Parachute music festival

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Parachute Music Festival
Parachute 2010 Mainstage in the late afternoon before headliners at night
Background information
Origin El Rancho Christian Camp, Waikanae, New Zealand
Years active 1991-2014
Labels Parachute Music Ltd.

The Parachute Music Festival was a Christian music festival held annually in various venues in New Zealand between 1992 - 2014 with the event being held at Mystery Creek Events Centre, Hamilton, New Zealand from 2004. It was previously held at Totara Springs in Matamata and El Rancho, Waikanae The festival was run by Parachute Music and usually lasted for three nights and four days. It was held the weekend before Auckland Anniversary Day,[1] in late January. 'Parachute' was one of the largest Christian music festivals outside of the United States and it was one of the largest multi-day festivals in the Southern Hemisphere.[2][3] Primarily featuring musicians and guest speakers, the festival was also the longest running festival of any kind in New Zealand.[4]


The Lunch crowd in the Village food stall area.

The Parachute Music Festival attracted around 25,000 people each year. The largest crowd came in 2007, with 27,813 attendees. Most people who attend stay on-site in tents and caravans, and a large village area supplies food, amenities and band merchandise.[5]

Each year artists apply to play at Parachute which gives an opportunity for musicians to have their music heard by a large audience at a popular event. Bands applying must have a pastoral reference, that is a reference from a church leader, to ensure that the core members of any act are committed Christians. In some cases individual members of a band will not be Christian but Parachute see this as a good way to involve people in the festival community.[6] While many local bands from New Zealand apply, Parachute receive applications from all over the world. Parachute Music also invite a number of headline artists each year to perform at the festival. Around 100 bands from many different genres play at Parachute each year.[7]

The festival is aimed at a wide demographic ranging from families to teenagers. It is classified as a non-denominational Christian event, with enforced bans on drugs or alcohol and unmarried couples being discouraged from tenting together. However, a large percentage of non-Christian people do attend. Because Parachute is a non-denominational Christian festival, events such as Catholic Mass and Anglican Eucharist take place over the weekend.

The Festival is covered by most New Zealand media and is a well known event of the New Zealand summer. It has also been supported by and has been in partnerships with a number of businesses and organisations - Some examples are Coca-Cola, Sanitarium, V, Pepsi, Vodafone and The NZ Police.

Parachute is often in partnerships with charities[8] such as, World Vision. Parachute Music have been working with World Vision since 2006 to sponsor a village in Rwanda called Tubehoneza. Over the last six festivals, festival-goers have donated $303,000 to the area. This money has been used to build five water tanks, three classrooms, a maternity unit and a health centre for Tubehoneza. Also through the festival 1,900 children have been sponsored.[9][10]


In 1992, the first 'Parachute Music Festival' was staged at El Rancho Christian Holiday Camp, Waikanae. In 1995, the festival moved north to a larger venue at Totara Springs Christian Centre, Matamata. The most recent move was in 2004 to the Mystery Creek Events Centre, just outside Hamilton.[11] The festival has remained at Mystery Creek and in 2008, Parachute Music signed a contract with Mystery Creek Events Centre that kept the festival at the venue for five more years.[12] At the end of 2012, Parachute Music renewed this contract with Mystery Creek ensuring that Parachute would again take place at the events centre for the next five years.[13]

In 2010, Parachute Festival celebrated its 20th birthday with a large party at Mainstage and a fireworks display.[14]

Parachute saw that families were unable to attend the festival due to a tough financial climate and introduced the 'Pay What You Can Afford' initiative for the 2012 festival where punters were able to pay for a family pass and choose from a price as low as $1.[15] A similar programme under the same name was introduced for the 2013 festival where people were able to donate money to a 'Pay What You Can Afford' account and for every $200 raised, a family were able to attend the festival for free.[4][16]

Mystery Creek Events Centre began a long-term major redevelopment in 2012, so limited gate access and venue space is available for the festival. For the first time in the festival's history, ticket numbers were capped off at 17,500 weekend passes and 1,500 day passes. After launching a festival app for Android and Apple devices in 2012,[17] Parachute Festival will also launch technology where one can buy items at festival by scanning a festival wristband instead of paying with cash or cards in 2013.[18]

In 2013, Parachute also restructured the festival to run as a 'three-day' event, rather than a four-day event which it has done in the past. This means that nothing will be programmed after midnight on Sunday but festival-goers will still be able to leave at their leisure on Monday.[19] Also in 2013, Parachute became New Zealand's longest running festival, having been running its festival annually for 23 years.[4]

On March 27, 2014 Parachute Music released a statement on its Facebook and its website announcing that Parachute Music Festival would no longer be running.[20] The closing set at the final Parachute was performed by local metalcore/hardcore band East of Eden.

In 2015 the multi-day Festival One will replace Parachute Festival in Mystery Creek, (and the single-day Cloud Festival in Auckland). These events feature many of the same artists.[21]

Headline acts[edit]

Although Parachute Festival has been around since 1991[22] the first international headliner performed in 1995

Popular local bands have played Parachute as 'local Headliners.' In past festivals the line up has included the likes of Mumsdollar, Steriogram, The Lads, Brooke Fraser, juliagrace, Kingston, Ruby Frost, Late 80's Mercedes, The Glory Sea, and many others. Often Australian bands are put on the 'local Headliner' list.

In mid-2012, Parachute Music ran a competition to find a local band that would open the 2013 festival. A judging panel chose five bands that had entered and the decision was left to be made by public vote. The winner of this competition was hardcore band Saving Grace, from Gisborne. Saving Grace will be the first to play on Parachute's Mainstage for the 23rd festival.[28]

Representing dance and electronic music over the years have been DJs and MCs including Andy Hunter, Tim Richards, Andy Pulzar, Dr Siminz, Paul Spain/MC Preacher Boy and DJ U-gene. In 2013 Parachute introduced the 'Rewired Dance Parties' to the Palladium stage. These dance parties include DJ sets from festival headliners.[29]


  • Hawk Nelson were scheduled to play in 2007 and 2008 but double bookings prevented them from making it.
  • Flyleaf were scheduled to play in 2011 but due to a band member's pregnancy, they had to pull out of the festival. Elemeno P replaced Flyleaf which caused some controversy over Elemeno P not being 'Christian' enough.[30]


Each year there are a range of speakers that speak at seminars and meetings over the weekend. The key or 'headline' speakers at Parachute since 1993 have been:

Other attractions[edit]

Events and attractions that usually take place at Parachute:

  • Amusement rides, inflatables and carnival games
  • Water slide
  • Paintball
  • Kids programme
  • Skatepark
  • Market shopping at 'The Village'
  • Punters vs. international artist competitions - there have been Cook offs, volleyball, cricket and more.
  • Parachute's Got Talent competition
  • Themed parties, each year the theme may change. For example, - An 80s party, barn dance, silent disco, roller disco
  • Noise, a collection of seminars/workshops from international and local artists on music and performance, with some seminars and workshops focusing more on the technical (production) side of performances
  • Movie screenings and film festivals


Each stage at Parachute Festival is designed to have a different feel and environment, and sometimes the stages are set for certain genres of music. Stages for 2014 are:[41]

  • Mainstage
  • Palladium
  • Deluxe
  • Massive
  • White Elephant

Other venues[edit]

  • The Seminar Space - Holds seminars and speaker segments. It is also the venue which holds events such as Catholic mass.
  • Noise Venue - This venue hosts Parachute Music's Noise programme which is aimed at developing Christian artists.
  • Village Stage - The Village stage is an acoustic stage in the heart of the main Parachute shopping and food area.

Former stages[edit]

Parachute Festival's Mainstage in 2007

Parachute Festival's mainstage is often given a new look and in 2009, Parachute Music used a completely new mainstage for the festival. The mainstage used from 2009-2011 was New Zealand's largest concert stage.[42] The 2012 festival saw a refreshed version of the former mainstage used at previous festivals. The mainstage currently used is a trailer that converts into a large stage and it is called 'Sam.'[43]

In the past the festival has had up to nine stages running at one time. Notable former stages include:

  • Debut Stage - In 2010 the Debut Stage was replaced and changed to The Apollo.
  • The Dome - In 2010 The Dome was demolished by Mystery Creek Events Centre.
  • Massive - This stage hosted mostly dance crews, R&B and hip-hop artists. Massive was integrated into the Palladium stage programme in 2012, and then returned on 2014.
  • The Hangar/White Elephant - This stage was the home to acoustic performances and was integrated into the Deluxe stage programme in 2012.
  • The Cage - This stage was run when the festival was hosted in Matamata.

Various other stages have appeared at festival in the past.

At the 2000 and 2001 Parachute Festivals, there was also a separate 'festival within a festival' dedicated to electronic and dance music in its various forms. This N'Dorphin Village was created by members of Dance Generation and featured continuous DJing and live electronica acts, along with urban dance culture elements such as break dancing performances and live Hip Hop.


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