What's On

Here’s What Not To Miss At This Year’s Auckland Arts Festival

By Ava Wardecki
26th Feb 2019

Auckland Arts Festival: Here’s What You Can’t Miss!

The stages are set, the lines are learned, the creative juices are well and truly flowing—the Auckland Arts Festival is back for its eleventh glorious year. Bringing acts and artists from all corners of the world, the festival promises to light up our city and social calendars with splendour. With performances ranging from physical theatre to cabarets, circus to live music and everything in between, there’s a tantalising line up of acts in store to delight festival newbies and seasoned culture-vultures alike. 

Grab your tickets, take to your seats and prepare to be thoroughly dazzled: here are the must-see Auckland Arts Festival events gracing this year’s lineup.

A Man of Good Hope

After tugging at the heartstrings of audiences in New York and London, it’s Auckland’s turn to be wowed by A Man Of Good Hope. Following eight-year-old Asad’s journey from an Ethiopian shantytown through the continent on his quest to reach South Africa, this vibrant tale of resiliency is explored through the song and dance of South African company, Isango Ensemble. Both a thought-provoking and feel-good piece of musical theatre, A Man Of Good Hope should be right at the top of your Auckland Arts Festival bucket wishlist. 

When: 14th—18thMarch

Where: ASB Waterfront Theatre


Forget the circus as you’ve seen it, Backbone has other plans in store. With no clowns or crazy costuming in sight, this show strips circus back to its physical and emotional very core and lets the human body take centre stage. Prepare for your jaw to hit the floor as Aussie contemporary circus company Gravity & Other Myths pull off impressive and impossible acrobatics with the bare essentials—all in the midst of award-winning stagecraft and exciting live music. 

When: 14th—17th March

Where: ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre

Blanc de Blanc

Glamazons, this one is for you. Dust off your sequins and get ready to don your finest sparkles—the cabaret’s officially in town. After sell-out performances in London and Sydney, Blanc de Blanc adds a healthy and glittery dose of glamour to the Auckland Arts Festival lineup—and of course—to our social calendars. This cabaret-circus spectacle will treat and tease audiences with titillating burlesque, daring acrobatic acts and glamorous performances, with a pinch of sultriness, sprinkled throughout. 

When: 7th—24th March

Where: Spiegeltent, Aotea Square

Camille O'Sullivan – Cave

Returning to Auckland to treat us to more of her golden voice, Camille O’Sullivan is back with Cave. From Radiohead to David Bowie, she’s enchanted audiences around the world with her unique interpretations of legendary music. This year, Cave's performance features pieces by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds—as well as plenty wit, style and theatre. 

When: 13th March

Where: The Civic

Grand Finale

Part dance, part theatre, part live music, Grand Finale is the show that’s got everything going for it. Featuring a mix of electric choreography and live music—composed by the choreographer Hofesh Shecter himself—this contemporary dance show is a dynamic exploration of a world that’s on the brink of collapse. Throw in a transforming, cinematic, and downright impressive set into the mix and you’ve got all the ingredients for the most riveting and exciting armageddon you’ve ever seen on a screen, on stage or in a nightmare.

When: 21st—23rd March

Where: ASB Waterfront Theatre

The Dreamer

Taking cues from both Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Tang Xianzu’s romance The Peony Pavilion, The Dreamer is an enchanting adaptation of two classics. More than just a mashup of storylines, this piece is a blend East and West cultures—all wrapped up in one beautiful hour of physical theatre. This show will transport you to another realm as you follow the main character Helena’s escape from dreary day-to-day-life into a dreamland. Here, she meets her meeting the man of her (quite literal) dreams and fights her way through nightmares to make true love become reality. 

When: 21st—24th March

Where: The Civic

The Magic Flute 

Opera performances aren’t all about larger-than-life divas, dressed to the nines, belting to the very top of their lungs. In The Magic Flute’s case, a spectacular projected animation show is part of the equation. In an utterly unique imagination of this classic Mozart fairytale, renowned opera company Komische Oper Berlin fuses a kaleidoscope of kooky animations with the talent of their 75-strong chorus and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra. With giant forest spiders and elephants in martini glasses among the pixelated pals met along the way, this magic performance promises to, quite literally, be the most animated interpretation of this (or any other) opera. 

When: 8th—10th March

Where: ASB Theatre

Toku Reo Waiata

Like a mini festival within the festival, Toku Reo Waiata is a fabulous celebration of the indigenous voices of Aotearoa. For one evening only, smack-bang in the middle of the festival, a stellar line up of top Kiwi musicians will band together to lend their voices to an extravaganza of Maori music. Prepare for a feast for the ears and soul with songs and sing-alongs with performers including Stan Walker, Annie Crummer, Moana Maniapoto, Hinewehi Mohi, Maisey Rika and Seth Haapu, to name a few.

When: 16 March

Where: Auckland Town Hall

Ulster American

With a Carol Tambor, Best of Edinburgh Fringe Award under its belt, you can be sure that Ulster American is a play you most definitely want to put at the top of your Auckland Arts Festival hit list. Following the happenings of three creatives brought together for a West End performance, this black comedy explores themes of abuses of power and the silencing of female voices. Expect razor-sharp wit, confrontational themes and explosive scenes all rolled into one gasp-inducing performance. 

When: 7th—24thMarch

Where: ASB Waterfront Theatre


Mid-week, musical escapism doesn’t come better than RYHE. Made up of a revolving cast of various musicians and creatives and lead by musician extraordinaire Michael Milosh, RHYE puts a unique spin on the R&B genre as we know it. Using an other-worldly chorus of synthesised instruments and vocals to make captivating music, it’s no surprise that their last album, Woman, was on the receiving end of rave reviews. Their one Auckland show promises to be no exception, as they treat us to a musical journey of their latest album, Blood.

When: 12th March

Where: Spiegeltent, Aotea Square

Since you're already out and about, here are the best things to do in Auckland at night. 

Image Credit: Iko Freese Drama Berlin

We’re dedicated to keeping our recommendations and content free. SUPPORT URBAN LIST

Get our top stories direct to your inbox.

Get our top stories direct to your inbox.

You May Also Like