About Us


Festival Milestones

1948 - 1982
Auckland was the first city in the Asia Pacific to have a large festival.

February 2000
Almost 20 years later, Auckland City Council reinvented the festival, based on the premise that Auckland is a rich, dynamic, diverse, important city. Auckland City Council voted to support the establishment of a unique arts and cultural festival for Auckland celebrating its position in the Pacific. AK03, the inaugural event of the "new" Auckland Festival, opened on 20 September 2003.

March 2001
The newly appointed Trustees staged 'The Launching', a spectacular free event in Aotea Square to herald the Auckland Festival's beginning.

September 2003
AK03 opened on 20 September 2003. Highlights included Sticky, the opening event at Britomart Square; the closures of Queen Street for free music and culture weekends; the wildly popular It's in the Bag; the sultry sounds of Ute Lemper and the first time collaboration of the NZSO and APO.

February 2005
Auckland Festival, AK05 opened on 25th Feburary. Highlights of the program included The Death of Klinghoffer, Bangarra Dance Theatre, The Three Furies, Vula, Commotion and Cabaret Decadanse.

June 2006
Auckland City in partnership Creative New Zealand report on Aucklanders and the Arts - Aucklanders were asked to name any arts event or activities in Auckland that has made proud to be an Aucklander - Named in second place after Pasifika, was Auckland Festival, AK05.

March 2007
From the opening event at the Auckland Domain, the pyrotechnic performance A Little More Light by Groupe F, watched by a record 170,000 spectators, the 2007 Festival created a sense of excitement and buzz throughout the city.

A record number of shows sold out, including international shows; Max Black, 10 Days on Earth, La Clique, Eddie Perfect and Spaghetti Western Orchestra; plus local seasons of Taki Rua's Strange Resting Places, Tusiata Avia's Wild Dogs Under My Skirt, Black Graces' Amata, Silo Theatre's Ensemble Project, NZSO's Mahler-The Resurrection, and Jennifer Ward-Lealand's Falling in Love Again.

For the first time the Festival included a dedicated hub where artists and public gathered, day and night. Named Red Square, and located behind the Britomart transport centre, this area was home to The Famous Spiegeltent, the Festival Club and the Spiegel Bar and Café. Each night a variety of local and international musicians played at these venues creating a lively Festival epicentre.

August 2008
The Auckland Regional Amenities Funding Act 2008 was passed. The Act established a framework for the secure and sustainable funding of 11 organisations that provide arts, educational, rescue or other community facilities and services which are vital for the Auckland region. Auckland Festival is one of only four arts organisations funded under the Act.

March 2009
Auckland Festival 2009 drew critical, public and media acclaim, hosting more than 100 events across the disciplines of theatre, music, dance, circus, cabaret, burlesque, comedy and visual arts.

New commissions and productions through the Festival's Watch this Space initiative, including The Arrival, The Kreutzer and sleep/wake are set to tour the world and represent NZ on the international arts scene.  The Festival's international co-commission, Ea Sola's The White Body, continued on to Paris, Amsterdam and many other cities.

International highlights included Robert Lepage's The Andersen Project and nostalgia by Japanese company Ishinha. Red Square moved to Aotea Square and was once again home to the Famous Spiegeltent as well as to the inaugural NZ Post Family Weekend.

March 2011
A 19 day long world-class programme saw world premieres of New Zealand works rapt (Douglas Wright), Live, Live Cinema: Carnival of Souls, and New Zeibekiko (John Psathas).
International highlights included The Manganiyar Seduction (Roysten Abel, India), U Theatre's Sound of the Ocean, Smoke & Mirrors, Paul Kelly, Daniel Kitson, Martha Wainwright and Jack DeJohnette.  The New Zealand Opera's Xerxes, Red Leap's Paper Sky and Havoc in the Garden (Massive Company) were popular events in New Zealand programme. The Festival Garden was the Festival Heart on the newly refurbished Aotea Square.  Taiwan's U Theatre kicked off the Asia Pacific region's first White Night, a dail-long invitation by over 50 galleries to discover visual arts around Auckland.

March 2013
The 2013 Auckland Arts Festival was the most successful festival in its history with record attendances at events and largest box office income ever.
It featured more than 300 events and over 1000 artists participated including three  national theatre companies. There were 63  sold out performances.
Highlights included Groupe F's Breath of the Volcano, Urban (Circolumbia), Everything is Ka Pai, War Requiem (with the APO), One Man, Two Guvnors (National Theatre of Great Britain), The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart (National Theatre of Scotland) and Rhinoceros in Love (National Theatre of China).

A new Maori work HUI by Mitch Tawhi Thomas premiered alongside the re-staging of the Pacific musical The Factory by Kila Kokonut Krew.

Audiences were again welcomed over 19 days to the Festival Garden in Aotea Square, including the Festival Club (Spiegeltent), Tiffany Singh's Fly Me Up to Where You Are which she created with 4,000 Auckland children and Srinivas Krishna's video artwork When the Gods Came Down To Earth, as well as free music, family days and the opportunity to relax and meet friends over food and drink.

White Night took place throughout Auckland City with 83 galleries, museums and other locations opening their doors to more than 20,000 attendees.

April 2013
City Council's issues vote of confidence and support in principal for annualisation of the Festival.