Festivals, festivals and more festivals
Aucklanders can look forward to a new festival, Tamaki Herenga Waka Festival on Anniversary Weekend at Queens Wharf and on the water, while the Auckland Arts Festival is now an annual event. These join some of the most vibrant and diverse events on the city's arts and cultural calendar: Pride, the Lantern Festival and Pasifika in February and March, then the likes of Matariki, Diwali and Tempo Dance later in the year.
It's going to be a busy year ...
Auckland makes history in February by becoming the first city in the world to build a full-scale, temporary working replica (pictured) of the second Globe Theatre where Shakespeare's plays were performed. He's been dead for 400 years but it seems as if the Bard is very much alive and well Downunder.
Speaking of theatres, Auckland Theatre Company's Waterfront Theatre opens at the end of the year.
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The Ockham NZ Book Awards shortlist is announced in March and, on May 10, on the opening night of the Auckland Writers Festival, the winners are named. We can't wait to see the shortlist, find out who the winners are and, of course, the festival.
The NZ Herald Premier Series
Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra performs rarely heard compositions, popular favourites, Latin rhythms and symphonic dances in this 12-concert series, which strikes up in February and promises a year's worth of eclectic and entertaining classics.
The Wizard of Oz, the ballet:
Royal NZ Ballet artistic director Francesco Ventriglia created a ballet version of this much-loved story in Florence in 2010 but it was never performed. It means the world premiere will take place in May right here in New Zealand, where audiences the length and breadth of the country can enjoy it.
Michael Parekowhai's waterfront sculpture, Queen's Wharf
The $1.5 million sculpture, named The Lighthouse and based on the design of a Mt Eden state house, features a glowing glass chandelier depicting a coloured glass garden of native flowers, birds and insects. It's expected to be unveiled around Matariki in June.
That Bloody Woman
A punk rock opera about our most famous suffragettes - what would Kate Sheppard think? We're not sure, but we know we're looking forward to partying like it's 1893 for Auckland Theatre Company's June musical. Pictured is Esther Stephens in the lead role. We're equally intrigued with ATC's take on Mark Haddon's kidult novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time in July.
The Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and New Zealand Opera join forces to bring Verdi's Otello to the stage with mighty tenor Simon O'Neill in the title role. When he played the role in London, critics described O'Neill, a New Zealander, as "thrilling" and "triumphant".
Speaking of NZ Opera, it's bringing to town in September the deliciously scary story of Sweeney Todd with local lad Teddy Tahu Rhodes in the lead role.
Artistic director Sophie Roberts is taking some big risks this year with a radical re-working of Medea with a cast led by kids and then, in September, she takes us into the world of currency trading, Dior suits, cocaine and girls behaving very badly in Boys Will Be Boys.