Auckland Pride Month Returns Triumphant: Full 2023 Festival Programme Announced

Auckland Pride’s full festival programme has been released, offering a wide spectrum of events, gatherings, and experiences from 1 – 26 February. Defying a disrupted year, the Festival will take over the summer of 2023 energised and better than ever with over 100 offerings designed to elevate the community, arts, and Tāmaki Makaurau at large.

Pride 2023 Elevate4065 Landscape

Auckland Pride 2023 boasts an expansive arts programme that transcends mediums, disciplines, and artforms. From drag artistry to the most experimental edges of live art. From plays to improv comedy. To exhibitions to gigs and literary panels. Community events include a fantastic range of workshops, parties, speed dating, and even a little bit of touch rugby.

“Auckland Pride is excited to be celebrating and uplifting artists at the centre of our 2023 festival” says Auckland Pride Creative Director Nathan Joe. “This is a programme that places the artists in the spotlight. A programme that displays the phenomenal range and versatility of our community. A programme that will unify our queer communities through the unique intimacy of live events.”

Opening the festival and running for the duration of the 26 days is Auckland Pride’s major public art event Te Tīmatanga. Now in its second year this rangatahi led public art & digital festival looks to celebrate the legacy, resilience, talents and nuanced lived experiences of Aotearoa’s kāhui takatāpui. 

This year artists and events confirmed include the release of Resident Kiriana Kemp’s premiere video work, wānanga by Kauae Raro, Whakamanatia, Atarangi Anderson, Hana Burgess, Haylee Koroi and Ngaumu Jones, huarahi toi (Public Art) and panel event at Britomart hosted by Kaiwhakahaere Takatāpui Hāmiora Bailey, showcasing Maia Keane, Terima Whakatau, Pounamu Wharekawa, and whakangahau (performances) captured on the water in partnership with the Viaduct.

As previously announced, The Pride March has shifted to a standalone major event this year. The new route starting on Lorne Street and marching down Queen Street into Takutai Square, allows for greater capacity and accessibility for this significant event.

“The Pride March will be a powerful display of solidarity and community as we come together once more to demand further progress” says Executive Director Max Tweedie. “We invite all of our communities to come together to share in the excitement and energy of the collective as we uplift the voices that are often forgotten or silenced to allow for an energetic display of liberation and celebration.”

Auckland Pride can also confirm more details on the epic final weekend of the Festival at Pride in the Square, which brings together the widest ranging group of interdisciplinary artists in the festival’s history for a 2-day celebration of queer joy. Presented in partnership with Auckland Live, Aotea Square will come alive on the 24 and 25 February with community groups, DJ’s, drag artists and musicians from across the motu. Kicking off the celebrations on Friday night is the joyful Caribbeanz Southern Stars Steel Band followed by BabyFreekk’s Drag Hour of Power. DJ’s RNG-SUS, the iconic Diesel, Little Bok Choy, and Nic Tims follow, bringing the club to the square!

Saturday sees the documentary series, Queer and Here from Whakaata Māori playing throughout the day. Pride’s partnership with Action Education fills the late afternoon with an hour-long poetry slam supported by a fantastic DJ. This family friendly offering highlights some of our most celebrated poets alongside emerging rangatahi. As the night progresses, South Auckland takatāpui rock band Valkyrie will bring their iconic songs to the main stage. Supported by upcoming artists Arielwose and Jason Parker, this showcase of queer excellence will not be one to miss. Two of Tāmaki’s favourite DJ’s will support the lineup with Sharon from Payroll and Vercetti bringing the energy to pump the beats and slay late into the night!

Those looking for a more intimate live music vibe can check out Little Gay In, a showcase of Aotearoa’s most exciting rainbow artists, playing at new music venue, BIG FAN on 17 February.

The festival is thrilled to confirm the return of Auckland Council’s Proud Centres. Now in its fifth year this popular programme sees halls, libraries, recreation centres and other Auckland Council-owned facilities open their doors to members of Auckland’s LGBTQIA+ communities, supporting them to host and deliver a range of free, community-focused events for all to enjoy. Highlights for 2023 include the return of the Supreme Ball, Drag Queen story times across local libraries, Waack Attack Workshops, Pride book swaps, high teas, picnics and more. 

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki will play host to GALS Auckland Rainbow Choir for an uplifting afternoon concert. This outstanding community choir is now in its 30th year and will share its musical highlights in the magnificent Mackelvie Gallery. There’s also an opportunity for attendees to learn how to crochet their own Rainbow flag to take home or one of the many others that represent LGBTQIA+ identities at their Queer Yarns event. The Bergman Gallery will exhibit The more things change... part 1 and Studio One Toi Tu will host Seen and Heard, Embroidery for Crafty Queers, a Pride Pottery Workshop, and more! 

The central city is also home to the popular Silo Cinema Pride Edition with an outdoor screening of the recent cinematic gem Everything Everywhere All at Once. While over at Basement Theatre a vibrant month of queer programming sees the full lineup of F.O.L.A. [AKL] announced alongside the addition of Man Lessons: The Live Show by Adam Rohe, hot off their recent success in the Wellington Theatre Awards (nominated for the New Playwright award), and returning favourite No Homo: Queer Comedy.

Other new programme additions include P.O.P: PEOPLE OF POWER, Irregular Objects, FAFAGANDA, and Self-Made: a trans pride drag showcase, which celebrate the diversity of bodies and expressions of queer identity through drag, ballroom, burlesque and cabaret. 

The Auckland Performing Arts Centre (TAPAC) will play host to Waack Attack Vol 3. Performances on the night from Candee Collective, Desi Waacks and Prowl Productions. A fabulous lineup of drag queens and of course a night filled with amazing battles. 

A vast range of community-centred events supported by our Pride and Spark Empowerment Initiative include Ethnic Rainbow Alliance’s Pride Meet Up, Queer Speed Dating, and Pride at Dung Beetle Space. Those looking to try their hand at acting might want to look at signing up for the Rainbow Actors Workshop

Bear New Zealand Week 2023 is hosting a wide range of events, including Mr Bear New Zealand, Tri-Nations, Wet Fur, Summer Gear Up, Eat it & Beat it, Games Afternoon, and Comedy Night.

All of this joins the first release lineup, including the nine recently successful Pride Elevates projects, Samesame but Different’s takeover of the Ellen Melville Centre into a literary hub, multiple parties, shows and more ready to explode in venues across the city, from Raynham Park and Uxbridge Arts Centre to The Powerstation and Auckland Old Folks Association.