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Guide to the Cross Street Music Festival —Auckland's Most Electrifying Celebration of Local Music

Let me tell you about a celebration in which every note is a brushstroke against the canvas of an exciting urban nightlife, painting a picture of musical diversity and uniqueness. The famous Cross Street Music Festival will return to the neighborhood on 9 March 2024, from 16:00 to 24:00. The festival is an amazing gathering of local artists and their distinctive musical backbone, from smooth jazz grooves to bold contemporary pop beats, all set against the backdrop of Auckland's iconic city centre. The festival, founded by Anya Vitali, is held on Cross Street, a bustling alleyway off Auckland's famous Karangahape Road (K Road). It really is the perfect place for local talent to shine, and the festival promises an eclectic mix of genres and performances.


A Showcase of Local Talent

Central to the festival's identity is its unwavering commitment to showcasing New Zealand's artists —alongside great guests. From artists like the viral sensation Princess Chelsea to the emerging indie-pop duo Balu Brigada, the festival's lineup reflects the breadth and depth of the country's music scene. Acts like Te KuraHuia, with her fusion of Māori Pasifika heritage into her music, and Geoff Ong's catchy pop/rock tunes highlight the diverse sounds and stories that New Zealand artists bring to the stage. This focus on local talent not only supports the artists but also offers festival-goers a unique opportunity to explore the nation's rich musical landscape​


The Cross Street Music Festival is the best way to get to know the beating heart of Auckland's vibrant music scene. It is located just off the iconic Karangahape Road. Public transport is a good option, as there are several bus lines in the area. If you drive, plan on parking, as it can be difficult to find. Its proximity to Karangahape Road, with its history of artistic and cultural expression, provides the perfect backdrop for a festival that aims to bridge the gap between the community and the arts. And, food vendors offer a taste of the city's culinary scene. It's an immersive experience that captures city life with all the senses. It's an outdoor party that extends the clubbing experience to the common spaces of Cross Street, blending the energy of a block party with the rich musical heritage of Auckland's nightlife.


The organisers of this event are also conscious of its environmental impact and cultural responsibilities. They integrate Māori traditional knowledge into planning and involve local communities, like the iwi (the largest of the groups that make up Māori society), to ensure that the event respects and reflects the origins and identity of the area. While music is at the heart of the festival, Cross Street also celebrates other forms of artistic expression. Attendees will find installations, performances, and showcases that reflect Aotearoa's eclectic and diverse community.


A Cultural Phenomenon to the Rescue of the Musical Community


The Cross Street Music Festival was a response to a growing concern within the local music and arts community: the closure of small venues that had once been the lifeblood of Auckland's live music scene. Recognizing the need to create a new stage for emerging and established artists alike, the festival founders set their sights on Cross Street—a somewhat hidden location synonymous with creativity and diversity. The choice of venue was intentional, leveraging the historical significance and inherent eclectic nature of Karangahape Road to set the stage for a very unique festival.


As the Cross Street Music Festival continues to grow, it remains steadfast in its mission to showcase the best of New Zealand's music scene while fostering a sense of community and cultural appreciation. The festival's success lies not just in its ability to entertain but in its capacity to bring people together.


The Cross Street Music Festival is certainly one of the most significant events on the New Zealand music scene. In the heart of Auckland, you'd be completely deaf if you didn't hear the unique artistic vibe that permeates this bustling cityscape, and in that very local atmosphere lurks a festival that captures the spirit of New Zealand's diverse music scene. Since 2018, this festival has celebrated local talent and revived the essence of community gatherings in the face of dwindling small venue spaces.

This is not just a gathering; it’s an artistic convergence where music aficionados of all ages come together to share in the joy of live performance.
 

Cross Street Music Festival Guide

Here are some highlights of the event to entice those planning to attend the festival this year or in the future.


2024 Lineup Highlights



  • Each year, the festival features a diverse lineup of New Zealand artists. Look out for both established names and emerging talents.

  • Princess Chelsea: Known for her viral hit “The Cigarette Duet,” Princess Chelsea promises an unforgettable performance.

  • Balu Brigada: Keep an eye on these talented brothers—they’re making waves in the music world.

  • Geoff Ong: From trombone player to pop artist, Geoff Ong’s set will keep you dancing.

  • Te KuraHuia: Embrace Māori Pasifika culture with Te KuraHuia’s soulful tunes.


Date and Time:

  • The festival typically takes place in early March. Keep an eye out for announcements about the next editions by visiting their website.

Location and Getting There:

  • The festival is held on Cross Street, a lively laneway just off Karangahape Road (also known as K Road). It’s a central and easily accessible location in Auckland.

  • For those planning to drive to the Cross Street Music Festival in Auckland, parking options near Cross Street may be limited, you can explore nearby paid parking lots or on-street parking. Arrive early to secure a spot is a must.

  • Auckland’s public transport network is well-connected. Consider taking a bus or train to Karangahape Road (K Road) and then walking to Cross Street. Check the Auckland Transport website for routes and schedules.

  • If you’re staying in the vicinity, consider walking or cycling to the festival. It’s a great way to soak-in the local atmosphere and avoid parking hassles.

  • The Mercure, the VR Queen Street, the Kiwi International, and the Cordis would be my lodging recommendations. Hostels like HIT Hostel, Newton Lodge, and K-Road City Travelers are cheaper options. In any case, it is important to book in advance.

Tickets:

  • Purchase tickets in advance to secure your spot.


What to Bring:

  • Comfortable shoes for dancing.

  • Sunscreen and a hat (it’s an outdoor festival)... and maybe an umbrella

  • Your phone, for photos.


Food and Drinks and the General the Scene:

  • The festival will feature a variety of local food vendors and bars serving up delicious eats and Kiwi-made tipples.

  • While you’re there, explore the nearby Karangahape Road. It’s known for its eclectic shops, cafes, and street art. Indulge in some of Auckland's finest street food and local brews.

  • The festival will also have its own food stalls and beverage options. Stay hydrated and enjoy some tasty treats!



Respect the Community and their culture:

  • Be respectful of fellow festival-goers, artists, and the environment.

  • Dance, sing, and soak up the music—it’s a celebration of New Zealand’s talent!

  • Karangahape Road is a community with deep cultural roots. Respect the city, support local businesses, and be mindful of the festival's environmental policies.

  • Many visitors do not respect the locals or their buildings, and other Kiwis are certainly not the most troublesome visitors to Auckland. For a nation that is opening itself up to a more ethnically diverse population, please don't give them a reason to dislike other nations.


Post-Festival Fun:

  • The music might end at midnight, but the area's vibrant nightlife is just getting started.

  • If you're up for it, explore some of Karangahape Road's legendary bars and clubs to keep the party going. Here are my recommendations for Karangahape Road’s legendary bars and clubs with a few details:

  • Family Bar & Club:

  • Address: 270 Karangahape Road, Newton, Auckland 1010.

  • A lively LGBTQ+ bar and club, proudly New Zealand Gay Owned and Operated.

  • Known for its vibrant atmosphere, drag shows, and themed parties.

  • Whammy Bar:

  • Located in St Kevin’s Arcade.

  • A hotspot for alternative music, DJ sets, and energetic crowds.

  • Whether you’re into punk, rock, or electronic beats, Whammy Bar has something for everyone.

  • Cassette 9:

  • Address: Located off Vulcan Lane (Central Auckland).

  • A trendy bar known for hosting local bands and DJs.

  • Expect an interesting crowd, teapot cocktails, and fun decor.

  • Charlies Bar:

  • Address: 368 Karangahape Road, Auckland 1010.

  • A spot for bar, dining, beer, drinks, and gaming.

  • Open late, so you can dance your way into the early morning hours.


Remember, the Cross Street Music Festival is all about good vibes, great music, and connecting with the local music scene. Keep an eye out for updates, and I hope you have an amazing time at the next festival! The Cross Street Music Festival is a cultural convergence that celebrates the heartbeat of New Zealand's music scene. It is a chance to immerse yourself in the diverse voices and stories that make up the nation's musical diversity. Prepare to join a gathering that transcends the boundaries of a traditional music festival, offering a much more local and community-oriented experience that resonates with the rhythm of New Zealand life itself.


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