Luminate Festival

New Zealand
Canaan Road, Takaka Hill, Nelson

Luminate Festival is a vibrant summer festival of cutting-edge live and electronic music, visual and performing arts & inspirational knowledge-sharing.

Festival details

(Info from the organizer)

Luminate is a vibrant summer festival of cutting-edge live and electronic music, visual and performing arts, inspirational knowledge-sharing and pioneering environmental initiatives.

Music: Delivering an international line-up alongside the juicy vibes of our home-grown talent, Luminate offers a diverse range of live music and electronica spanning five zones. You’ll find world grooves, gypsy, maori, celtic, folk, jazz, blues, samba, roots, reggae, dub, psytrance, progressive, techno, house, dubstep, drum and bass, electroswing, glitch-hop, sacred bass, midtempo, chill out and lots more. Bring your instruments and join the acoustic jams at Tribal zone or open-mic at the Village Stage.

Workshops: An extensive daily schedule of practical, inspiring workshops with experienced facilitators, including permaculture, alternative energy, yoga, aikido, quantum science, taonga puoro, african drumming, dance, reflexology, performing arts, traditional crafts, electronic music production and lots more. A range of enlightening movies and docos screen nightly. Find workshops on holistic health and a range of alternative therapies including massage at the Healing Hub.

The Circus Space hosts sessions for adults and children, from acro-balance, juggling, poi and hula hoop, to dragon staff, slackline and unicycling. Look out for the fire performances at night and roving acts during the day.

There are lots of activities for children including entertainers, games, storytelling, arts, crafts and other fun things.

Village market: Browse the market for handmade arts and crafts, enjoy the performers on the Village stage, and sample some healthy kai. Food outlets serve delicious, nourishing meals and tasty treats. All cafes run by Luminate, including the popular earth-fired pizza oven, are vegetarian and Organic.

Eco initiatives: Luminate is renowned for its strong environmentally conscious focus, encouraging self-reliance and responsibility from all participants. Remember to bring your own plates/cups for the market; a dishwashing area is provided. With no rubbish or recycling bins on site you pack out what you bring in. Luminate literally builds the festival on an ethos of minimising waste in all possible ways, upcycling, re-using resources, and using natural materials. Eco amenities include composting toilets and solar showers.

Camping: There’s plenty of space for friends and family to camp together, and quiet places too. Rolling grassland surrounded by native beech forest and limestone outcrops is an enchanting environment. Bring your bicycles to cruise between the camping and event site. Luminate is a non-alcohol, family-friendly event.

Timing: Inspired by the ancient seasonal festival of Lughnasadgh (“Lunasa”), Luminate is midway between the summer solstice and autumn equinox, when our ancestors would gather together to share inspiration, learning and celebration, giving thanks to the earth mother for the abundance of the harvest.

Luminate Festival 2019 – Preview

In the mountains of New Zealand, in meadows surrounded by native forest, blooms the unique earth-friendly music and arts festival of Luminate.

Luminate is a transformative festival and psychedelic play-land superimposed on a foundation of environmental innovations and intelligent design. Luminate’s purpose is to co-create a thriving festival of music, arts and inspiration, activating positive change beneficial to the ecology.


Being a celebration of community, creativity and self-realisation, Luminate always synchronises with Lughnasadgh (“Lunasa”), the midway point between summer solstice and autumn equinox which marked an important celebration time for the ancestors at the peak of the summer harvest. We welcome you to come celebrate the 9th edition of Luminate with us in 2019!

Luminate Culture

Since its inception in 2008, Luminate has held fast to some key principles that guide the co-creative process and inclusive culture. Our Vision is heart-centred community flourishing in resonance with nature. Even as the festival has grown to almost 5000 strong, Luminate has held to a grounded ecological responsibility and continues with many pioneering eco initiatives.
Music, Arts and
Knowledge Sharing
With 5 zones of music at Luminate during 7 days there is a huge schedule of 200 music acts with a wide diversity of international and New Zealand musical talent. Genres range from Psytrance to sacred bass, world music to jazz and dub, along with the acoustic indigenous vibes of the Tribal zone.
Another popular aspect of Luminate is the wide range of interactive workshops, spanning 5 zones including a dedicated Circus Space and Healing Hub. With daily sessions from morning to night, experienced presenters deliver a wide range of inspiring topics and activities to participate in that will stretch the body, stimulate the mind and spark the spirit at all given times of the day!

Activating Transformation

If you are seeking an authentic and innovative festival experience, surrounded both by nature and humans operating to their highest potential, Luminate Festival is a must for you! We are committed to achieving our Vision and Purpose and heartily welcome all those that are keen to help accomplish these too. See you in 2019 for a co-creative celebration of heart-centred community and the natural world that sustains us.

Luminate Festival (2017) Psytrance in New Zealand

Luminate Festival
In the mountains of New Zealand, in meadows surrounded by beech forest, glows one of the world’s most earth-friendly music festivals. Next Luminate Festival takes place from February 1–8, 2017.

Luminate Festival 2017

luminate festival logo

Luminate Festival occurs every two years on New Zealand’s South Island.
The next one runs Feb 1-8, 2017. See and follow Luminate Festival on Facebook for updates.

Over the past eight years, Luminate Festival has grown from a humble community gathering into a world-class festival featuring multiple music zones of international talent.
It’s held every two years to mark the ancient summer harvest festival of Lughnasadh.

Even as the festival has grown to nearly 4000 participants camping out for eight days, its crew have stuck to a level of ecological responsibility previously unheard of in large events.

Natural thrones

luminate festival toiletOne of the core sustainability experiences is one that everyone at the festival engages with daily – the magnificent, odourless composting toilets. “Humanure” deposits get layered with sawdust and grass in the sealed bins under each toilet, with a microbial mix added regularly to aid breakdown. Post-festival, it all goes into a massive compost pile, layered with fresh cut grass and sealed to keep it safe. Tiger worms are added. The result is a rich compost ideal for tree planting on the festival site.

luminate festival toilet explanation

(c) 2008 Miriam Hesse

Like all site structures, the toilets are built almost entirely of reclaimed materials.
The Luminate construction crew are expert scavengers for reusable materials. Items for décor often come from the local dump. Massive stage and dancefloor structures are made of locally grown bamboo, tied together with rubber strips cut from old tyre inner tubes. Showers on site are heated via a simple solar system. Water heats up as it passes through coils of black alkathene piping. At night and on cloudy days, hot water comes from efficient wood-burning rocket stoves.

No rubbish?!

luminate festival forestOne of the most radical decisions, from the event’s beginning, was simple but profound: there would be no rubbish or recycling bins on site, other than a compost pile for food scraps. Market traders are not allowed to use disposable plates or cutlery, or sell single-use beverage containers. Instead festival participants bring their own dishes, or hire ceramic dishes on site for a tiny fee. “Having no rubbish bins and no recycling facilities is quite a radical step,” says festival co-director Jules Harper. Before starting Luminate in 2008, she recalls, “I’d just had a season of festivals overseas, and got pretty despondent about the amount of rubbish that gets generated at these supposedly enlightened events.” At first, “There was a lot of resistance from people saying if you don’t have rubbish bins, you’ll have rubbish everywhere,” recalls Rita Davies, who is Jules’ partner and festival co-director. “In fact it’s the opposite… the pack out what you bring approach makes people really conscious of reducing rubbish at source, and encourages self-reliance.”

luminate festival zoom

Festival participants cooperate to keep the site pristine, thanks to Luminate’s extensive educational messaging before the event. After the festival, hardly a stray cigarette butt is to be found on the ground. It’s hard to believe that just the day before, nearly 4000 people were camping there.

Eating organic

luminate festival marketThe festival also promotes organic food. Most large festivals bring in vendors, but Luminate runs five of its own cafés, serving all-organic vegetarian and vegan food. There’s an emphasis on raw and nutrient-dense options, including a superfood and smoothie bar at the main dancefloor – and no alcohol. “We wanted to make available food that we believe in, and send the message that organic food is important,” Jules says. Vendors can sell non-organic food, but they get a discount on their site fees if they use at least 90 percent organic ingredients.

Land ethic

Finally, the festival is deeply committed to the land. Luminate Trust is part of the Canaan Downs Collective, which manages the festival’s iconic mountain site. The Collective is working on regenerating the native forest. “Now we’ve got seedlings come back in a forest that was dying off,” Jules says. One goal for future eco-improvements is to find better ways to power the large lighting and sound systems. “We would love to find suppliers of alternative power generation that do not rely on fossil fuels,” Rita says. Luminate will increase its solar-powered lighting this coming year, and has also used small solar-powered and bike-powered PA systems. It’s about more than just eliminating waste. In a sense, the entire festival is a teaching tool. “We’ve had so many emails from people who say Luminate changed their lives, that they’re thinking so much more about their impact on the planet and really want to do things differently,” Rita says.“Whatever we spend our dollar on we’re co-creating. We could change the world tomorrow if we just realised that today.”

This article was written by Rebecca Reider.
Pictures, if not mentioned otherwise, from Luminate Festival Website.
Many thanks to the author and Organic NZ magazine for permission to reprint this article.

This article appeared before in our printed edition.

Luminate (2015): Celebrate the Ancient Summer Harvest Festival of Lughnasadgh

Luminate is a Mother Earth-loving  family-friendly festival that celebrates music, art, dance, creativity and sustainability. The epic seventh edition took place at Canaan Downs, Takaka Hill, New Zealand/Aotearoa from 28th January- 4th February 2015. The next edition is slotted for 2017. This year the festival hosted nearly 4000 trancers from every corner of the globe.


For full information visit our FESTIVAL MAP: Clickety-Clack

Luminate (2015): Celebrate the Ancient Summer Harvest Festival of Lughnasadgh

“At Luminate our intention is for people to awaken to what’s going on in the world, be empowered with creativity and skills to contribute to their local communities, make choices which are beneficial to the environment, and activate the transformation necessary to live in our full power and optimum health.”

01_Luminate 2013_On route to Opening Ceremony 1

Luminate is a Mother Earth-loving  family-friendly festival that celebrates music, art, dance, creativity and sustainability. The epic seventh edition took place at Canaan Downs, Takaka Hill, New Zealand/Aotearoa from 28th January- 4th February 2015. The next edition is slotted for 2017. This year the festival hosted nearly 4000 trancers from every corner of the globe.

The Festival’s two Dancefloors, Live Stage and Electronic Zone, was  graced by a wide range of outstanding international, Australian and New Zealand musicians, bands, electronic producers and DJs. The genres included: world beats, gypsy, dub, reggae, jazz, blues, funk, samba, folk, hip hop, glitch hop, electro swing, sacred bass music, dubstep, techno, progressive and psytrance. Besides the two dance floors, dancers were swinging to the beats of the Tribal Zone, or lounge in the Chillout Lounge, and those who brought their instruments along jammed on the Buskers stage.

There was a KISS centre, short for  Knowledge and Inspirational Sharing Sessions which offers workshops on a broad spectrum of subjects, such as permaculture & organics, yoga, meditation, music production, just to name a few. The Circus Space, which hosted brilliant circus acts by day, and amazed the crowds with its fire/LED shows at night. The Hauora Healing Zone, offered great massages from a qualified alternative therapists. The festival provided ample entertainment for kids via games, art & crafts, storytellers, etc. The food outlets served delicious items created from organic and locally sourced ingredients. The Village Market sold a variety of handicrafts, and and the Village Stage to offered a mixed array of performances.

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