Model wearing Earthling costume on stage

10 Questions about the World of WearableArt Show

The World of WearableArt Show (WOW) is the world’s leading wearable art design competition. It culminates with an incredible show performed in Wellington each year in September/October.

As with every rendition of WOW, you will be invited to explore the beauty and grandeur of the worlds of Aotearoa, Avant-garde and the Open section.

Here at MoaTours, we have been running our small group tours to WOW since 2006 and have come to know the Awards show pretty well over that time.

Below are the top ten questions people ask us about the World of WearableArt Show.

We also look at the options for travelling there and why a small group tour with MoaTours World of WearableArt Show tour is one of the popular options.

1. What is the World of WearableArt Show?

The World of WearableArt (WOW) is the leading wearable art design competition in the world.

Each year designers from all over the globe create garments to enter the WOW competition. It culminates with a stunning show performed in Wellington each year in September/October.

Garments are made from materials ranging from recycled bike tyres, rope, plastic and latex through to the cutting-edge high-tech new materials used in science and technology. Don’t miss out on this world class, dramatic show where imaginations run wild.

2. When did the World of Wearable Art Show start?

Creator and brainchild of this incredible concept is Nelson painter and sculptor Dame Suzie Moncrieff. In 1987 she wanted to promote a rural art gallery so came up with the idea to take art off the walls and make it wearable.

With prize money of $1000 the entries started rolling in, although it took a bit of explaining that she wanted more than the colourful knitwear that was seen as the height of 1980s fashion!

From its humble beginnings and an audience of just 200 locals at a one-night fundraiser, this international phenomenon began a journey that saw it outgrow its hometown of Nelson, and move to Wellington, the country’s cultural capital, where it is now New Zealand’s single largest annual theatrical production.

Read more about the history of the World of WearableArt Show here.

3. What is the WOW Show about?

Today an audience of over 60,000 descends on Wellington each year with the show running over a three-week period. Each year the show is a themed two-hour spectacle of wearable art modelled with music and dance. 

The show has incredibly high production values, with sophisticated lighting and stage technology, culminating in an event that is part theatre, part fashion spectacle, part art extravaganza, and a whole lot of “wow”!

The genesis for the show is the annual WOW competition, which attracts over 300 designers from New Zealand and overseas including UK, USA, Australia, India, Thailand, Israel, Sweden, Fiji, Netherlands, Canada, China, Indonesia and Germany.

Many designers work in creative fields such as film, fashion and art. Others entrants may be amateur designers, while in their day-to-day lives they might be professional doctors, teachers, welders, and boatbuilders. Basically, anyone can enter, which is one of the reasons the garments are so extraordinary.  

There are up to 33 prestigious awards, with more than $185,000 in prize money, and a sought-after work-placements such as the Weta Workshop in Wellington.

With three rounds of intensive judging, every costume is evaluated based on its originality, creativity, innovation and construction. The designers remain anonymous throughout the entire process, with the judges given just the name of the garment and a brief on its inspiration.

4. Who were the past WOW winners?

2023 WOW Supreme Award winner

Model wearing Earthling costume onstage
Earthling, Gill Saunders, New Zealand

2022 WOW Supreme Award winner

Model wearing black and brown gown with bicycle wheel behind onstage
Wanton Widow, Kate MacKenzie, New Zealand

2019 WOW Supreme Award winner

Model wearing The Lady Warrior costume onstage
The Lady Warrior, Rinaldy Yunardi, Indonesia

5. Have there been any New Zealand winners of WOW?

New Zealand designers generally make up half of the finalists, with many winning awards across all the categories. Recent big award winners were Gill Saunders from Nelson who won the Supreme Award in 2023 with her garment Earthly, after taking the award in 2016 with her Super Nova entry.

Christchurch-based sisters, Tatyanna Meharry and Natasha English, won the Supreme Award in 2013. Their two-garment entry “The Exchange” is a contemporary portrait of the Treaty of Waitangi, with the dual garments being made from ceramic feathers and coins. The garments portray the ongoing acts of cultural assimilation through the exchange and realisation of gifts and promises.

Runner-up in 2013 was also a New Zealander from Nelson, Peter Wakeman. His garment, “Chica under Glass” was awarded the Avant-garde Award and runner-up to the Supreme Award.  

6. How much are WOW tickets in 2024?

Ticket Type

Price From

Stageside Experience

NZD $299


NZD $199


NZD $179

A Reserve

NZD $149

B Reserve

NZD $99

C Reserve

NZD $79

You can see more information on ticket types on the World of WearableArt Show Ticket Info page.

7. What are the 2024 WOW show dates and times?

You can see the Performance Schedule on the World of WearableArt Show Ticket Info page.

8. Are there any VIP packages to WOW?

VIP packages are available on a limited number of nights: 26 September (the opening night), 27 September (the awards night), 02-04 Oct and 9-11 Oct. Availability may change over time so please check the WOW ticket website for the latest.

A World of WearableArt VIP table booking includes complementary glass of bubbles on arrival, a pre-show dining experience and entertainment while dining, a selection of  beverages, stage side seating for the awards show and a WOW Show Programme.

VIP Table cost NZD $4790 + GST for a table of 10.

9. What is the best way to get to the WOW Show?

There are two main options you can consider. The first option is to organise separate flights and accommodation. Flights will set you back roughly $60-$160 per person for an Air New Zealand flight and accommodation in Wellington can vary anywhere from $200-$350 per night and will be considerably more at the time of the show.

The second option is to take an organised tour which includes accommodation and tickets to the event. MoaTours runs World of WearableArt Show tours in September/October which include all transport from Auckland, accommodation, meals and Platinum tickets to the event ensuring that you will have some of the best seats in the house. With a MoaTour you will also explore the beautiful countryside and enjoy the tranquility of Hawke’s Bay after the buzz of Wellington. With many beautiful gardens to visit such as and Gwavas historic homestead and Moondance Manor with three private lunches along the way, this is an outstanding tour full of entertainment, gardens, food and delight.

10. Where is the World of WearableArt Show held?

The World of WearableArt Show take place in the TSB Arena, in Central Wellington.

Tours You'll Love

World of WearableArt Show 6 Day Tour

Enjoy the best of the WOW Show, 5 star luxury at the Bolton Hotel and stay on the lakeside at Taupo and Napier’s waterfront.
Scroll to Top