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7 Of The Best Auckland Pride Festival Events You Can’t Miss In 2023

By Alice Rich
8th Feb 2023

A drag queen poses fabulously while surrounded by rainbow flags on Ponsonby Road.

Rising from the ashes of last year's cancellation, Auckland Pride Festival is back, baby. 

Yes, it’s that beautiful time again—a chance to celebrate Tāmaki Makaurau’s vibrant takatāpui and queer communities through creative talent, togetherness and love. Spanning most of February, this year’s festival theme is Elevate which has been defined by the organisers as defy, transcend, energise, slay and unify, so you know it’s going to be a vibe. With the evolving situation with the Auckland floods, be sure to check the individual event pages below and also here for the latest news from Auckland Pride.

While there are over 100 events, gatherings and experiences to get amongst, we’ve rounded up 12 of the best things to do this Auckland Pride Festival including the postponed Big Gay Out

Te Tīmatanga

1-26 February, Albert Park Caretakers' Cottage

Returning for its second year, Te Tīmatanga is a rangatahi-led public art and digital festival and community hub celebrating Takatāpuitanga. The festival-within-a-festival is set in Albert Park, the location of Aotearoa’s first ever Gay Liberation Protests which took place back in March 1972 led by lesbian and Māori rights activist Ngahuia Te Awekotuku, a pivotal moment in Aotearoa’s LGBTQI+ history. 

Art Chemist

2 February and every weekend through February, Karangahape Road 

A curious interactive performance art and installation will appear at Studio One Toi Tū’s new Karangahape Road pop-up site and the Albert Park Caretakers’ Cottage. Part apothecary, part therapy with a bold artistic flavour, receive a one-on-one consultation with the Art Chemist for creativity to soothe your soul. 

Drag Bingo

*Postponed due to Cyclone Gabrielle*

Everything’s better when drag is involved. Everything. Needless to say, Drag Bingo isn’t the stuffy old game you find at a pokey pub, it’s a marvellous, kickass Bingo moment of unbridled fun, with all the antics plus the chance to win a bunch of prizes. Unfortunately, Cyclone Gabrielle has put a pause on this event but keep your eyes peeled for a new date. In the meantime, check out Queens Down Under and A Trans Pride Drag Show

Rainbow Baker Competition 

25 February, Nathan Homestead

Nathan Homestead is hosting a Rainbow Baker Competition with a $150 Hill House Cafe voucher up for grabs. To enter, simply sign up, flex your imagination and bake a dish inspired by the rainbow-think bright, bold and brilliant-and present it for judging at 11am this Saturday. After the judging you’ll be able to wrap your mouth around all the vibrant treats. This tasty affair is part of Auckland Pride Festival

Show Ponies

25 February, Basement Theatre

Get ready to snap your fingers, Show Ponies is another damn fine Auckland Pride Festival event. Part slam poetry, part pop star gig, you’ll be treated to live readings to bangin’ beats, complete with back up dancers. Featuring Freya Daly Sadgrove, Rebecca Hawkes, Dan Goodwin, Emma Barnes, Vanessa Meri Crofskey, Sam Duckor-Jones, essa may ranapiri, Ruby Solly and Chris Tse, this is one unmissable show. Tickets are ‘pay what you can’ starting from $5. 

Pride In The Square

24-25 February, Aotea Square

Pride In The Square is rounding off the festivities, a massive two-day festival of DJs, drag artistry, musicians, poetry and community groups. The lineup includes DJ Little Bok Choy, Sharon from Payroll and Vercetti plus BabyFreekk’s Drag Hour of Power, Valkyrie, and more. Entry is free. 

Big Gay Out

*Postponed 'til 12 March due to flooding*

One of the most hotly anticipated events in the Auckland Pride Festival programme, Coyle Park will be transformed into the free one-day festival we all know and love: Big Gay Out. The lineup includes Theia, Shanita, Kita Mean, The Tiwhas and the Thirst Trap Vogue Ball by House of Aitu. It's just been announced that the biggest rainbow festival in Aotearoa has been postponed to Sunday 12 March due to slips and significant moisture in the ground at Coyle Park. Burnett Foundation Aotearoa Chief Executive Joe Rich says that the health and safety of the community is always the foundation’s top priority. “Following the Auckland Anniversary weekend floods, we requested that Auckland Council inspect Coyle Park and advise whether it is safe to hold the event. Following an inspection, council notified us that Coyle Park would not be able to hold the event on Sunday 12 February,” says Mr. Rich. “The new date will give Council more time to repair any damage to the park and ensure it is safe, particularly given more bad weather has been forecast for this weekend. 

Need a spot to freshen up in between the events? Why not squeeze in a bit of R&R at one (or more) of Auckland’s Best Rooftop Bars.

Image credit: Ponsonby Street Festival, Festival Of Live Art.

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