Splore 2024 – Tapapakanga Regional Park: Feb. 23-25

Splore 2024 happened this past weekend and The 13th Floor’s Gem McDonnell was there with pen and camera in hand. Here is her report.

SPLORE 2024 was set to be quite the soirée. As I strapped in to have my Splore socks knocked off on Friday morning, the festival was revving up to be FEASTY ASF.

SploreThis three day affair beginning on Friday, nestled in the stunning beachside location of Tapapakanga Regional Park has it all. A sensory explosion that transports you to a festival wonderland fit for kings. Not a detail is missed, from finding a secret fairy garden nestled in the hedge along the path, to the spectacular lighting and art hung in the old pohutakawas along the beach. What truly sets it apart from others, is the underlying essence of funk, groove, inclusion and love.

Splore festival never fails to amaze, and this year did not disappoint despite the whole country feeling a financial pinch over the last year. In the Pōwhiri to welcome splorers and performers to the site, festival director John Minty thanked the local Tangata Whenua, and thanked everyone not only for attending despite hardships, but bringing the next generation, and for the wonderful acts that come far and wide. This underlined the unique pull this festival has.

SploreMother Nature provided sunshine and light breezes, and the showers on Sunday were welcomed by splorers. On the hill by the Corona bar, looking out over the sparkling waves, it’s easy to see why I overheard someone say near me “this is heaven on fucking earth!” This was only enhanced by punters bringing it to the table for the theme FEASTY. From a giant broccoli man, candy dresses, to a kebab totem pole. A huge effort was made for the greatest costume party in Aotearoa.

Not only was the Splore 2024 musical line up an eclectic array of audio pleasure, it would be a crime not to first mention some of the performance art that took this year to new heights. A knockout performance on Saturday by Caberet Devour was a literal feast for the eyes. With the likes of Darcy Taylor and Amber Liberté showing a daringly delightful fire dancing display, and Flow Academy amping up the crowd with stunning acrobatics. Another honourable mention goes to a wonderful performer I spotted- Caleb Cameron tap dancing his absolute heart out beachside on Friday.

SploreAs the lines are continually blurred between visual and musical art, I can not name a single artist that does it better than Patsy Skeet. She truly knocked it out the park with her Bowie inspired live DJ set on Saturday night at the Naked Eye stage, accompanied by the incredibly talented singer Soulti, delicious dancers Gooey Gab, and Dani & Tami VR, working the stage like they were born too.

Lady Shaka brought the funk on Friday night, with some spectacular moving and shaking in indigenous dress. Mr Bruce, a frequent past act as the lead singer of the UK band The Correspondents, was a huge artist highlight. He showcased his incredible stage presence and talent for singing and dancing faster than the speed of light, adding a stage dive to that was a superhuman feat to see. Other honorable mentions include The Pharcyde, who brought us back to 90’s hip hop, and the luscious sounding Green Tea Peng, who will be one to watch. As an avid fan of electronic beats, I was impressed by the array of djs that Sploreplayed well into the night, with genre bending sounds of house, bass and techno to satisfy the late night party people by the likes of NZ artists such as Paige Julia, Alleykat, and Dylan C. Hedlok amped the crowd in the rain on Sunday, with local legends Che Fu and King Kapisi getting everyone going again before the slow wind down back to reality.

Splore 2024 came to the party, yet again proving it is not merely any old music festival but so much more. An amalgamation of art, sound, culture and BIG VIBES. It is special to have such a beautiful space for kids and adults alike to get together and celebrate. It is also not everyday I can float by a beach on a giant inflatable unicorn whilst listening to talented artists on stage right next to me. It felt wholesome, and simultaneously absolute madness, and that’s really the best combination you can get.

Splore… we always want more. So until the next one, Ngā Mihi Nui!

By Gem McDonnell Writer and Photographer

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