Auckland Pride Festival 2021 Brings Rainbow Colours to All Corners of New Zealand's Biggest City and Announces New Dates

After an extended Festival, Auckland Pride are delighted to announce that Pride Month is here to stay, confirming the festival dates for next year: 1-27 February 2022. The full Auckland region has enjoyed a spectacular first Pride Month as the Auckland Pride Festival 2021 has brought rainbow colours to every corner of the city. 

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Proudly supported by Auckland Unlimited, 2021’s Auckland Pride is one of the few festivals to be held in the world due to COVID-19, safely bringing together more than 75,000 people regionwide to celebrate and activate for further change. Aotearoa’s response to the pandemic along with effective planning by the Auckland Pride team has allowed for a hugely successful Festival, against all odds. The original two week festival was extended to Pride Month for the first time in 2021, which was further extended as lockdown measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Auckland impacted the festival twice.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said it had been a fantastic festival. "Auckland Pride Festival is a celebration of our city's inclusiveness and of our Rainbow communities, who make a big contribution to Auckland's vibrancy. The art, music, theatre performances and celebrations have lit up the city and showcased Auckland's diversity,"  he said. 

"The Level 3 COVID-19 lockdowns did affect the festival but I'm really pleased that many events were able to go ahead even under restrictions.  Congratulations to the Pride team, Auckland Unlimited, stakeholders and the community for their work to ensure that Auckland could enjoy a fantastic festival despite the challenges of the pandemic."

The 2021 Festival officially opened with Tūwheratanga, a traditional Māori dawn blessing atop Maungawhau-Mt Eden, acknowledging our indigenous takatāpui communities and calling for connection with a karanga.  Opening to full houses and celebrations right across the region, Aucklanders revelled in the chance to gather and celebrate as a community for the first week of Pride. Selling out the iconic Pride Gala, the premiere screening of homegrown feature film Rūrangi, and the first Pasifika Pride F’INE Festival at the Māngere Arts Centre, energy levels were high on the first weekend of an amazing month in Auckland’s events calendar. 

The party continued with the Ending HIV Big Gay Out on Valentine’s Day, welcoming the biggest turnout in the event’s history. Over ten thousand poured into Coyle Park to celebrate together as dozens of queer artists took to the stage and hundreds of community organisations and independent stall holders showcased their wares. A surprise visit from queer icon Michelle Visage, most known for her resident judge status on the global sensation RuPaul’s Drag Race, saw her take to the stage with Tāmaki Makuarau’s legendary vogue house COVEN-Carangi, capping off a truly wonderful highlight of the 2021 festivities.

A short sharp pivot up the COVID-19 Alert Levels saw Auckland Pride roll out their COVID contingency plans, as the city spent a week with heightened restrictions on gathering sizes. 34 events were postponed, 4 moved online, and 16 continued with social distancing restrictions, meaning that 33 events were cancelled out of the 87 events affected by the lockdown announcement. As Auckland returned to Alert Level One in time for the final week of Pride Month, major events returned to the line-up of offerings. Over 300 people packed into Auckland Art Gallery Toi O Tāmaki for the sold-out Supreme Ball 2.0, hosted by House COVEN.

The third annual Auckland Pride March took over the heart of the city on Saturday 27th, seeing 9,000 people from Auckland’s diverse rainbow communities take to the streets in a call for action, community, protest, and celebration, led by the Mothers of Tāmaki Makaurau's leading Vogue Houses - Mother Falencie Filipo (AITU), Moe Laga (COVEN-Carangi) and Jaycee Tanuvasa (IMAN). Leading with five formal calls for change, among them was a call to Government to ban conversion therapy. A petition signed by 157,764 New Zealanders was tabled in the week leading up to the March at Parliament, committed to be enacted by the Government by Pride Month in 2022. 

Moving up Aotearoa’s most famous street with chanting of ‘Trans Lives Matter’, the March ended in Aotea Square, where the Pride Party immediately kicked off. Hosted by Miss Geena and Hugo Grrrl, the revelry continued into the night as thousands stayed to celebrate as the last event of the Festival to be held in Pride Month. Due to postponements enforced by the changes to Alert Levels, events originally scheduled as part of the Auckland Pride Festival are continuing into March and April, including the IMAN Ball which welcomed hundreds to the ASB Tennis Centre on Saturday night and the Splash Pool Party rounding out a summer of Pride.

Seeing our communities and Auckland as a whole embracing Pride Month was incredible,” says Director of Auckland Pride Max Tweedie.

Our month-long celebrations enabled significant visibility of our diverse communities, with our largest festival programme and festival audience to date. It was therefore a no brainer for the Month to become the norm, and we’re thrilled that Pride will once again paint our largest city rainbow in February 2022.

Some of the city’s biggest institutions embraced the spirit of Pride Month in 2021, including NZ Post who launched a Pride Stamp, released to mark 2021 as 35 years since the Homosexual Law Reform Bill was passed in New Zealand. Auckland Transport transformed the pedestrian crossing near St Kevin’s Arcade on Karangahape Road into a giant Progress Pride Flag. This added even more brightness to the landscape of Tāmaki Makarau, where rainbow colours were already in place in and around Auckland Hospital, and the Ellen Melville Centre with the return of the much photographed rainbow stairs complementing the wrap of the building by takatāpui artist Huriana Kopeke-Te Aho. Landmarks across the cityscape lit up the night sky in rainbow colours, with the Sky Tower, the Auckland Museum, the Auckland Harbour Bridge, and Eden Park all showcasing rainbow lights installations during Pride Month.

Auckland Pride are excited to celebrate their final events of this year’s Festival and embark on planning the next incredible programme.

The 2021 Auckland Pride Festival was made possible through the support of our Major Partners: Spark & Rocketwerkz, and our Government Partners: NZ Major Events, Auckland Unlimited, and Auckland Council.

The 2022 Auckland Pride Festival will run 1-27 February 2022

For further enquiries contact: Max Tweedie, Director of Pride 027 868 0774