Rhythm and Vines is a three day music festival held in Gisborne, New Zealand across December 29th to the 31st every year. It is globally known as the first festival in the world to welcome in the first sunrise of the new year.
The festival was founded in 2003 by University of Otago friends Hamish Pinkham, Tom Gibson, and Andrew Witters. They wanted to hold an event for their friends to bring in the New Year in a safe and beautiful location with entertainment from up-and-coming and established New Zealand musicians. Little did they know that their little party would eventually become a right of passage for over 350,000 kiwis and attract international visitors and touring artists from across the globe.
The first festival back in 2003 had only one performance stage, featuring headliners The Black Seeds, and gathered a crowd of 1,800. A second stage was added in 2004 which saw an increase to 5,500 ticket sales, with Salmonella Dub as the headline act. Following that, the 2005 festival featured Fat Freddy’s Drop, and a new Rhythm stage arena was opened up on site to keep up with increasing demand. The 2006 festival was bumped up to four stages, and featured the festival’s first overseas headliner Mylo from Scotland. A year later, the 2007 festival garnered a crowd of 15,000 with UK act New Young Pony Club in the headline spot.
2008 was a big year of change. After five successful years of running Rhythm & Vines as a one day New Years Eve festival, the decision as made to expand it to a three day event. This allowed the organisers to contract bands on the international touring circuit. This was a game changer for the 2008 festival, making it the strongest line up yet - many renowned international acts made their way down under, such as Franz Ferdinand, The Kooks, Santigold and Carl Cox. Accommodation for the festival was predominately provided by BW Summer Festival, a neighbouring seven day camping festival that has hosting acts such as Flume, Kora, and State of Mind.
2010 saw Rhythm and Vines sell-out for the first time as a 3 day festival, hosting international acts such as N.E.R.D, Netsky, Chase & Status, Chromeo, Justice, Flying Lotus & Tinie Tempah, along with New Zealand acts Shihad and The Naked and Famous, with a record breaking, capacity crowd of 25,000. The festival was crowned Best Event at the NZ Tourism Awards. In 2012, the festival celebrated it’s 10th Anniversary, hosting more big names like Tame Impala, The Presets and Mark Ronson. Following it up in 2013 with Rudimental, Wiz Khalifa and Empire of the Sun.
Rhythm & Vines continued to up the ante in 2014. In a bold move, art collective Arcadia Spectacular was introduced, giving the R&V audience a taste of Glastonbury's fire-breathing stage. Chart toppers Bastille were joined with Zane Lowe and Chase & Status returning. In 2015, sweeping changes were made to the festival, including the introduction of motocross riders jumping across the main Vines stage, live comedy via Giggle and Vines, new branding including the emojis you still see today, and the switch was made back to the Vines Stage as the main stage for the festival. The infamous New Year's countdown videos were also introduced in 2015.
Rhythm and Vines continued to attract international audiences, with up to 11% of all ticket sales coming from overseas. Performances included Angus and Julia Stone, Peking Duk, RL Grime and more. Unfortunately Mac Miller pulled out from performing one week before the festival.
Fast forward to 2017, the fifteenth anniversary of the festival, tickets sold out faster than ever before. By September, 3 Day GA Festival Passes had officially sold out only a month after the first lineup release which included international headliners ScHoolboy Q, 2ManyDJs, Baauer, Mura Masa, Big Shaq and A-Trak while seeing the return of Netsky, Sub Focus and Wilkinson. Located on the house lawn, the Garden Stage replaced the Discovery Stage and hosted local favourites such as Yukon Era, Balu Brigada, Black White Dynamite, Soaked Oats and High HOOPS. Rhythm and Vines continues to push the boundaries in creating a world class festival that showcases top international talent while supporting emerging Kiwi talent.
2018 saw the arrival of more world class acts as the festival was kissed into it’s sweet sixteenth year - Juice WRLD, Flight Facilities, Tchami x Malaa and Duke Dumont, just to name a few. Vince Staples, SIGMA, & Wilkinson smashed the Vines Stage on New Years Eve to bring in the new year with 21,000 festival goers (not to mention, a whopping 14,000 on site campers).
2019 saw headline performances from Disclosure, Playboi Carti, Wilkinson, and even a sneaky performance from Netsky during Montell2099's set. The 2019 countdown video unfortunately had a glitch, which would later be blamed for the cause of the absolute cluster fuck that is known as 2020.