Story: Arts festivals

The first annual Competitions Society Festival, 1911 (1st of 2)

The first annual Competitions Society Festival, 1911

Competition societies gave young and older performers alike an opportunity to compete for prizes in the fields of drama, oratory, music and elocution. The first society was established in Auckland in 1901 and by the 1910s the societies were flourishing all over the country. The competitions were also enjoyable for spectators and the first annual competitions society festival, held in Wellington in 1911, was advertised as the 'biggest festival ever held in the Southern hemisphere.' The festival ran for two weeks and attracted competitors from all over the country. It also included a physical drill, with the Boy Scouts showing off their skills in first aid and bridge building.

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Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: New Zealand Competitions Society first annual festival. Wellington: New Zealand Competitions Society, 1911 (B-K-1097-Cover)

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Marguerite Hill, 'Arts festivals - Beginnings of festivals in New Zealand', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 24 May 2022)

Story by Marguerite Hill, published 22 Oct 2014, updated 1 Aug 2016