- Walk Of Wonders Delivers Warmth and Joy to the Region
Hawke’s Bay’s trailblazing light and art festival Walk Of Wonders has proven breaking new artistic ground does pay off – doubling its ticket numbers in two years and launching its makers in an exciting new creative direction.
In just its second year, Walk Of Wonders took audiences on a captivating journey of augmented reality, animation, projection mapping, roaming performance art, kinetic sculpture, and pyrotechnics with an elaborate musical score that guided guests through the story of a young girl’s adventure through time and space.
Reviews from last month’s ticket goers ranging from young children to adults were glowing, with many touting the grand scale and originality of the show.
Nearly 8,000 people visited over the ten day event at Black Barn and a combined six thousand dollars was raised for Hawke’s Bay mental health charities via Hawke’s Bay Foundation and drug and addiction service Whatever It Takes.
For Hawke’s Bay Foundation Executive Officer Amy Bowkett, Walk Of Wonders was a welcome drop in the donation bucket.
“Hawke’s Bay Foundation is grateful to Walk of Wonders for recognising the importance of strong mental health in our local community. The event’s ticket proceeds earmarked for this cause will be invested, and the income gained will support local mental health charities annually, forever.”
Auckland raised and now Hawke’s Bay convert, Ant van Dorsten dreams big and vows he won’t stop bringing art and inspiration to the people. Reflecting on Walk Of Wonders he says there is much to fine-tune but ambition is at an all-time high.
“The biggest challenge we faced this year was around pricing. Sentiment in the public is that tickets are too expensive, which is a very difficult balancing act given we are still in our early years. Being a privately funded event in the realm of immersive experience while working with world class light and visual artists and breaking new ground in the industry, we’ve relied on the support of our creatives and business partners who dedicated a lot of their own time to this project, and deserve remuneration for all their hard work.
“Most other light festivals around the country and world receive a huge amount of funding from councils, large sponsors and well-established trusts and are not in the same playing field of what we are working to achieve,” says Ant.
Organizers worked with a couple of Hawke’s Bay schools this year to provide free tickets to families who could not afford to attend. They hope to expand on this in coming years by working with councils to create channels for low-income families to attend at low or no cost, removing the financial barriers which affect a large number of Hawke’s Bay residents.
With over 20% of this year’s guests visiting from out of the region, Walk of Wonders is bringing much needed tourism to the region in what is traditionally the quietest time of the year. By creating a unique event that pays homage to local history, puts local food and drink in the spotlight and showcases the stunning site at Black Barn Vineyards, van Dorsten hopes to keep the event local, as a rich piece of Hawke’s Bay’s culture.
“Walk of Wonders is at the start of something very special for our region and starting to head on a trajectory away from ‘Light & Fire Festival’ and into its own brand of ‘narrative driven, outdoor immersive experience.’”
For co-founder Henry Gordon, the future of Walk of Wonders is a bright one where each coming year will bring new artists, new performances and will guide audiences through a new chapter of the story of our young hero.
“We will be back and are extremely driven to make Walk Of Wonders a success story for the region. Now, more than ever, Hawke’s Bay needs a show like this to inspire awe and wonder in our community.”