Conference Title

Date, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

Door sales for all events (cash only) will be available at the Twizel Events Centre, 61 Mackenzie Drive, from 1 pm Friday 9 October, unless the event is already sold out.

Stargazing at Mt John on Friday evening is now sold out. Buy tickets now on-line for the Starlight Festival!

Some events have now nearly sold out, but we would like to promote four events where there are still plenty of places available: 

1. Astronomical art workshop, Fri 9 Oct 1.30 – 5.00 pm

Tickets Limited. Age limited to 10 years and older.
$20 Digital Art $30 Physical Art

Enjoy the expert tutors from Science Alive! in Christchurch, who will guide you on a fascinating and creative journey in pictorial art with an astronomical theme. There are places available both for pictorial art and for digital art.



2. SkyLight – a Global Science Opera, Fri 9 Oct 3.00-4.30 pm

$5 per person

This will be a video of an amazing musical production involving 28 countries and brought together from around the world. It is a story about a small boy facing the environmental issues of light pollution when moving to a big city. The video is from the live premiere performance in Athens on 3 October, and the Starlight Festival will be one of the first place in the world to see the edited video! This is a production to mark UNESCO’s International Year of Light 2015.


3. Margaret Mahy Starlight Essay/Poetry competition

Sat 10 October 1.30 -2.45 pm

This is a free event but registrations are required.

A nationwide competition was held this year for New Zealand’s most talented and creative writers. We received 345 entries from throughout NZ schools, and our judges selected ten prize winners to come to Twizel and read their winning entries to the public. This is your chance to experience the most exceptional creative young writers in New Zealand reading their own work. Sponsored by Genesis Energy.
See the Essay/poetry competition tab for 10 winners and 10 highly commended entries for the Margaret Mahy Starlight Essay and Poetry Competition.


 4. Galileoscope Workshop, Sat 10 Oct 2.45 – 5.00 pm

$25 per individual includes one Galileoscope; $40 per family group includes one Galileoscope(Max 3)

For school students and for members of the public! Open to all. Participants will receive a high quality kitset astronomical telescope which they construct under the expert guidance and instructions of tutors from Science Alive! The telescope is yours to take away and keep. You then can take the telescope to the Starlight BBQ on Saturday evening and try it out and see many of the amazing objects in the universe.



Announcing the Aoraki Mackenzie Starlight Festival.

Where: Twizel Events Centre, Twizel (with some events at Lake Tekapo and Mt Cook village)
When:  Friday 9 October 2015 to Sunday 11 October 2015.
Why:The Festival will celebrate the creation of the southern hemisphere’s first International Dark Sky Reserve, in the Mackenzie Basin and at Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park in the centre of New Zealand’s South Island.
It will also mark the International Year of Light (IYL) 2015, which has been proclaimed by UNESCO to educate the public about light-based technologies and to recognize the role of light in the development of astronomy. Light has helped us to see and better understand the universe, which has enabled us to capture stunning images of the cosmos. IYL2015 will celebrate discoveries and breakthroughs in Astronomy and promote an appreciation of dark skies and the need to combat light pollution.

The events

The Festival will comprise a mix of scientific, educational and cultural events over three days, designed to attract school students, family groups and members of the public who are interested in learning more about the stars, the night sky, the problems of light pollution and the appreciation of the environment and outer space.The events will include stargazing, lectures, a concert, an essay and poetry competition, documentaries on the night sky, a photographic exhibition, and more. Some events will be free, while others will have a nominal charge (tickets will be on sale from July).

The venue

The main Festival venue will be the Twizel Events Centre, 61 Mackenzie Drive, Twizel, South Canterbury. Some events will be at the Hillary Alpine Centre, Mt Cook village and at Mt John University Observatory, Lake Tekapo.
Transport between venues will be organized by a festival bus for those who need it.

The organizers

The Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve Board, in partnership with the University of Canterbury.

More information

Contact Sharlene Mullen,
Department of Physics and Astronomy,
University of Canterbury

Visit this website for further Starlight Festival news as the Festival programme is developed.

Locations of visitors to this page


The Aoraki Mackenzie Starlight Festival 2015 is an official event for the International Year of Light in New Zealand.
IYL has been declared by the United Nations and promoted world-wide by UNESCO to mark the achievements of light-related technologies and to promote the observation of cosmic light, which includes astronomy.



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