Journey out of this world to World of WearableArt® Awards Show

World of WearableArt Awards Show (WOW®) is the world’s largest wearable art competition. Each year designers from all over the globe create garments hoping for a place on the WOW stage which culminates with an incredible show in Wellington in September/ October.

New Zealand’s capital never fails to surprise and delight, so if you’re in Wellington or making a special journey to the capital for WOW, we’ve put together all the information you need to know.

World of WearableArt Feature Credit2

What is World of WearableArt?

The creator of this incredible concept is Dame Suzie Moncrieff. In 1987 she wanted to promote a rural art gallery and came up with the idea of taking art off the walls and making it wearable. From its humble beginnings and an audience of just 200 locals, this international phenomenon began its journey in Nelson (where it has a museum that is open all year round) and now is staged in the country’s cultural capital. WOW is  New Zealand’s single largest annual theatrical production and alongside the show, competition and museum has an international travelling exhibition showcasing award-winning garments to the rest of the world.

In 2018, WOW celebrated its 30th anniversary, continuing to cement itself as a must-do activity on the New Zealand calendar. Each year the atmosphere and anticipation of WOW fills Wellington’s streets before the show even begins. An audience of around 60,000, many of which are visitors that descend on the capital over three weeks to watch the spectacle of art, lighting, music, dance and technology.

“A fabulous event that is equal parts couture, choreography and craziness." Time Magazine

The garments in the show are chosen from the annual WOW Awards competition, which attracts over 300 designers from all corners of the globe.  A range of highly coveted awards can be won, including prize money, internships and residencies at the internationally renowned Cirque du Soleil in Montreal, New Zealand’s very own iconic Weta Workshop in Wellington and, new for 2019, was The Residency Award in Los Angeles.

The Great Journeys of New Zealand, proud partner of World of WearableArt 

The Great Journeys of New Zealand are proud to support World of WearableArt as a major partner.

If there’s one thing World of WearableArt and The Great Journeys of New Zealand truly have in common, it’s that we both put the worlds best on show.

"There's a natural alignment between the Great Journeys of New Zealand and World of WearableArt. The World of WearableArt gives designers a stage to showcase their work and we use New Zealand as the greatest stage on Earth." Ella Street, Great Journeys of New Zealand 

WOW The Greatest Stages On Earth

World of WearableArt and The Great Journeys of New Zealand showcasing New Zealand design

Each year designers are presented with six design challenges, which subsequently form the six worlds of the stage show. Three of these worlds are recurring - Aotearoa, Avant-garde and Open, and three change year to year. 

The Aotearoa sections invites designers to draw on New Zealand’s own deep sense of place, to celebrate who we are as peoples and what makes us proud. Designers are tasked with showing New Zealand and its people through their own eyes.

“For designers and artists from around the world it’s creative freedom, it’s time to play” – Donna Ching-Tregidga, World of WearableArt

World of WearableArt 2019 Kakapo Queen

WOW and The Great Journeys of New Zealand connected with finalist designer Stephanie Cossens to talk about her incredible garment Kākāpō Queen. Kākāpō Queen appeared on stage in the Aotearoa section of the 2018 WOW Awards Show and was runner up in the WETA Workshop Emerging Designer Award.

Stephanie found her inspiration to create her garment from our beautiful big backyard.

 “I draw inspiration from New Zealand. It’s an amazing country, we have a very unique ecosystem here. We have a lot of native flora and fauna that are so different from any other animals or plant species that you would find around the world. I think that as an artist and as a creative this is a platform to spread the word of conservation and to look after our native land. It’s so precious.”

With Kākāpō numbers in decline, Stephanie was compelled to draw attention to New Zealand’s native endangered species. The garment is made entirely by hand; the attention to detail is a sight to be seen.

“I have taken time to produce the quirky details of the Kākāpō’s appearance, incorporating ceramics to create its striking green feathers and unusual nostrils”

Kākāpō Queen, Stephanie Cossens, New Zealand
Kākāpō Queen garment detail

World of WearableArt Awards Show 2020

The World of WearableArt Awards show will be held at Wellington’s TSB Arena from 24 September to 11 October 2020. Tickets go on sale on 01 Feb 2020 from

Showtime in Wellington

Don’t miss this amazing opportunity to visit New Zealand’s coolest little capital, where the whole city embraces WOW being in town - Wellington really does love WOW.

Wellington’s shop windows are all dressed up for the occasion as part of the annual Retail Window Competition. Restaurants have WOW themed menus; an Edible Art competition provides an opportunity for culinary artists to exercise their creative flair and the streets are lined with WOW flags. It’s unmissable when WOW is in town!  During the show season be sure to grab an Insider’s Guide from the WOW HUB outside TSB Arena and explore all the parts of the city that will literally make you say wow!

Retail Window Dressing competition
WOW Flags adorn Wellington as part of city excitement

Ignite your imagination in Wellington

Why not take a few days to explore the cultural capital, a great short break idea for a New Zealand holiday. On any given night, you will find a hive of quirkiness and creativity from a poetry reading, to an art show, gig or book launch.

Visit Wellywood

Take a journey to Wellywood! Mirimar has perhaps one of the coolest cinemas in the world and is one of Wellington’s best-kept foodie secrets. Think classic kiwi relaxed atmosphere set in a 1930’s movie theatre with a seasonal menu and award-winning cocktails. CoCo at Roxy’s has to be in your plans.

Inside Weta Cave Museum Wellington

Weta Workshops

Explore Weta Workshop

Just around the corner from Roxy’s is Weta Workshop, one of New Zealand’s top tourist attractions and a great addition to your WOW itinerary. Why not take a film set tour and explore The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and Thunderbirds Are Go.

Inside Te Papa Museum Wellington

Te Papa Museum

Take your time at Te Papa

Te Papa is reason enough to visit Wellington and a great way to spend a few hours. There's everything from world-class exhibitions, storytelling displays, guided tours and extensive art collections; the museum has hosted everything from Monet to Warhol.

Cuba street sign

Get into the Cuba Street vibe

Cuba Street is top of the list when it comes to art and culture. This quirky little street oozes creativity and style as well as being home to some of the best art dealers in the country. The iconic Peter McLeavy Gallery always has a surprise on its walls, located just a short distance from other exciting contemporary art galleries; it’s the perfect place for a stroll with stops for coffee and lunch. 

Prefab Eatery Wellington

Prefab Eatery Wellington

Of course, all this exploring requires fuel to keep you going, and luckily you are in the foodie capital of New Zealand too. With more restaurants per capita than New York, there is bound to be something to curb your appetite.

During the WOW season, it’s recommended to book in advance for restaurants, especially if you are attending an evening WOW performance, you don’t want to be waiting in line when the show begins! 

See finalist garments up close at the National WOW® Museum in Nelson

The World of WearableArt & Classic Cars Museum in Nelson offers visitors the opportunity to see finalist garments from the previous year’s World of WearableArt Awards Show on display. A hop across the Cook Strait to Nelson is an excellent opportunity to see these incredible works of wearable art up close and the brilliance of this New Zealand success story in its home town. 

National WOW museum in Nelson

National WOW Museum in Nelson

Nelson is an arts hub in its own right, with many great activities and things to do. So if you haven’t had your fill of all things artsy, sail across to Nelson and surround yourself with local talent, from the art galleries to the museums, to pottery shops, glass blowing and more. And with the Interislander ferry so close, it makes getting there and back easy if you’re travelling by car. Just check out the timetable, fill your trunk and hop aboard.

2018 WOW Awards Show Exhibition
Underling designed by Gillian Saunders of New Zealand, with a Cord 812 Westchester Sedan from 1937

Your journey to the 2020 World of WearableArt Awards Show

Great Journeys proudly take you on a journey through some of the best landscapes in the world, showcasing the very best of New Zealand. So who better to take you to the World of WearableArt Awards Show than us?

The Northern Explorer train passing Tongariro
Journey on the Northern Explorer
The Coastal Pacific train crossing the Kahutara River
Discover a new New Zealand on the Coastal Pacific

The Northern Explorer train will take you through the heart of New Zealand, running from Auckland to Wellington on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. And if you are in the South Island, riding the Coastal Pacific means the adventure will start the moment you board the train. The Coastal Pacific returns just in time for the 2020 World of WearableArt Awards Show running daily from Christchurch to Picton from September 27th 2019.

So what are you waiting for? Grab something from the fully licensed café (bubbles anyone?) and relax in your spacious seat for a few hours of complete bliss. To make a train booking, check out the fares and timetable and book your tickets today.

The Interislander Cook Strait ferry through the Sounds
Kaitaki cruising through The Sounds
Couple in the Plus Lounge on the Interislander Ferry
Enjoy the Plus Lounge on Interislander

If you’re coming from the South Island there really is no better way to get to your destination than over the pristine waters of the Cook Strait. Say goodbye to the South Island as you sail off on the Interislander ferry; for the next three and a half hours, you’ll enjoy nothing but ocean views on one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world. Interislander arrives into Wellington daily and booking is easy. Just check the timetable and make your booking online.

Tickets for the 2020 World of WearableArt Awards Show tickets are on sale from 01 Feb 2020. The show runs from 24 September to 11 October 2020.


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