It's Labour Weekend, the unofficial start of summer, and while weather predictions are a mixed bag, Whangārei and surrounding areas have an exciting line-up of entertainment indoors and out.
For those after unique al fresco dining while soaking up the atmosphere in the heart of the city, the monthly Canopy Night Market starts tonight from 5pm to 8.30pm bringing a vibrant street food event with a focus on multicultural cuisine, prepared and cooked fresh on-site.
Described as a one-stop culinary shop that brings together the best food on offer from across the region, grab a picnic blanket and step out to the Town Basin for a smoke-free family-friendly event with live music.
In the morning, return to the same area and you'll find the Artisans Market from 9am to 1.30pm boasting a colourful range of local artisan products, fine art, handcrafts and gourmet food items.
Another popular market to return for the summer is the monthly Tutukaka Twilight Market at Tutukaka Marina on Saturday from 5pm to 8pm.
Organiser Jo Roberts says she is preparing for the biggest market yet.
"We're in its third year and last year we got to capacity. We're expecting this one to be bigger than December."
She said the market, set on the Tutukaka Green with the marina backdrop, was well-received by patrons with its music and vibe, as well as supporting local businesses.
The market features a wide range of different food, including Indonesian, Hungarian, Mexican, as well as "good old kiwi favourites", such as mussel fritters, seafood chowder, and hangi. There is also a vegan range.
Along with the live music, there are kids' games and a large variety of stalls including clothing, jewellery, crystals, candles, balms and art. There is also on-site massage and a range of charity stalls.
Keeping the event as sustainable as possible, organisers are encouraging people to bring their own picnic sets, in line with the long-term goal of zero rubbish.
Over in Mangawhai, there are markets both days: the Mangawhai Tavern Market on Saturday from 8.30am to 1pm, and the Mangawhai Beach and Country Market on Sunday from 9am to 1pm at the Mangawhai Domain.
The Mangawhai Tavern opens its doors from 10.30am with live music in the garden bar for Saturday's market shoppers to sit back and enjoy while taking in the estuary and sand dune views.
The Mangawhai Beach and Country Market Event is a popular summer market event with stalls, car boot sales, food trucks and kids' entertainment, including live animals.
Also in the area, Te Whai Bay Wines are having live music on Sunday afternoon when visitors can also enjoy a platter with a glass of wine or beer.
Dargaville is also hosting a Twilight Market tonight from 5pm to 8pm, overlooking the historic Northern Wairoa River, showcasing local food providers, artists and products in an iconic location.
Ruakaka Surf Lifesaving is having an open day this Sunday from 10.30 to 12pm for those interested in signing up their kids for the club's junior surf for kids. For ages 4 to 13, kids learn surf sports and water safety, while having fun, making new friends and belonging to the club.
It's also the final weekend for the two-week Fringe Festival. If you fancy comedy, An Evening with Tom Sainsbury starts tonight at ONEONESIX, followed by further sessions on Saturday when he will share hilarious tales from his life, observations about humanity and a few "knock-knock" jokes.
For the kids, on Saturday is What's Wrong with Glenda Gumball – a shadow-puppetry musical by Kylie Penn, "the puppet lady". Penn has travelled around the world accumulating puppets and uses puppetry to bring scenes to life.
Local family folk duo Little Ripples have been writing, recording and releasing music for children while raising them and their music reflects their experience. Whangārei Fringe Festival co-director Laurel Devenie rates their music as equal to Anika Moa's family work. Challenging the idea that kids' music has to be Disney-pop/high-energy, their music reflects simple tasks and experiences kids can relate to - being in the kitchen making breakfast, going to the beach - in a local context. Their interactive family concert is Sunday at 11am at ONEONESIX.
Kids Aerial Showcase is the crème de la crème of Studio Whangārei presenting their Youth Aerial Acrobats and will be held at Cirque de Fringe on Saturday at 3pm.
Art galleries are brimming with new works. Try the Myhrr Gallery, which is showcasing a range of lockdown and pandemic-related art works. It looks at the politicians and sign language interpreters who featured in the initial 1pm online briefings, to panoramas made from the eve of alert level 4 in March. These were all made while people-watching in various locations of Whangārei.
There's plenty more Fringe events over the weekend, including comedy, theatre, music, art, drama, acrobats and party.
• Go to www.whangareifringe.co.nz for further details.