Auckland Pride Festival Elevates Queer Arts with 2023 First Release Programme

Auckland Pride is proud to announce the first wave of the 2023 programme is now live, for a full month of celebration and connection from 1 – 26 February. The Festival will include much loved annual gatherings, new key events to mark in the calendar, and a programme brimming with arts experiences throughout Tāmaki Makaurau, all framed within this year’s theme of ‘Elevate’.

Pride 2023 Elevate4955 Landscape

Auckland Pride confirms the return of key events this year with a number of changes that aim to make the festival even more accessible, empowering Auckland’s rainbow communities to fully immerse themselves in the joyous queer experiences Pride has to offer.

“It’s a privilege to present Elevate: The 2023 Auckland Pride Festival” says Executive Director Max Tweedie. “Drawn from a desire to rise above the challenges our communities face, take our Festival to the next level, and lift up the voices of our community - elevate perfectly encapsulates our aspirations for the 2023 Auckland Pride Festival.”

The Pride March continues to be one of the biggest events during Pride Month and will be held in the early afternoon of Saturday 18 February. Following community consultation, with the aim of ensuring the March is a more effective platform for activism as well as more accessible, the Pride March route will now be down the iconic Queen Street. This evolution has meant the event will also stand alone, allowing Auckland Pride to grow both events effectively. Then for the following and final weekend, Pride is taking over Aotea Square on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 February with Pride in the Square to celebrate the end of Pride Month with a free all-ages event. With a variety of performers, DJ’s, and musicians, alongside daytime programming on the Saturday for rainbow families and rangatahi. 

For the second year Auckland Pride’s emerging Takatāpui festival Te Tīmatanga returns. This Rangatahi led public art & digital festival looks to celebrate the legacy, resilience, talents and nuanced lived experiences of Aotearoa’s kāhui takatāpui. Sitting humbly in the Albert Park Caretakers Cottage, Te Tīmatanga is excited to open its doors to workshops, wānanga and public programming throughout the month. This year, Te Tīmatanga’s opening video will be the delivery of the Creative NZ Rangatahi Takatāpui Residency, established by Elyssia Wilson-Heti in 2022. Auckland Pride is excited to showcase, celebrate and uplift its first resident Kiriana Kemp (Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Porou). “This is a chance to pioneer and present my very first work, complimented by highly skilled and diverse creatives, and to explore my reo and mātauranga all at once” says Kiriana.

Auckland Pride wants to deepen their relationships and partnerships in Tāmaki Makaurau’s arts sector - empowering a more authentic and abundant queer arts ecosystem that nurtures emerging talent and elevates excellence. They’re partnering with the Arts Foundation to raise $60,000, supported by generous match donors, to put money right into the hands of artists they believe embody the core values of Auckland Pride’s 2023 theme. Elevate describes artists who they feel are developing their practices in unique or exciting ways, and are radically contributing to their communities or disciplines.

Pride Elevates is more than a campaign. It’s a celebration of present and future queer and Takatāpui artists and their work, to acknowledge their place in society. With these nine supported projects, the landscape of Aotearoa's creative soul will be shaped for a prouder and more political tomorrow.

These nine projects include F.O.L.A., a brand new Festival of Live Art that celebrates the ambitious, experimental, unconventional and challenging art of Tāmaki Makaurau at Basement Theatre. Art Chemist, an interactive performance and visual arts installation by Ōtautahi-based performance artist and community activator Audrey Baldwin – just like your local pharmacy, you’ll be prescribed with creative means to tackle everyday woes and gripes. And JAFA Poetry’s first ever Pride Poetry Slam, where eight of the city’s best queer slam poets battle it out for bragging rights and a cash prize to the charity of their choice.

The queer arts experiences continues throughout Tāmaki Makaurau with music, theatre, parties, and drag including, international Canadian boundry pushing music sensation Peaches performing at The Powerstation, BABZ TOUR with Drag Race Down Under’s Spankie Jackzon, Hannah Conda, and Kween Kong, and Misbehaviour at Everybody’s Downtown, a late night club party experience.

Literary festival Samesame but Different returns with a full programme from 21 - 25 February with a host of discussions, poetry and more including the launch of Joanne Drayton’s latest book The Queen’s Wife, a poetry speakeasy and open mic, Tuākana/Teina panel conversation with Aroha Awaru, Renée, Gina Cole, Laura Vincent, and Josiah Morgan, and Show Ponies finally makes its Auckland debut, having been hailed by Motif Poetry as “a watershed moment for poetry in performance in Wellington”.

Basement Theatre also becomes a hub of queers arts, alongside F.O.L.A. is Cxnt Vol. 1 exploring the ever evolving relationship with divine feminist and CLUB CXNT from House of Givenchy, featuring activations and performances from Aotearoa ballroom houses, DJs and categories with cash prizes, and Concerning the UFO sighting outside Mt Roskill, Auckland, a devised work that explores the life and perspective of Dana, an office worker for an insurance company and spends most of his days answering phones.

Auckland Pride continues to partner with Q Theatre during Summer at Q for a selection of theatre and arts events, including The Crown parody She’s Crowning: Rebirth, South Asian playreading series be:longing by agaram productions, The Best Is Yet To Come - A Queer Magic Show, the story of Jeremy Rolston’s experiences growing up in the church, accompanied by mentalism and magic, and Jez & Jace: Lads on Tour, an improv comedy which provides social commentary on the friendship between the two rural bogan lads as they grapple with their queer identity.

Plus there’s even more that can’t be missed including LYCHEE BAYBEE from All My Friends Collective, one of the first (if not the first) concept parties celebrating Lunar New Year and LGBTQIA+ Pride platforming creatives, artists, and performers of Asian descent, Auckland Music Theatre’s Australasian premiere of Brothers at Westpoint Performing Arts Centre, ceramicist Sung Hwan Park’s BTM Live at Auckland Old Folks Association, and painter Katie Blundell’s exploration of self, Diary Pages, at Uxbridge Arts & Culture.

This year’s Auckland Pride programme offers up the queerest arts and community events Tāmaki Makaurau has to offer. With over 35 exciting events, there’s even more in the first programme release to check out now!

The Auckland Pride Festival 2023 runs from
Wednesday 1 – Sunday 26 February, 2023

The 2023 Auckland Pride Festival is delivered thanks to the generous support of Principal Partner OREO, Core Funder Foundation North, Major Partners Spark and Rocketwerkz, and Strategic Partner Auckland Council.

Auckland Pride Festival 2023 Key Dates:
1-26 Feb: Te Tīmatanga
18 Feb: Pride March
24 & 25 Feb: Pride in the Square