It's the most wonderful time of the year and Auckland is embracing the festivities with a long list of Christmas-y events throughout December. From annual favourites such as the Franklin Road Christmas Lights and Coca-Cola Christmas In The Park, to an intergalactic Christmas comedy and even a Christmas stargazing sesh, there's something even the grinchiest peeps can get excited about!
Franklin Road Christmas Lights
Top of your Christmas calendar this month should be a stroll up Auckland's most festive street, Franklin Road. Its residents sure know a thing or two about decking the halls—we're talking lights (LOTS of them), window displays and even snow (albeit fake); bringing you ultimate festive feels all December long. This one's best enjoyed with a cup of something hot, dressed in your ugliest Christmas sweater (finally, wearing one of these is socially acceptable). Click here for the rest of the best Christmas lights around town.
Eating's an event (and an important one at that), especially at Christmas. Lucky for us, festive goodies are flying out of kitchens all over the city this December, from luxurious high tea treats (Cordis), to mouthwatering creations from some of our fave bakers (think Little & Friday, Amy's Secret Kitchen and Bluebells Cakery). Even Krispy Kreme has jumped on the bandwagon, with festive-themed donuts (the Christmas tree one has a Kit Kat for a trunk, just saying). Our ultimate pick, however, has to be the holiday creations filling the cabinets at Miann. These are some of the most amazing Christmas sweets we've ever seen—and boy, do they also taste good! We're particularly partial to the chocolate bars, which come beautifully packaged and in dulce de leche and gingerbread, eggnog and white chocolate, and pomander, orange and clove milk flavour. Looking for somewhere to eat on Christmas Day? Click here.
Christmas On Queen Street
Embrace your inner child and spend a day checking out the festivities on Queen Street. Make your first stop the five-storey-high Santa, who has been keeping an eye on pedestrians from his perch atop the Farmer's building for as long as we can remember. Sadly for Saint Nick, it's his last year on the job, so forget the haters who say he's creepy and be sure to grab yourself a pic. A little further up the road you'll find another Auckland icon bringing Christmas cheer to passersby—Smith & Caughey's annual window display. Handmade puppets come to life in this cleverly animated show, this year based on The Night Before Christmas. Head inside the store itself for more Christmas goodness, including a huge range of beautiful gifts (the food section is especially epic!) and a magical holiday shop. Be sure to have a peek down some of the surrounding streets, too, for giant baubles, light installations and hanging angels and doves.
Hedleys X Karen Walker Pop-up Bookstore
All December until 24
Books never fail to make great Christmas gifts, so with that in mind get down to Britomart's epic pop-up bookstore and grab yourself some guaranteed present gold. A colab between boutique book publisher Hedleys Books and Karen Walker, this unique spot offers a beautiful selection of carefully-curated books, including the final 600 copies of Blinds & Shutters by Michael Cooper. Cooper is a famed photographer who was a close friend of both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, and the space has been decorated accordingly (think vinyls, a record player and framed photos of artists from the sixties). It's not all rock 'n roll, however—amongst the other books, personally chosen by Hedleys and Walker, you'll find stylish coffee table tomes, summer vacay reads and even something for the littlest readers in your life. Book. Us. In!
Basement Theatre Christmas Show
From December 3
Basement Theatre is bringing true meaning to the phrase 'silly season' with it's funny-as-hell Christmas Show. This year's offering—A Frickin Dangerous Space-mas—follows a sci-fi theme, with out-of-this-world gags from the comedic minds of Pax Assadi, Jamaine Ross and James Roque that will leave you with no shortage of belly laughs.
Our Night Sky—Christmas Edition
From December 4
Ditch the crowded shopping malls and endless to-do-lists for a festive event where all is calm, and definitely bright. As part of this unique offering hosted by Stardome Observatory & Planetarium, sit beneath what looks like a gigantic snow globe and learn about the astronomical significance of the Christmas star, as well as the Christmas tree in the sky (who knew there was such a thing?).
Ponsonby Christmas Carols
December 14 and 21
Know your Silent Nights from your O Holy Nights? No matter, just leave it to the experts when you head along to Ponsonby's Western Park this December for an evening of Christmas carols sung by the Auckland Gospel Choir. Grab yourself a picnic dinner from one of the area's superb eateries, and pull up a pew near the twinkling Christmas tree as you listen to a list of heavenly tunes, old and new.
Victoria Park Market Christmas Markets
From December 5
The magical Christmas markets of Europe are now one step closer thanks to our friends at Victoria Park Market. With these famous fairs as inspiration, they're transforming the iconic Auckland site into a European-style Christmas market each Thursday night; complete with festive performances, food and craft stalls, and a generous sprinkling of Christmas lights. Click here to find Auckland's best Christmas markets.
Christmas At SkyCity
From December 6
The Sky Tower, lighting up red and green each December, is about as close to a giant Christmas tree as you can get, which begs the question—are there any gifts underneath? Yes, as it turns out, in the form of live music, dancing gingerbread men and another smaller (but still very large) Christmas tree, taking up residence in SkyCity from Friday December 6. Make merry while you're there with a visit to one of the nearby bars and eateries—we recommend The Fed for its festively-flavoured Popcorn Old Fashioned.
Christmas In The Park
Can you really call yourself an Aucklander if you haven't spent at least one Christmas celebrating amongst the crowds at the city's biggest Christmas party, a.k.a Coca-Cola Christmas in the Park? Pack a picnic, brush up on those carolling skills and head along with your friends and fam to this epic event, which descends on Auckland Domain on December 14. Headlining the festivities this year are Sons of Zion and Ladi6, who will be joined by a number of other talented performers including a gospel choir, dance groups and a 20-piece band. Rememember what the Grinch said ('what if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more') and be sure to donate some coin on the night—all proceeds go to Youthline, which lends a helping hand to more than 50,000 young people each year.
Christmas Shindig V3
Make the journey north (not to be confused with North Pole) for a very special Christmas party at Leigh's Sawmill Cafe on December 14. Bought to you by 100% GOOD and The Noisefloor, this merry get-together will be literal music to your ears with its exceptional lineup of local artists including Voom, Beachware, DJs SG Margo and Tony M, as well as a surprise special guest. We love that this event is also giving a little something back this Christmas, with net proceeds going to Girls Rock! Aotearoa—an organisation that holds confidence-building camps for young girls where they form bands, learn instruments, write songs and more.
Late Night Christmas
If you need to do some last-minute Christmas shopping but can't stand the thought of going to the mall, head away from the burbs and into the city. More than 125 stores in the CBD will be keeping their doors open late on December 19, including those on Queen Street, High Street and in Britomart. The latter has us feeling particularly festive, with food trucks and free gift-wrapping up for grabs. Make sure you check out some of the almost 100 Christmas-themed performances that will also be taking place on the night, in public spaces and on the street.
Christmas At Silo Park
FROM December 20
Some people like to wind down in the days before Christmas, but we'd prefer to make the most of the festive season while it's still upon us—and we can't think of a better spot to squeeze in some last-minute celebrations than Silo Park. This popular waterfront destination will be decked out with pretty lights, a forest of 'recycled' Christmas trees and more between December 20-23; with plenty of festive-themed food and drink to keep spirits bright. Oh, and don't forget to get online and vote for your fave Christmas movie-the winner will be played on opening night (fingers crossed for Home Alone!).
Find out what other epic events are happening around Auckland this month here.
Wondering what to do for the biggest night of the year? Click here for the best places in Auckland to celebrate New Year's Eve.
Image credit: Motat