Top 5s: Auckland Arts Festival

The next three weeks in Auckland is so tightly packed with wonderment that it’s almost too overwhelming to engage with it at all. The reason for all the action is the Auckland Arts Festival, with so many great local and international music, theatre and art acts, concentrated at the NZ Herald Festival Garden in Aotea Square. We’ve pored over the programme and picked five things we think you’ll love.

Carabosse – Fire Garden


4-6 March // Auckland Domain // 8.30pm
Tickets: $12-$33

Let’s start in the most obvious of places, with bright lights and spectacle. French fire-artists Carabosse travel the world, transforming familiar spaces into fire gardens. They’ve done it to the banks of the Thames and the gates of the Kremlin, and now they’re turning Auckland’s favourite garden, The Domain, into a fiery wonderland for three nights only. Bring friends and family along to stroll the familiar paths filled with strange sights and beautiful sounds. For anyone who wishes they could star in a fairytale.

White Night


12 March // city-wide // 6pm-midnight

This is the night when Auckland stays awake to celebrate art, with galleries staying open late into the night, and free performances in public spaces from dancers, actors, circus performers and more.Keep an eye out for the handy map we created with Heart of the City and the Auckland Arts Festival.


Meow Meow’s Little Mermaid


9-13 March // Spiegeltent, Aotea Square
Tickets: $63-$69

It’s a fairytale cabaret that subverts Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid, which in itself is nothing like the Disney version. Meow Meow’s tale features a beautiful, bawdy and hilarious selection of songs that follow our mermaid on her journey to find the handsome prince. It features a live band and a live prince.

John Grant


18 March // Great Hall, Auckland Town Hall // 8.30pm

We’re a little bit enchanted by this fascinating human and his voice. John Grant is an American-born singer songwriter who currently lives in Iceland. He’s recorded with Midlake, and his album Pale Green Ghosts, features backing vocals from Sinead O’Connor. He released his latest, Grey Tickles, Black Pressure, late last year to critical acclaim. He sings honestly and painfully about coming out in middle America, about discovering he’s HIV positive, and about finding love and peace in Iceland. His life sounds like a novel, and his music is by turns weird, atmospheric and brilliant.

We played this song loud at ArtDego in 2014 as people walked up the Auckland Art Gallery stairs into the dining room. It was a magic moment.

Changes 變


16-19 March // SkyCity Theatre
Tickets: $39-$55

This is the world premier of two new contemporary dance works from two renowned choreographers, exploring concepts of death and diversity. Neil Ieremia’s Another Letter from Earth explores death in all its forms and consequences, as catalyst that heals wounds but also breaks hearts. Kuik See Boon’s 變化與恆常 Change and Constancy explores the differences between the choreographer’s own society in Singapore and that of the dancers from Black Grace. It raises questions about tolerance of difference and acceptance of diversity which are always so depressingly relevant. Kuik See Boon is the first choreographer that Neil Ieremia has ever asked to work with Black Grace. It’s going to be special.