Splore festival to take 2025 off after posting loss

Splore festival won't be back in 2025.
Splore festival won't be back in 2025. Photo credit: Supplied

By Jogai Bhatt of RNZ

Splore Festival is taking a break in 2025 after a "challenging" festival season in 2024.

Festival producer Fryderyk Kublikowski says economic considerations were a leading factor in the decision to take a fallow year.

"We found this last Splore in 2024 a fantastic event, really great energy, but we didn't sell as many tickets as we would've liked, so we were affected economically there.

"It looks like it's going to be a really tough year for festival promoters and, rather than jump in and compete for attention and our community's hard-earned dollars, we can see that everyone's going to be doing it tough probably in the next 12 to 18 months, so it feels sort of like the socially responsible thing to do."

Kublikowski said the high-content festival in 2024 was not able to break even.

"We suffered a financial loss, but we paid all our performers and suppliers, and we were able to pay our bills in full. Splore's been going for 25 years, so we're a real touchstone event. Splore will be stronger for taking a fallow year."

Splore operates "a bit like a cruise ship" with hundreds working at the actual festival, but a core group of 20 manage Splore's performance content, visual arts, kids' zone, food and craft vendors, operations crew and production crew.

"[They] work part-time, mainly just through a few months leading into the event... we'll discuss with them a plan for coming back in 2026. It's a hard decision to make, we feel personally responsible for sustaining our crew, and to take a pause there'll be some difficult discussions to make.

"We've got an incredibly talented crew, hopefully we can find some freelance work for them to fill in the time."

Kublikowski said rising costs were not only affecting the festival environment in New Zealand, but internationally too.

"A lot of event and festival promoters are struggling, there's a lot of festivals who take a financial hit and will go on sale almost immediately for the following year, you know? They're sort of covering their previous year's losses with the following year's ticket sales, which isn't a very responsible thing to do.

"Seeing festivals like Splendour in the Grass in Australia cancelling for undisclosed reasons only three weeks after going to sale, and another similar event [to Splore] called Groovin the Moo pulling out after being on sale for a few weeks... it's very tough."

RNZ's Music 101 host Charlotte Ryan said it was "good and completely understandable for Splore to take a break at this time" as this would give the festival a chance to recuperate and come back stronger in 2026.

"Festivals are so important for our local musicians - it gives them an opportunity to play alongside international acts and to huge audiences... any support we can give to festivals so they can continue to happen in New Zealand is important."

Splore Festival plans to return to Tāpapakanga Regional Park on 20 - 22 February, 2026.