Your guide to what to do for the weekend of December 9-10 in Auckland, and what to plan ahead for.
1. See the Franklin Rd lights
The residents of Ponsonby’s Franklin Rd have once again taken their commitment to Christmas lights very seriously this year and it’s looking quite dazzling. You can travel up and down by car but we think you’ll get more out of it on foot and, of course, it’s a little bit more magical if you go after dark. It’s a wonderfully cheap family Christmas activity — it’s free in fact. Just remember, these are people’s homes so be a good human and respect their property, privacy and desire to turn the lights off at 11pm.
Nightly until December 25, 7.30pm-11pm. Franklin Rd, Ponsonby, Auckland. FREE.
2. Experience art on a domed ceiling
For the art enthusiasts among you, the Stardome planetarium is being repurposed as a giant site-specific video art space this month with screenings of XYZZY by contemporary artist Jess Johnson and director Simon Ward. The immersive art experience has been designed specifically for planetariums and uses Johnson’s artworks as the basis for an animation featuring flesh mandalas, self-replicating architecture, undulating worms, hallucinogenic patterns, and messianic alien deities. With an accompanying electronic music soundscape, the experience is what some might call trippy. XYZZY has already had successful seasons in Melbourne and Dunedin and if you head along next Sunday, you can catch a Q&A with the artist afterwards.
December 10, 7pm and December 17, 6.30pm and 8.30pm (followed by Q&A). Stardome Planetarium and Observatory, Maungakiekie (One Tree Hill), Tāmaki Makaurau. Tickets $18.50 - $20 from stardome.org.nz
3. Attend an eyepopping bubble show on Waiheke
Gather your little bubble lovers for a trip across the harbour this weekend to see The Highland Joker AKA Mr Bubbles put on his mesmerising performance, The Bubble Show, at Artworks Theatre on Waiheke. Anyone can blow bubbles with a little dish soap and glycerine but not many can do them like this Guinness World Record holder. He creates bouncy bubbles, bubbles inside bubbles, smoke bubbles, square bubbles, giant bubbles and fire bubbles all within a show that incorporates storytelling, magic and science. After Waiheke, he’ll be in Tauranga on Sunday, then on to Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington and Nelson. It’s guaranteed to have some jaws on the floor and not just the kids’.
December 9, 11am and 2pm. Artworks Theatre, Waiheke Island. Tickets $20 children, $25 adult from iticket.co.nz
4. Hear about the journey of motherhood
This weekend, catch some real talk about motherhood with a side of punk rock at Lopdell House where actor and singer Sally Stockwell performs her one-woman rock n roll theatre show, We’ve Got So Much to Talk About. Set in a dream world, backstage on a music tour, Stockwell lays bare the motherhood dilemma, often through song. Her voice has been described as having the strength of Siouxsie Sioux and the otherworldliness of Grimes. The show itself is an act of rebellion, proving women can make the school lunches and be creative powerhouses all within the same day.
December 8, 8pm; December 9, 2pm & 8pm; December 10, 4pm. Lopdell Theatre, 420 Titirangi Rd, Titirangi. Tickets start at $27.50 + booking fees from iticket.co.nz
5. Witness some gasp-worth wildlife
The world’s very best Wildlife Photography has just arrived at Auckland Museum, on loan from the Natural History Museum in London, and as you’d expect the pictures are spectacular. The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition opens on Saturday and features rare images of the natural world that most of us will never get to witness in person, unless we’re willing to lie in some shrubs in the wilderness for hours, days, sometimes weeks on end, waiting for the magic moment. What these wildlife photographers must have endured in pursuit of that one perfect frame makes the mind boggle. If not this weekend, make a plan to see these awe-inspiring photographs at some point over the summer.
December 9 - April 28. Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland Museum, Auckland Domain, Parnell, Auckland. Adults $9, concession $8, children (0-15) and Museum members free.
6. Take the family to Christmas In The Park
Mother Nature had better play ball for Tāmaki Makaurau’s big night on Saturday, Christmas in the Park, because we’ve had our fill of rain cancellations and we’re ready for some good ol’ fashioned outdoor entertainment. This year’s concert features Vince Harder, Lavina Williams, Tom Batchelor, Kaylee Bell, Verity Howells, The Pacific Network Gospel Choir and many many more. They’ll be singing all your favourite Yuletide bops as well as a selection of crowd-pleasing hits. Pack your picnic blankets and feasts but leave the booze at home because it’s an alcohol-free event. There’ll be loads of food trucks on-site as well. Take public transport if you can, parking here is worse than Westfield on Christmas Eve.
December 9, 7.30pm. Auckland Domain, Parnell, Auckland. FREE.
7. See High School Musical before it finishes
This is your last-minute reminder that Troy and Gabriella are falling in love this weekend at the National Youth Theatre’s production of the Disney classic High School Musical. Over 200 kids aged 7-21 are taking the stage at Aotea Centre to live out their musical theatre dreams and remind us that “We’re All In This Together.” It’s an uplifting show with some poptastic songs, and watching these enthusiastic young performers is bound to warm the cockles of your heart.
December 9, 1.30pm and 7pm; December 10, 11.30am and 4pm. Kiri Te Kanawa Theatre, Aotea Centre, Auckland CBD. Tickets start at $29.95 + booking fees from ticketmaster.co.nz
8. Book tickets for Hauser’s New Zealand show
If a musical family member has you stumped for a Christmas gift, might we suggest tickets to classical crossover artist Hauser. The Croatian cellist extraordinaire and founding member of 2Cellos is coming to Aotearoa next April on his very first worldwide solo tour and it’s a hot ticket. Rebel with a Cello is a wide-ranging show featuring everything from classical to pop to rock to dance music and if there’s one thing Hauser is not, it’s a man hiding behind a large instrument. He’s a showman and you can be certain that Rebel with the Cello will be a stunning visual as well as aural experience.
April 17. Spark Arena, 42/80 Mahuhu Cres, Parnell, Auckland. Tickets start at $109 + booking fees from ticketmaster.co.nz
9. Plan ahead for alt-country artist Matt Joe Gow’s Kiwi tour
Dunedin-raised, Melbourne-based alt country artist Matt Joe Gow is back on home soil this week playing a series of shows with fellow Kiwi, folk musician Kerryn Fields. The pair charmed local audiences when they toured the country together earlier this year, and since then Gow has been awarded the Music Victoria Award for Best Country Album as well as the MLT New Zealand Country Music Award for songwriting. You can catch them Saturday night in Paekakariki and next weekend at the Wine Cellar in Tāmaki Makaurau.