Crowds flocking to Auckland's parks to listen to music is nothing new — it's just bigger and better.

As this 1913 photo of people in Edwardian finery at the open-air band rotunda in the Domain shows, Auckland has hosted outdoor entertainment for at least a century.

But it hasn't been on the scale of this year's programmes, with dozens of free film screenings and concerts all over the city from mid-January.

The annual extravaganza starts at that same historic rotunda on January 12, with the first of 26 free live music events showcasing items from world music to Kiwi anthems.

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Music in Parks and Movies in Parks are both run by Auckland Council, and this year are supported by Herald publisher NZME.

NZME radio networks are supporting Music in Parks with events like Flava Urban Beats and The Hits Kiwi Anthems.

The music series is overseen by Gavin Downie, who's worked on tour production for a host of household names across New Zealand and around the world.

"I feel excited we can bring these spaces alive with the sounds of opera, rock, indie anthems and te Reo artists," said Downie.

"In my experience music and rhythms are something people are drawn to. From an early age, we love the groovy beat of a drum kit or a funky bassline or a voice so Music in Parks really is for the whole family. You never know where your children might get the spark to go on to be the next Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Tiki Tane or Lorde.

I think it's good to surround children with music," Downie said.

Movies in Parks starts on January 24 and will screen 20 hit movies at 26 events. The films include recent blockbusters like MIB International, Crazy Rich Asians, Aladdin and Yesterday, plus evergreen classics like Grease and E.T.

Seventeen films will be subtitled for the deaf, food trucks will be on site and the council will run a zero-waste system at all events.

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NZME chief marketing officer Katie Mills said the company was proud to team up with the council.

"This is another great Auckland initiative that we're pleased to support," she said. "Connecting with our communities is at the heart of what we do."

No bookings or tickets are required for any event. The Movies in Parks line-up is at www.moviesinparks.co.nz.

Check out the full music line-up at www.musicinparks.co.nz; read about the full line-up and our top picks in today's TimeOut magazine.