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Festivals in Auckland, New Zealand: Heineken Open, Cup Week, International Comedy, Pasifika, Ao Taeroa

Auckland, the biggest city in New Zealand and the biggest Polynesian city in the world, is home to many festivals and events throughout the year. These include the Heineken Open Tennis Championship, the Auckland Cup horse race, the New Zealand International Comedy Festival, the Polynesian and Pacific Islander’s Pasifika Festival and the Ao Taeroa Hip-Hop Summit.

Festivals in Auckland, New Zealand – Heineken Open Tennis Championship

Taking place at the courts complex in Stanley Street, the Heineken Open Tennis Championship is seen as the start of the tennis season by New Zealanders. By the players, it is usually seen as a good warm-up for the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia, which takes place later in the month of January.

Festivals in Auckland, New Zealand – Auckland Cup Week

New Zealand’s biggest horse race is more about having an excuse to drink, bring out the amateur punter and have a party than the runners and riders. Whilst not quite as big as Australia’s Melbourne Cup, the UK’s Grand National or America’s Kentucky Derby, the spirit is still there as Aucklanders compare tips, attempt to analyse the form, place bets and gamble over a drink or seven. They’re off at the Ellerslie race course in March.

Festivals in Auckland, New Zealand – New Zealand International Comedy Festival

Now a major player on the international comedy circuit, the New Zealand International Comedy Festival is spread across the country, although largely focused on Auckland. Whilst naturally attracting the best local funnymen and women, the New Zealand International Comedy Festival also pulls in top acts from abroad. The event held in May, for example, starred Ed Byrne, Dylan Moran and Ardal O’Hanlon from Ireland, Carl Barron and Puppetry of the Penis from Australia and Stephen K Amos from England.

Festivals in Auckland, New Zealand – Pasifika Festival

Auckland is the world’s biggest Polynesian city, and the culture of the Pacific Islands is celebrated during the Pasifika Festival in March. Held in Western Springs Park, Auckland, this is one big Polynesian party, with lots of traditional dancing, islander food and musical performances on instruments from across the Pacific Ocean.

Festivals in Auckland, New Zealand – Ao Taeroa Hip-Hop Summit

Those from outside NZ can be forgiven for not being aware of the New Zealand’s thriving hip-hop scene. The musical genre is particularly popular amongst the Polynesian and Maori communities, and October sees hip-hop fans get together in Aotea Square and Auckland Town Hall for performances and workshops. The Ao Taeroa Hip-Hop Summit is crammed with DJs and MCs, all spitting out their New Zealand hip-hop best tunes.

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