Not satisfied with just a huge ‘menu’ of events, productions, gigs and exhibitions, Auckland Arts Festival, in collaboration with a team of creative foodies, is transforming two well-known Auckland hot spots into innovative dining and socialising spaces this March.

edm food pic

Established chefs and marvellous mixologists will elevate ticket buyers’ experiences far beyond the famous ‘theatre and a show’ at the new Festival Playground at Silo Park and Auckland Live’s iHeartRadio Festival Club at the Aotea Centre.

Festival Playground
The Auckland Arts Festival’s (AAF) new hub is the Festival Playground at Silo Park. Designed by award-winning artist Angus Muir, the Festival Playground is the AAF’s brand new precinct for music, art, food and fun.

It was Artistic Director Jonathan Bielski’s idea to make this vibrant area of central Auckland the 2018 Festival’s beating heart.

“In its short life, Silo Park and Wynyard Quarter have become a favourite Auckland hangout, synonymous with great food, music, movies and family events. We believe it captures the celebratory spirit of the Festival, and Auckland’s general enthusiasm for summer and the outdoors, and we wanted to see the Festival come to life on the waterfront in a much bigger way. The Festival Playground will be unlike anything Auckland has experienced to date,” Bielski says.

The Festival Playground’s food and beverage offering has been led by Auckland tastemakers Fresh Concept and its chief curator Simon van Praag. The Super Taste Canteen, with a menu and concept by Joe Williams-Peters, champions a style of dining that is energetic and fun.

At the heart of the Super Taste experience is the nostalgia of a good Kiwi barbie, the ‘theatre’ of smoke and fire, and the art of cooking over hardwood and coals. Dishes are served in small and large format, catering for groups of all sizes.

A portion of the menu will be pre-marinated before being cooked quickly over charcoal, accompanied by rotisserie ready to be sliced and served. With an abundance of grilled vegetables and salads ready to go, it’s a quick, healthy and delicious option for all, including vegetarians, vegans and kids.

There are three bars in the Festival Playground: the Rogue Society Sundowner Bar, overlooking Auckland Harbour Bridge; a bar in the Super Taste Canteen; and a bar which operates in the Music Arena when concerts are taking place. The beverage offering includes a range of alcoholic options as well as coffee and non-alcoholic beverages.

The Festival Playground will be christened by hundreds of psychedelic funk evangelists at the spectacular Eru Dangerspiel concert on Thursday 8 March. 

iHeartRadio Festival Club
Auckland Live’s BOX Café and Bar at the Aotea Centre will get an exclusive makeover for Auckland Arts Festival, transforming into the iHeartRadio Festival Club – a pop-up dining and drinking experience in the heart of the Aotea Arts Quarter.

The iHeartRadio Festival Club has also been designed by Angus Muir, but this time in collaboration with Auckland Live, Kayla Jurlina and the team behind the conceptual dining experience ArtDego, Courteney Peters and Rebecca Smidt.

Audiences, artists, the creative community and passers-by will gather over delicious, tailor-made food. The bespoke, set menu – Theatre Dining by Culprit – has been designed by Kyle Street and Jordan MacDonald of Culprit Dining Room and Bar (also founding members of Depot/Federal Delicatessen and soon-to-open Lowbrow), and inspired by Muir’s kitsch 70’s fit-out.

Theatre Dining by Culprit is an express, 45-minute dining experience with a choice of two or four-course offerings.

The wider iHeartRadio Festival Club food offering includes an all-day menu, which is available throughout the Festival (open 7am weekdays and 11am weekends).

There’s also a hawker-paradise food alley managed by legendary bao-slingers Judge Bao, featuring a line-up of ArtDego’s favourite street food vendors.

The humming Red Bar will serve cocktails when there are shows on at the ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre. Celebrated mixologist Laura Lopez (Golden Dawn) has created a cocktail menu to complement both the eclectic vibe of the space and the inventive menu.

DJs and bands will round off the iHeartRadio Festival Club, maintaining the merriment long after the curtain goes down on stage, with house band Yeah Baby’s anchoring the music programme.

Of the experience, chefs Kyle Street and Jordan MacDonald say, “We’re amped to be working alongside Angus Muir to bring such a fun pop-up to Auckland for the Festival. For chefs, food is our art form and it’s exciting to get the opportunity to create dishes that are a bit wild and conceptual as well as delicious.”

The iHeartRadio Festival Club will be open from Thursday 1 March, heralding the opening night of Akram Khan’s Giselle by the spectacular English National Ballet.

Bookings for the Theatre Dining by Culprit menu are encouraged. Bookings can be made from Monday 26 February via Walk-ups are also welcome.