Drummers from Taiwan's U Theatre set Aotea Square booming with their pounding when they launched the Auckland Arts Festival's White Night programme at the weekend.

When the 20-minute sonic set began, people flocked from Queen St to the Festival Garden to see the drummers, all trained in martial arts, deliver a taste of their work, Sound of the Ocean, which opens tonight at the Aotea Centre.

White Night, a first for the Auckland Arts Festival and inspired by the Nuit Blanche festival in Paris, was a citywide affair, with galleries, Auckland Museum and Motat open until midnight.

The festival heads into its final stages this week with shows by Australian singer Paul Kelly, Rapt, a new work by dance legend Douglas Wright, two rarely staged plays written by Samuel Beckett, and Gaff Aff by Swiss comedians Martin Zimmermann and Dimitri de Perrot.

The festival ends on Sunday.