Your guide to what to do for the weekend of December 2-3 in Auckland, and what to plan ahead for.
1. COSY CHRISTMAS MARKET
Freida Margolis’ monthly market is always a joyous stop for a Saturday morning but the December event is upping the ante with the addition of Christmas cheer. The wee wine bar will be transformed into a festive haven full of vintage and handcrafted goodies that make excellent and unique gifts for loved ones (or yourself). You’ll find vintage clothes, pre-loved treasures, NZ designers, handcrafted jewellery, seasonal fresh flowers and plants, along with freshly baked goods, fresh fish fritters and taco toasties. The community and Christmas spirit are alive and well at Freida’s.
December 2, 10am-1pm. Freida Margolis, 440 Richmond Rd, Grey Lynn, Auckland. Free entry.
2. SHOW-HO-HO, MERRY CHRISTMAS
There’s no Christmas production more enduring than Tim Bray Theatre Company’s The Santa Claus Show, which is back for its 19th season this year. The opening gala event is on Saturday and from there, there will be two shows a day — barring Sundays — until December 22. The show is best suited to younger children, roughly 3-8-year-olds, and tells a wonderfully imaginative and a slightly silly tale about Kelly and Alana who go on a wild adventure to the North Pole. Shows are selling out fast — particularly for the week before Christmas — so book now for 60 minutes of festive fun for the little ones.
December 2-22. The Pumphouse Theatre, Killarney Park (off Manurere Ave), Takapuna. Tickets start at $28 + booking fees from pumphouse.co.nz Audio described, NZSL and sensory relaxed shows available.
3. KIDS COOKIE DECORATING
Decorating Christmas cookies, much like building gingerbread houses, always sounds like a lovely idea until you’re scraping icing off the ceiling and googling “how to get red food colouring out of laminate kitchen benchtops”. This Christmas, why not send those adorable agents of chaos to Bread & Butter where they can attend cookie decorating classes on their own, leaving your home kitchen blissfully untouched. Children aged 8 and over can sign up to attend a one-hour class with Bread & Butter baker Isabel Pasch in which they’ll decorate nine Christmas-themed shortbread cookies and learn techniques like flooding, patterns, using lollies and sprinkles effectively, and how to fold mini piping bags from baking paper. They’ll get to take their cookies home so if you play your cards right, you might be one of the lucky recipients.
December 2 and 16, 12.30pm and 2pm. Bread & Butter Bakery and Cafe, 3/34 Westmoreland St West, Grey Lynn, Auckland. $60 per child. Limited spaces so booking essential at breadandbutter.nz
4. THE POST BOX IN THE CLOUDS
If you’ve got some Christmas lists in your possession that still haven’t been posted then the most magical postbox you’re going to find is the one at the top of the Sky Tower. Take the trip up the tower where you can write and post your letters to the North Pole or, if you’re there on the weekends, give the list directly to the big man himself who has parked his sleigh in the foyer and is available for free photos. While you’re there, make sure you hang about for one of Scotty’s Christmas Spectacular Shows, featuring dancing gingerbread, Christmas tunes and festive performances by local dance schools. Plus, from December 13 until Christmas Day, the Sky Tower will be lighting up like a giant Christmas tree from sundown.
Saturdays and Sundays until December 24: Santa photos 12-2pm, 2.30-4.30pm and 5-7pm, Scotty’s Christmas Spectacular Shows 1pm, 2pm, 5pm, 6pm and 7pm.
Daily until December 25, from 9.30am: New Zealand’s Highest Post Box. Sky Tower, Federal St, Auckland CBD. General Sky Tower admission applies. Santa photos and Scotty’s Christmas Spectacular free.
5. CHRISTMAS IN THE CITY
Shopping isn’t the only reason to head into the city this festive season — though avoiding mall carpark madness is pretty compelling — there’s a whole heap of Christmas cheer in the CBD courtesy of Auckland Council. You can post your letters to the big man at Santa’s Mail Machine down at 7 Queen St; get some content for the socials at The Pav’s giant light forest and giant baubles; catch one of the live performances on Queen St each Saturday; watch dancing tinsel people, elves on stilts and crazy, colourful street performances at Te Komititanga; and spot all the decorations - doves, globes, neon Christmas trees, festive chandeliers - decorating laneways and beyond. Of course, you have to stop by the institution that is Smith & Caughey’s to see what magic they’ve got in their window this year and put December 16 in your diary for the Midtown Christmas Market.
Now until December 24. Various locations in Auckland CBD. Visit heartofthecity.co.nz/christmas for an interactive map of activities and events.
6. YE OLDE YULETIDE
Give your Apple Watch and Nintendo Switch requesting kids a dose of Christmases past reality at Howick Historical Village on Saturday. It’s Twilight Christmas at the Village and the good people of the little historic town centre will be showing you what Victorian Christmas good times were all about. The cottages will be decorated with trees and stockings hung by the fire; carolers will be singing and good ol’ Saint Nicholas will even be there for photos in the grand homestead Puhi Nui. There’s a wee mini market selling handmade goods and treats, along with food stalls and decoration workshops for young and old to get their Christmas craft on.
December 2, 5pm-9.30pm. Howick Historical Village, 91 Bells Rd, Pakuranga Heights, Auckland. Tickets adult $18, child $10, under-5s free, from eventfinda.co.nz
7. A VERY TASTY CHRISTMAS MARKET
The Christmas market for foodies and anyone needing a stiff drink to get them through the silly season has to be A Very Tasty Christmas Market at The Cloud this weekend. This inaugural event is inspired by large-scale Christmas markets in Europe. You can do light prezzy shopping while enjoying live music, top-notch eats from artisan food producers, family-friendly activities like face painting, axe throwing, a story corner and bouncy castle, and some festive beverages at the garden bar run by Chef Luis Cabrera or at the Malfy Gin Bar led by mixologist James Millar. There are more than 70 pop-up bars, eateries, gift stalls and entertainers at the market so you’re guaranteed to find something you like, even if it’s just a Christmas cocktail.
December 2 and 3, 10am-6pm. The Cloud, Queens Wharf, Auckland CBD. Entry $5 on the door.
8. I LOVE PONSONBY
It’s a Christmas marketpalooza this weekend with the Ponsonby Market Day joining the plethora of festive fairs on offer. With the help of the General Collective, Ponsonby Rd will become a street-long market. Beyond the independent market stalls, the local businesses will be welcoming shoppers in and bands and DJs will be providing live music for your shopping and aural pleasure. If you’re lucky, you might even spot Santa and some Christmas fairies getting amongst the festive vibes.
December 2, 11am-5pm. Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby, Auckland. Free.
9. PLAN AHEAD: CHRISTMAS PHILHARMONIA
The APO are serving up an orchestral Christmas for young and old this month. For the littlest music appreciators, they’ve got APO 4 Kids Christmas on December 9 at the Town Hall and December 17 at the Bruce Mason Centre. It’s a joyful hour of Christmas music, singing and activities. And, for the bigger music appreciators, there’s Celebrate Christmas at the Holy Trinity Cathedral — a more fitting venue for Yuletide crooning and orchestral swelling we can’t imagine. The APO will be joined by The Graduate Choir New Zealand and will perform Rimsky-Korsakov’s Christmas Eve Suite, Handel’s Messiah and some classic Christmas carols.
APO 4 KIDS CHRISTMAS: December 9, 10am and 11.30am. Auckland Town Hall, Queen St, Auckland. December 17, 10am and 11.30am. Bruce Mason Centre, Takapuna, Auckland. Tickets $15 from apo.co.nz
STANLEY ST PRESENTS CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS: December 15, 7.30pm and December 16, 3pm. Holy Trinity Cathedral, Parnell, Auckland. Tickets start at $35 from apo.co.nz
10. PLAN AHEAD: CHRISTMAS IN THE SQUARE
The big tree’s already up but the festivities in Aotea Square don’t kick off fully until December 9. Love a little free live entertainment? Then Auckland Live’s Christmas in Aotea Square has got to be on your to-do list. There’ll be a wide range of performances from vintage tunes with The Madeleines, Maamaloa Brass Band, carols with the GALS — Rainbow Choir and Christmas classics with National Youth Theatre. And, if seeing all these wonderful singers awakens your latent passion for performing, then don’t miss the Christmas Karaoke event on December 16. On the opening evening, bring a picnic and settle in for a screening of Home Alone in the big outdoor cinema.
December 9-21. Aotea Square, Queen St, Auckland CBD. Visit aucklandlive.co.nz for the full schedule of events. Free.
11. PLAN AHEAD: CLASSICAL CHRISTMAS
If mall Christmas bops aren’t your idea of classic Christmas music then Bach Musica NZ might be more your style. On December 10, Aotearoa’s leading chamber choir and orchestra will be performing Bach’s Christmas Oratorio Parts 1-3 at the Auckland Town Hall. The choir will feature four soloists: Joanna Foote (soprano), Stephen Diaz (Countertenor), Iain Tetley (Tenor), and James Harrison (Bass). It’s bound to be a delightfully festive evening for classical and choral music fans.
December 10, 5pm. Great Hall, Auckland Town Hall, Queen St, Auckland CBD. Tickets start at $20 for students from ticketmaster.co.nz
12. PLAN AHEAD: MOTAT CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: MOTAT Christmas Lights might be Tāmaki Makaurau’s most magical pre-Christmas activity. The first of the 12 late-night events is next Wednesday. You’ll find the iconic museum twinkling with lights, live music, carolers, food trucks, outdoor games, tram rides, Santa and more. A little late night in the lead-up to Christmas never hurt anyone and this is an event that’s worth pushing bedtime back for just this once.
December 6-9, 13-16 and 20-23, 8pm-11pm. MOTAT, Great North Rd, Western Springs, Auckland. Tickets $5 adults; $2 children (5-15); under-5s free from motat.nz