Mark your diaries and make sure you join in the colourful festivities taking place at Aotea Square and Queen St. on Saturday and Sunday 12 and 13 October for Auckland Diwali Festival. We asked this year’s Event Producer, Leilana Meredith are few questions on what happens behind the scenes and what she’s excited about for the 2019 festival.

IWK: What does your role entail as Event Producer for the Auckland Diwali Festival?

Leilana: I’m very fortunate to produce New Zealand’s largest vegetarian festival. For 2019 my role is focusing on leading a talented festival team and ensuring we deliver a successful, relevant and exciting Indian culture festival for Aucklanders and visitors. Our vision is to be Australasia’s premier Indian festival.

IWK: What is new and exciting at this year’s festival?

Leilana: It’s an incredible list this year! A Diwali-themed school programme is kicking off the festival this year, with 20 Auckland Council venues hosting a fun and free selection of activities. There’ll be energetic dance performances, from Bollywood to Gujarati, Punjabi to Bharat Natyam, Rajasthani to Hindustani and more.

A wide range of more than 100 different Indian dance and music performances, from contemporary, traditional, classical or folk, featured on the Aotea and Queen Street and Street Zone stages, or as part of the pop-up street performances.? We’ve got around 60 street stalls, offering a?myriad of fresh flavours, exotic spices and aromas, handmade crafts and jewellery, from all corners of India.

Our team has been working with a local lighting designer, Angus Muir to create the festival’s new ‘Canopy of Colour’ light installation, inspired by the centuries-old traditional Indian art form of Rangoli. Plus Aotea Centre will host a photography exhibition ‘Mokaa: the Land of Opportunity’ showcasing 125 years of Indians in Aotearoa.

IWK: What is your favourite moment about the festival?

Leilana: ALL of it! I do really love the fireworks finale though.

IWK: What is your favourite dish to try at Diwali?

Leilana: Chole Bhature and Masala Dosa

IWK: What are your top tips for having a great day at the festival?

Leilana: Make sure you plan your trip in advance – take public transport, walk or cycle to the festival. It’s great to arrive early, grab a bite to eat from a few stalls then wander to each of the three stages. Families should take their kids along to the family fun zone for rangoli workshops, amusement rides and activities from the Auckland Museum and Auckland Libraries.