Event Manager Shaughan Woodcock spills the tea on this year’s Rainbow Parade, taking over Ponsonby Road on Saturday 17 February 2024.
How many community groups are involved in this year’s parade?
Currently, we have 45 registered groups and around 2,500 participants taking part in this year’s amazing Rainbow Parade. It’s great to see support for the rainbow parade grow year after year, and it’s heartening to also welcome first-time rainbow groups into the parade. For the first time, we have a trans women’s cultural dance group for Cook Island’s women and a trans women’s group supporting Kaupapa Māori.
What the Board and I are delighted about is that this event provides space where someone who isn’t out – who isn’t comfortable or confident in how they identify – can come along and, for those hours, feel good about themselves and feel like they aren’t alone.
Registrations don’t close until Friday 2 February so there’s still loads of time for more registrations to join in.
Are there any surprises in the parade that you can give us a few hints about?
There are always some surprises during the parade – that’s part of the excitement – but what I can confirm is that this year will camp, Camp, CAMP, and I’m not just talking Miss Ribena and Miss Kola Gin! We’ve pulled drag queens out of retirement. There’ll be plenty of feathers, dancing, and shuttlecocks! There is more, but you’ll need to come along, as my lips are sealed!
Tell us about the Rainbow Parade Grandstand.
This year, we’re delighted to announce that the Rainbow Parade Grandstand is proudly supported by Smirnoff, so we’ve secured two grandstands, the same as we had in 2017 and 2018. Great views and live entertainment from 5.30pm until the parade concludes.
We’ll have a small bar operating from 5.30pm – 8pm, and tickets to the grandstand are $35 per person and can be purchased by visiting rainbowparade.nz
Do you think you’ve now perfected the parade start time?
When we first brought the parade back to Ponsonby Road in 2020, we delivered a walking parade as the timeframes were tight and financial investment was tough. Over the past couple of years, thanks to our amazing supporters, rainbow community groups, and corporate diversity groups, we were able to bring back the motorised version of the parade and return to the 7:30pm start time. This time provides a good balance between those who have lights and those who don’t, groups who have young kids and don’t want to be late finishing and, of course, providing the critical infrastructure to allow such an amazing event to take place.
Tell us about the pre and post-parade entertainment.
Pre-parade entertainment will be a mixture of face painting, street activations, and live entertainment. The Longroom will be hosting their ever-popular pre-parade function (think YMCA and The Love Boat) as well as numerous other great Ponsonby venues to get you in the party mood. After the parade, the Ponsonby venues will still be open, as well as Family Bar, G.A.Y, Bamboo Tiger, and Eagle on K Road.
Do you feel the whole rainbow will be well represented at the parade?
I believe this will be the most diverse parade in Auckland since 2018, and I’m extremely proud of that. The parade means so much to those who participate, financially support it, and turn up to watch. In 2012, when an external company canvassed the audience, 51% of those watching identified as allies, and 49% identified as LGBTQ+.
Do you foresee a future where the parade is officially part of the Auckland Pride festival?
The Rainbow Parade, since returning in 2020, has formed and developed its own strong identity, which the Rainbow Pride Auckland Board should be proud of, just like the Burnett Foundation Aotearoa has Big Gay Out, and Auckland Pride has the festival. All three combined create amazing events and opportunities for and within our communities. I call it power in numbers, and while we may have our differences, that’s also what makes us stronger. Whether the parade becomes part of the Auckland Pride Festival is up to their membership, but I believe the community has moved on from this and openly supports the events that embrace their values.