Festivals planning around COVID-19 border clampdowns for New Year's celebrations

In just a few months we'll all be able to wave goodbye to 2020 - and let's face it, that'll be a reason to celebrate.

What's more, if New Zealand remains at level 1, we could be one of the few places in the world to have a summer concert season.

This year, the upcoming New Year's festival Northern Bass will look a little different.

"When it first became apparent that we might not get international artists, it's our 10th anniversary this year and I was quite bummed about that," says Northern Bass organiser Gareth Popham.

"That quickly turned into wow we get to do our 10th anniversary with all Kiwi acts, that's awesome."

Planning one of our most highly anticipated summer festivals during a pandemic has been no easy feat for Popham.

With the borders shut, it's been near impossible to secure international acts. But Popham's confident some could be granted visa exemptions in time for New Year's - he's working with immigration to make sure it happens.

"The entertainment industry's a multi-billion-dollar industry that everything from hotels to rental car companies to restaurants, everything feeds off, so I'm hoping that they'll look at it seriously," he says.

European DJ Alix Perez is one of the only international acts confirmed so far.

He moved here from the UK a few weeks ago, with his Kiwi fiance.

"I'm super excited, I'm playing my first show in eight months I think at the end of the month so that's going to be awesome," he says.

The UK's entertainment industry's been decimated by COVID-19. Perez is grateful his new home will allow him to keep the job he loves.

"We've basically been stripped of our livelihoods you know? So yeah feeling very fortunate," he adds.

He's playing at Northern Bass in Mangawhai over New Year's Eve. While organisers are hopeful it will go ahead in level 1 they're ready for plan B should we have another outbreak.

"It's either level 1 or we don't run, so I guess it's talking about possible postponement dates and how we make that work with 50-plus artists," Popham says.

With local talent being shared around the different festivals, organisers are working together to make sure if they do have to postpone, their back-up dates work around each other.

But it would come at a big financial cost to an industry that's been hit hard by COVID.

"It would hurt. There would definitely be some unrecoupable costs if we have to move the festival," Popham says.

He and the thousands of workers employed over the festival season will be hoping it doesn't come to that.

So that when December 31 rolls around, we can perhaps be one of the only countries in the world bidding good riddance to 2020 and welcoming the new year, in a crowd of thousands.