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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, and expanding city, New Zealand's largest. Auckland City Council voted to support the establishment of a distinctive 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. Directed by Mike Mizrahi and Marie Adams.

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. Festival Director: Simon Prast. 
Visit the 2003 gallery

February 2005

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

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 them 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 Grace's 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. Festival Director: David Malacari. 
Visit the 2007 gallery

August 2008

The Auckland Regional Amenities Funding Act 2008 was passed. The Act established a framework for the secure and sustainable funding of 10 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. Red Leap Theatre's The Arrival went on 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. Early 2009 David Inns joined the Festival as Chief Executive.  Festival Director: David Malacari. 
Visit the 2009 gallery

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 the 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, where the over 50 galleries remained open until midnight inviting all Aucklanders to discover visual arts around the city. Artistic Director: David Malacari/Chief Executive: David Inns. 
Visit the 2011 gallery


March 2013

The 2013 Auckland Arts Festival was the most successful festival to date achieving record attendances and more than doubling the box office income.
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. Artistic Director: Carla van Zon/Chief Executive: David Inns. 
Visit the 2013 gallery


The 2013 Festival Review can be downloaded HERE

November 2013

In November the Auckland Council’s Budget Committee resolved to consult in the draft 2014/15 annual plan, to help assess the level of public support for the provision of additional council funding for annualisation of the Auckland Arts Festival.

May 2014

Auckland Council voted unanimously in support of a trial annual festival as part of its budget meeting. The Council voted to provide for additional funding to the Festival for a trial annual festival in 2016.

March 2015

The 2015 Auckland Arts Festival was a 19-day, high-energy celebration of our city, people and cultures with a programme that appealed to all ages and introduced Aucklanders and visitors to new, once-in-a-lifetime performances, mind-blowing art works and ideas.

More than 900 artists from 33 countries delivered 145 ticketed performances and 208 free exhibitions and events in 86 locations across the city. From Leigh to Papakura, Titirangi to Howick, the Festival offered unique experiences for audiences and artists, reaching 180,000 people. Artistic Director: Carla van Zon/Chief Executive: David Inns.
Visit the 2015 gallery



The 2015 Festival Review can be downloaded HERE