America has festivals like South by Southwest (SXSW) and Coachella, England has Glastonbury and Denmark has Roskilde, but there is no bigger party for the arts in New Zealand than the Christchurch Arts Festival. Arts festivals draw hundreds of thousands of visitors a day and nearly every country in the world has some sort of celebration. This year the festival runs on weekends from August 12 to October 2 and attracts the best theater, dance and music performers from around the world. It specializes in up-and-coming local talent and artists seldom seen in the South Island, but also features many other events that reflect the beauty and respect for the city of Christchurch. The event is biennial and aims to excite, entertain, educate and inspire the people of Christchurch and visitors to take in all that the city has to offer.

The festival has a distinctly Christchurch focus, with talented performers coming back to their hometown, and many events depicting a strong sense of family, community and creativity. Events include live music, theater performances, dance performances, classical music, family music, visual arts shows and wonderful local cuisine. There is sure to be something for everyone, as the music styles range from modern hip-hop and psychedelic soul to old-time gospel and rock and roll.

If music isn't your thing, you are surely not without entertainment. Theater performances include such creative selections like "Spontaneous Broadway," which is the creation of a Broadway-style musical before your very eyes. Past performances have included the Shakespeare classic Macbeth, a rugby World Cup comedy called "C'mon Black" and "Salon," an immersive glimpse into the lives of the staff and clients of an upscale hair salon. When you're done at the theater, head to one of the festival's jaw-dropping dance shows, including pieces from the Royal New Zealand Ballet and exaggerated street performances.

Not only is the festival a great opportunity for adults to mingle with fellow arts lovers, it is also a great family event. Christchurch offers a "family music" component catering to children six to 18-months old that creates an interactive environment for both babies and their caregivers. The show seamlessly combines recorded music with live singing, using sounds and words that babies can understand and instruments made out of unlikely sources, like garden hoses.

Whether you're a dance lover looking to catch the latest ballet or a music aficionado looking to take in some smooth vocals, the Christchurch Arts Festival is the place to celebrate all the things you love about the arts world and learn about a wonderful city and culture in the process.