top of page

MarchFest bigger and better than ever: 14 March 2020

Now in its 13th year, MarchFest is spreading its wings at Founders Heritage Park, using more of the available spaces to create new and revitalised zones for the boutique beer festival.

One of Nelson’s most enduring local events, MarchFest has grown from its first foray at Founders Heritage Park with 400 attendees and four beers on offer, to attracting a crowd of up to 4,000 people, and generating over $3 million into the local economy.

This year, MarchFest will be held on Saturday 14 March 2020 from noon until 9.30pm at Founders Heritage Park.

MarchFest was started by friends Mic Dover and Eelco Boswijk in 2008 who say they wanted to create a boutique beer festival with a friendly vibe that welcomed women, families and ordinary beer drinkers not just beer geeks - plus interesting live music - not the blues bands and ‘barbeque reggae’ that many beer events of the time seemed to offer.

“We’re really proud that our original vision is alive and well, with a good cross-section of the community making it their ‘must do’ event every year,” says Mic. “This year, we’re spreading out across the Park, creating a new dedicated children’s area and moving into a new grassed zone where tasting paddles of 5 beers will be available. These were a hit last year, so we want to make it more of a focus.”

MarchFest has served up more than 150 local beers over the last 13 years, all brewed specially for the event. With 15 beers available on the day, Mic says the tasting paddles allow people to sample more of the craft beers on offer.

MarchFest has always attracted a large number of visitors to Nelson, keen to sample beer from New Zealand’s premier hop growing and craft beer brewing region, he says. Last year, 65% of MarchFest attendees were from out-of-town (beyond Nelson and Richmond).

It’s not all about the beer. A great live music line-up has always been a key feature of the event, with familiar names and some new up-beat acts. This year, Kiwi legends The Chills are headlining the event. The much-loved Dunedin band released a new album Snow Bound in 2018 to critical acclaim.

Lead singer Martin Phillipps says when they perform at MarchFest they’ll be in the midst of recording their next album, so festival goers may get a taster of some new tracks.

“We’ll play our more familiar music – we’ve got an entire set of hits – but we may throw in some new stuff to show where we’re headed. The lucky thing for us is that everyone is loving our last two albums.” The Chills toured the United States earlier in the year, including performing multiple times at the annual week-long South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin. Rolling Stone magazine said: “In a sense, Martin Phillipps and the Chills dominated SXSW 2019”.

The band is looking forward to returning to perform in Nelson, where Martin says they’ve played a number of times over the years. “We love Nelson. It’s a cool little city.”

Other musicians performing on 14th March 2020 include: Pacifica-Māori soul singer Bella Kalolo from Wellington, indie pop band Alae, the Everlovin’ Jug Band from Canada, local songstress and Rockquest winner Estella, and local improvisational guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Bo Ade-Simpson (Bosho).

Sustainability has also always been an important aspect of Marchfest. It is one of the few beer festivals to serve drinks in real glass rather than plastic cups. And all stall holders serve food with recyclable plates, bowls and cutlery. This year, the famous MarchFest beer tokens are biodegradable.

Super earlybird tickets sold out in 24 hours! Early bird tickets are now available until 10 February for $38. From then, standard tickets are available for $45.

Buy your tickets from The Free House, Nelson I-SITE Visitor Information Centre or online at

Marchfest has received sponsorship funding for this year’s event from the Nelson Events Marketing & Development Programme, which is funded by the Nelson City Council. The Programme’s objective is to stimulate Nelson City’s economy in the shoulder and off seasons by bringing new spending through visitors coming to Nelson for distinct events.


Recent Posts

See All


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page