Rhythm and Vines is a three day international music festival held in Gisborne, New Zealand across December 29th to the 31st every year. It is 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 university friends to bring in the New Year in a safe and beautiful location with entertainment from up-and-coming and established New Zealand musicians. The festival has been held each year at Waiohika Estate, which was originally Witters’ family home, but is now run as a full time event centre by the Rhythm Group.
IN THE BEGINNING
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.
THE MOVE TO 3 DAYS
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 featured bands such as Flume, Kora, and State of Mind that year.
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. The standard for international acts had now been set, following it up in 2013 with Rudimental, Wiz Khalifa and Empire of the Sun.
A NEW DAWN
Rhythm & Vines continued to up the ante in 2014. In a bold move, Rhythm and Vines introduced art collective Arcadia Spectacular, giving the R&V audience a taste of Glastonbury's fire-breathing stage. In 2015, motocross riders were jumping across the main Vines stage, while the introduction of live comedy via Giggle and Vines had people in stitches over at the Old Mout Cider Shack. While continuing to do what Rhythm and Vines do best (bringing some of the world's best live acts to Gisborne), Rhythm also continues to innovate in the overall festival experience. No wonder 11% of all ticket sales are from an international audience, as the festival continues to evolve and attract new audiences globally.
Fast forward to 2017, the fifteenth anniversary of the festival, tickets sold out faster than ever before. By September Three 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 sees the arrival of more world class acts as the festival goes into its sixteenth year - Juice WRLD, Smokepurpp, Flight Facilities, Tchami x MALAA and Duke Dumont, just to name a few. Vince Staple, SIGMA, & Wilkinson will all be taking the 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). There will also be a new and improved Rhythm Stage replacing the old Supertop tent - let’s just say if you need a giant container, we’ve got plenty.