Newcomer Auckland City Limits (ACL) has neatly occupied the gaping hole in the Auckland festival circuit left by iconic Big Day Out. The old BDO organisers linked up with American festival darling, Austin City Limits, melding 20+ years of experience with the famed Texas event. ACL offers an all-ages environment to get down to a range of music genres – from rock, indie, blues and even jazz. The tuned-in Auckland City Limits team managed to translate Auckland’s passion for music into an event that drew a 25,000-strong crowd in its inaugural year.
Taking ACL to Western Springs Park was a smart decision; this grassy locale gives a harmony that no other Auckland venue can offer. The hilly area around the main stage provides a chance to get up-close and personal with the talent or choose to hang back on the hill with your buddies. The relaxed venue vibes are complemented by attention-grabbing art displays, cool carnival rides, and intermittent comedy.
ALL THE LIMITS
Selecting a festival to run in March affords the best shot at getting a sunny day to enjoy the lush park setting (though it is Auckland and four seasons in one day are likely, so pack accordingly - sun screen, hat, water, something warm to wear). The event runs from 11am to 11pm and the 40+ artists are spread across four stages. Kendrick Lamar and the Nationals were headliners in year one and organisers are committed to bringing this calibre of acts year-on-year. A dedicated app helps you map your day out but leave room for new artists and marketplace exploration.
Tickets go on sale in October with standard tickets and a VIP option that gets you into an exclusive bar, toilets, and a cosy lake setting. You need both your ticket and wristband to enter ACL and, to save waiting in line on the day (and there will be lines), it’s recommended to head to the box office from the Wednesday to get your wristband. The festival offers in-and-out access to a maximum of three times, awesome if you’re staying close by for a quick outfit change.
A far cry from the usual festive grub, food at Auckland City Limits is to be celebrated with contemporary feasts from some of Auckland’s best eateries. Think pork tacos, poutine and Moustache’s addictive Snickers cookie. Vegans are catered for too. While bar lines can be long at the peak of the day, the prices are reasonable compared to many events. The festival is cashless, using the AWOP wristband system with numerous top-up stations across the site.
It’s on trend to open up music festivals to all ages; it not only broadens the audience appeal but also adds a balance to both vibes and how hard the crowd is going to be partying. Children under 10 go free, and the dedicated Auckland Kiddle Limits zone has fun activities and entertainment from 11am to 5pm.
Due to the residential location, there is little parking at Western Springs so leave your wheels at home. As public transport is free with your ticket, it makes sense to take advantage of the extra buses laid on for the event. Uber and taxis are also an option, though pre-booking is advised unless you love fighting with a West Auckland rocker for your ride home. If you’ve some stamina and a bike lock, there is a free dedicated bike park by the main entrance.
There are no limits when it comes to road tripping to Auckland City Limits; it’s an easy drive without too many traffic woes as it’s not over a holiday period. Be sure to add the Auckland City Limits Spotify playlist before setting off to get you amped for the upcoming entertainment.