It's exactly one month until Christmas Day, and signs of the festive season are popping up everywhere. Of course, Christmas in Northland is far from traditional – we celebrate in jandals, with sunscreen, hats and togs, chilly bins and barbecues. Our festive season is sandy and sunny, and we wouldn't want it any other way.
To celebrate our fabulous summer season, Whangārei District Council has put together a range of exciting events, promoting the use of our city spaces and encouraging people to explore more of our District.
This summer we are piloting a new line up of central city Laneway activities – our Love Our City series of events. This will include the Santa's Grotto experience and a flashmob dance event among others – a brilliant way to use our lovely inner-city space.
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The Endless Summer Festival is always a big drawcard, and this year is shaping up to be fantastic, with 69 confirmed events spread across our District from December through to early April.
Promotion of the Festival will be starting soon, so put it on your summer must-do list for 2019/20. Many of these events are free to attend, family friendly and fully accessible.
Becoming fully-accessible is a focus for our council. Have you seen the walking green man at the Rathbone and Robert St pedestrian crossing? Not only does he walk when it's time to cross, but we get a helpful countdown too.
Our city centre crossings are being redeveloped with clearer crossing signals and a lovely smooth connection for pedestrians, mobility scooters, pushchairs and wheelchairs. There is still plenty to be done, but great progress is being made.
To brighten up our community spaces for the festive season, Council will be installing new "Kiwi Christmas" flags in areas such as the city centre and Town Basin. These are designed to characterise what Christmas means to us here in Northland – you'll be seeing them soon, so I won't spoil the surprise!
With the Christmas season comes the Christmas shopping season: I encourage you to make a day of it, walk into the city centre from one of our free car parks (such as the new carpark on Pohe Island or the Bascule Bridge car park) and take advantage of everything our city centre has to offer. With the opening of stages three and four of the Kamo Shared Path, you could even walk, scooter, bike or use your wheelchair or mobility scooter to access town from further afield.
Supporting our local retailers is important at any time of the year, it is my hope that our community will keep local businesses in mind for Christmas shopping too.
The great Whangārei Christmas Festival is on at Semenoff Stadium this Saturday between 4.30pm and 8.30pm, so come along to this free, family event and enjoy the festive fun and laughter. See you there!
• Sheryl Mai is mayor of Whangārei.