of music to all in attendance, making for one magic combination - books and music!

July: Māori Language Week

Māori Language Week, te wiki o te reo Māori, is a government-sponsored initiative to encourage New Zealanders to promote the use of Māori language. Māori, English and New Zealand Sign Language are the official national languages of New Zealand. 

July: New Zealand Young Writers Festival

As social as it is serious, the NZYWF is a great opportunity to connect with like-minded literary types, through a mix of workshops, discussions, performances and parties.

Whether your literary idols include Eleanor Catton, Nicky Hager, or Hone Kouka, this is a chance to think about writing in all its forms, now and into the future. 

All events are free, so all you need to is get here, thanks to the generous support of Creative New Zealand, the Otago Community Trust, and the Dunedin City Council.

August: National Poetry Day

National Poetry Day is a New Zealand-wide celebration of poetry and runs in conjunction with the New Zealand Post Book Awards. National Poetry Day sees poets - both fledgling and award-winning - take to the streets, cafes, auditoriums and class rooms all over the country to read, rap, dance and sing. There’s something for everyone. National Poetry Day isn’t just for established poets; it’s also for people who simply want to give poetry a go. So if you harbour a desire to perform a piece of your own, this is the day to throw caution to the wind.

October: Poetry on Prescription

This inaugural event was held in support of International Mental Health Day on 10 October 2020, with the support of Poems in the Waiting Room (NZ):  a Dunedin based arts in health charity well respected for printing and distributing free poetry cards (currently 8000) every season to medical waiting rooms, rest homes, hospices and prisons throughout New Zealand.

Poetry has long been extolled for the power it has to uplift the spirit and soothe the soul. People were encouraged to visit the Poetry on Prescription ‘Clinic’ located in the Dunedin UNESCO City of Literature section on the Ground Floor of Dunedin City Library for a one-on-one injection of restorative and uplifting verse.

No appointment necessary – the poetry “doctors” (Ruth Arnison, Mira Harrison, Claire Lacey) had a thoroughly enjoyable time and made connections with their ‘patients’ in a unique way. This personal ‘consultation’ and sharing of poetry was well received by the many people (including children) who took part.

Everyone received a collectable poetic gift as a memento of their experience.

October: ScienceTeller Festival

ScienceTeller is a biennial festival, celebrating storytelling and science dedicated to documentary filmmaking, writing and other creative media. A feast of stories about science are told in original, entertaining and thought-provoking ways, and the festival program combines public screenings, events and workshops with stimulating talks by by internationally renowned and high profile guests. The festival will be held annually.

November: Ignition Kids Book Festival

Fire up your imagination at the only festival in the South Island dedicated exclusively to children's books!
Bring the family to Dunedin City and enjoy three days of stories, magic, crafts, films and fun with some very special guest authors and illustrators. 

Presented by Ignition Kids Children's Book Festival, a partnership with University Book Shop Otago and Dunedin Public Libraries.

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