Cuba Dupa: where the streets are alive to the sound of music

It is Cuba Dupa time again!  Wellington’s annual street festival took place this weekend, a fun event that takes over much of Cuba Street and some of the surrounding area.  There is music, there is dancing, there is food of all sorts available…and of course lots of people.  This is the fourth year of the festival, and it seemed bigger than ever. We went on the second day, Sunday, which was a gorgeous, sunny autumn day (unlike Saturday when the heavens opened).

We decided to go early, events kicking off at 11am this year instead of noon. Although most acts and food stalls didn’t really get going until noon, or even 1pm, it was quite nice to see a few things before the big crowds descended.

A swing band, and people dancing
Cuba Dupa time!
A throne…and a wall about our city

There was almost a battle of the Balkan bands going on, a theme this year (last year it was bagpipes…after we came home, I read that there had been a mass Balkan wedding band event on the Saturday evening which actually was the real explanation). Of course, there was the usual eclectic mix of performers, including this couple below – a one man band and a tap dancer from the UK.

Banjos and tap dancing: The Old Time Rags
Some Balkan beats
..and some more with great costumes (love the hat made from plastic glasses)

Like last year, we had lunch at El Matador, enjoying some slow cooked beef with chimichurri.  I was a bit disappointed that the newly opened Te Auaha creative hub was not showcasing anything on Sunday, as I really wanted to get a good look inside.  Anyway, there was lots to see, including The Extravaganza Fair, an collection of stalls with fortune tellers, crafts and this spider….approach it, and it moved…to much laughter and screams…

Approach with caution…

We ended the afternoon at The Rogue and Vagabond, catching the Wellington Batacuda group and, guess what?  The Old Time Rags again, who despite using three instruments I don’t like (banjo, mouthorgan, kazoo) managed to amuse, and also bring out some local dance enthusiasts who knew exactly how to dance to the music.

People gathering for the Wellington Batacuda group
Parrot Dog’s Cuba Dupa pale ale

And we just managed to catch the Alien Junk Monsters, changing behind Te Auaha on the way home.  I think next year we need to plan a little more carefully, but really, the essence of an event like this is just to turn up and see what there is and enjoy whatever pops up in front of you.

The Alien Junk Monsters

The featured image of the rainbow umbrellas and disco ball is from the top of Cuba Street, a truly wonderful sight against the blue skies of Wellington.

You can find Thistles and Kiwis on Facebook, and also on Instagram @thistleandkiwis.  As for Twitter….am totally inactive these days.  If you want to get in touch, email me on


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