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One week to go...the count down is on.....

One week to go...the count down is on.....

AK05 kicks off next Saturday, 26 February, with a sizzling extravaganza of sneak festival previews, fireworks, free entertainment and music from the specially built festival stage that will be constructed in Aotea Square next week.

Gala opening festival teasers include Australian Stalker Theatre’s show Red, a snapshot of Michael Hurst’s latest theatre creation, Jack and the Beanstalk, two exceptional contemporary dance works including Australia’s hottest dance company Bangarra Dance Theatre and a glimpse of New Zealand dance veteran Michael Parmenter retrospective festival show Commotion; Canadian touring show Les 7 Doigts de la Main also present a stunning physical circus piece on stage.

These fabulous previews are accompanied by well known local performers such as King Kapisi, (set to release a new album this year), Jackie Clarke and Neil Holt, plus a mix of vibrant multi-cultural groups. The evening ends with a dazzling fireworks finale.

This is one of Auckland's biggest free family events, so don't miss it, 8:30pm and 10:00pm, Aotea Square, The Edge.

The opening gala is just the beginning of AK05 which offers 17 continuous days of festive activity with more than 60 events filling parks, theatres, galleries, cinemas, clubs and beaches.

Fourteen international acts are supported by 50 local gigs.

The Festival line-up includes major theatre and dance works, led by Australian dance company Bangarra Dance Theatre who bring Bush to the stage after a sell-out season at the Adelaide Festival. New Zealand’s most revered dancer Michael Parmenter is joined by 18 of the country’s most admired dancers, many who have returned to New Zealand especially for Parmenter’s two hour retrospective show Commotion.

Hot on the heels of rave reviews from this month’s Sydney Festival is Three Furies, Stephen Sewell’s provocative portrayal of painter Francis Bacon’s life. “Exciting, absorbing and brilliantly performed…it is audacious, angry, desperate, brutal, loving and mad...” Sydney Morning Herald.

Rap recording guru Russell Simmons, who has taken America by storm with his Broadway hit Def Poetry Jam, brings eight poets to Auckland who will mesmerise crowds with their social outpours, rapping about everything from love and sex to McDonalds and George W. Bush. And don’t miss Steven Berkoff’s rendition of Shakespeare’s Villains.

New Zealand plays Strata, Vula, and Clockwork Orange are some of the local theatre stunners.

Music lovers have a score of talent to choose from, including Japan’s Tao Drummers who debuted at last year’s Edinburgh Festival to sell out crowds and rave reviews. The New Zealand Opera and New Zealand Symphony Orchestra present a concert performance of John Adams’ controversial opera The Death of Klinghoffer, American bass Kevin Maynor recites speeches from freedom fighters Malcolm X, Gandhi and Paul Robeson and leader of world music, Zakir Hussain plays for one night only. And for the young and young at heart, Bugs Bunny On Broadway takes over the Great Hall with a spectacular fusion of classic Warner Bros. Studios cartoons projected onto the big screen.

Cabaret Decadanse brings a true festival feel to AK05 with its cabaret style puppet show for adults. Also a hit at last year’s Edinburgh Festival this is one act not to miss! Book a table for six and get into the spirit of it. Full bar available!

With internationally renowned Stalker Theatre Company performing six free events around the city there’s no shortage of free events and each Festival weekend showcases musicians such as Nesian Mystic, Golden Horse, Baitercell, Joel Haines, Feelstyle and King Kapisi at the Aotea Square.

So come along next Saturday and start booking your ticvkets before shows sell out and summer is over!

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