The best events to look forward to in and around Auckland
Tāmaki Makaurau offers a packed calendar of annual family events that showcase the city and its multicultural communities, art, music and food.
The largest city of Aotearoa attracts top international musicians – such as Sir Elton John and American pop phenomenon Billie Eilish – for sold-out shows in stadiums and arenas that draw visitors from across the country and from the stranger.
There are other more nostalgic and historic events that make use of Auckland’s diverse landscape – such as the Anniversary Day Regatta and Round the Bays fun race – while the Pasifika, Chinese Lantern and Indian Diwali festivals celebrate diversity culture of the city.
Here are some of the highlights to look forward to over the next 12 months.
* Cultural calendar: what’s happening in Auckland in August?
* The duo bringing the flavors of Ethiopia to West Auckland
* Auckland Food Show postponed due to uncertainty surrounding venues
* Auckland dining options to help you celebrate Diwali
Experience the best of the South Pacific at the largest Pacific Island cultural festival of its kind in the world at Tāmaki Makaurau next March.
The annual event now attracts around 60,000 visitors for a celebration of traditional island cultures, food, music and dance, with performances from the Cook Islands, Fiji, Hawai’i, Kiribati, from Niue, Samoa, Tahiti, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Aotearoa. .
The festival will return in 2023 after Covid-19 forced the cancellation of February 2022’s 30th anniversary celebrations, while the 2021 event only took place after it was first postponed when Auckland is upgraded to Tier 3. The much-loved festival was also canceled in 2019 following the Christchurch Mosque shooting, and in 2020 due to Covid-19.
Billie Eilish is welcomed by surprise in New Zealand, with an interpretation in te reo of her hit song Party’s Over.
Superstar Billie Eilish is set to return to Aotearoa in September with her Happier Than Ever, The World Tour. The American pop phenom will play shows for all ages at Spark Arena on September 8, 9 and 10 – her first down under since 2019, when she performed to sold-out crowds.
The new shows come off the back of her critically acclaimed and number one second album Happier Than Ever, and will follow sold-out tours across the US, UK and Europe. Having risen to fame for the past five years, with seven Grammy wins and 10 nominations, the 20-year-old became the youngest performer to headline Glastonbury in June, delivering a stunning spectacle that is causing a stir Kiwi fans.
Around the berries
Around 34,000 people participated in the Ports of Auckland Round the Bays 2020.
New Zealand’s biggest fun run takes place on March 5, following an 8.4km run around the Waitematā Harbor coastline. Operating since 1972, Round the Bays remains an iconic event attracting over 34,000 attendees and over 1,300 teams of different cultures, workplaces and abilities.
Round the Bays 2023 will be a hybrid event, allowing participants to participate in person at Tāmaki Makaurau and virtually the rest of the world.
From the start line on Quay Street outside Spark Arena, the route runs along Tamaki Drive – which is almost completely flat – through Judges Bay, Hobson Point, Okahu Bay, Mission Bay, Kohimarama Beach to St Heliers Bay, where the finish line is beside Vellenoweth Green.
Auckland Lantern Festival 2019 in the Auckland Domain
After a three-year hiatus, the Lantern Festival will make a welcome return to Tāmaki Makaurau in 2023, celebrating the culmination of Chinese New Year festivities.
First held in 2000, Auckland’s largest annual festival and New Zealand’s largest Chinese cultural festival attracts up to 100,000 people and showcases traditional and contemporary Chinese culture as well as Chinese stories and communities from Auckland.
The date of the festival changes every year according to the Chinese lunar calendar and every year a new Chinese zodiac animal is celebrated. The event last took place in 2019 at the Auckland Domain, before Covid-19 led to the cancellation of each of the last three scheduled festivals.
Anniversary Day Regatta
Auckland’s ports come alive to celebrate the City of Sails’ anniversary in one of the largest and most historic one-day regattas in the world.
The 183rd edition of Auckland’s Anniversary Day Regatta will take place on January 30, with hundreds of vessels – including vintage and modern vessels, gaff riggers, sloops, racing keelboats, multihulls, dinghies, radio-controlled boats, waka ama, marine reconnaissance boats, classic yachts and speedboats and tugboats.
Commemorating the founding of the province in 1840, the occasion is a great day for sailors, families and tourists, and thousands of spectators who can revel in the city’s maritime history.
Luke Nola and his friends
Roan and Zoya Sahrawat share their family’s festive practices in the run-up to Diwali (November 4). The Indian festival marks a new year with colorful traditions, dances and special treats.
The Auckland Diwali festival is inspired by Diwali or Deepavali (row of lamps), an ancient Indian festival celebrated by over a billion people across India and in Indian communities around the world.
Held annually in October in Aotea Square, Diwali – India’s Festival of Lights – signifies the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil and the renewal of life.
Since 2002, the Auckland Diwali Festival has grown into a hugely popular, free family event showcasing traditional and contemporary Indian culture and Auckland’s diverse Indian communities. Festival-goers can enjoy food, retail and information booths, and performances on multiple stages.
LAWRENCE SMITH / Stuff
Partygoers have fun at Splore 2020 being held in Tapapakanga Regional Park in South Auckland.
Kiwis of all ages will flock to Tāpapakanga Regional Park for the return of Splore, one of New Zealand’s most popular music and arts festivals.
Set on the shores of a coastal farm park, the family-friendly three-day event runs from February 24-26 and features some of the world’s best festival performers – bands, singers, MCs and DJs. A range of performing arts shows and workshops, plus Splore’s iconic Saturday night fancy dress party are also highlights not to be missed.
This year’s festival – which was due to host Teeks, Ladi6 and Kora – sold out in record time but was canceled in January due to limited attendance as Auckland was at the red light. All ticket holders can keep their ticket for the 2023 event.
Hamish McNeilly / Stuff
Elton John lands in Dunedin for the start of his New Zealand tour in February 2020.
Fans will finally be able to see Elton John perform on his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour of New Zealand in January 2023. The legendary singer – known for hits such as Bennie and the Jets, Rocket Man and Tiny Dancer – will return to Mt Smart Stadium on January 27 and 28, to play the two Auckland shows he was unable to play after his 2020 tour was cut short when he was diagnosed with pneumonia.
The John’s Farewell Tour began in September 2018 and when it ends in July 2023 it will have played over 300 shows across five continents. He first visited New Zealand in October 1971, performing in Auckland, and has performed here more than 20 times since.
Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival
The 2022 edition of Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival will screen in 14 towns and villages across Aotearoa between July 28 and August 31.
An annual celebration for Kiwi film fans, the International Film Festival is a national event aimed at enhancing appreciation and engagement with art and culture through a diverse range of film.
With a massive program of 150-170 feature films, the Festival opens in Auckland a week before its start in Wellington, with the two overlapping for 10 of their respective 17-day seasons.
The 2023 event will mark the 55th Auckland Festival, which is famous for the Civic Theater and other cinemas including the ASB Waterfront Theater and Hollywood at Avondale. Book early to secure the best seats, while frequent attendees can purchase 10-trip passes in advance.