If you’re anything like me, the recent appearance of festive displays in shop windows has filled you with dread, reminding you that the next month will be a non-stop flurry of shopping, decorating, cooking and planning, fuelled entirely by Christmas mince pies and cheap office-do plonk.
Never fear, though – Wellington has a full programme of events coming up that will cheer up even the scroogiest among us. Read on, mark these dates in your diary, and take deep breaths. We’ll get through this.
If anything will bolster your Christmas spirit, it’s seeing the season through the eyes of the kids in your life.
This weekend (24 and 25 November), Santa is descending on Lambton Quay for A Very Welly Christmas, two full afternoons of free festive fun, including live entertainment, crafts, ice skating and even hemisphere-defying snowball fights. Saturday’s revelry will be capped off with carol singing in Midland Park from 6pm to 8pm.
From 26 November onwards, Capital E is adding a dash of magic to the city with Joy is … Christmas, featuring the Dream House, a fantastical creation straight from the brilliant minds of children (because, you have to admit, grown-up house designs just don’t feature enough slides or turrets).
Beautiful Old St Paul’s is hosting a Christmas Movie Night on 15 December, screening Tom Hanks’s 2004 family flick The Polar Express. In these deeply divided times, Hanks fandom is one of the few things that unites all human beings; you owe it to yourself and your kids and the entire concept of world peace to come along.
By 22 December, I pray you’ll be all sorted – presents under the tree, Lindauer in the fridge, etc – and can stay well away from the mall and the supermarket. Instead, celebrate like a true Wellingtonian with Christmas at the Cable Car. There’ll be face painting, a best-dressed competition, storytelling, crafts and games, and Santa himself has already RSVPd. Tickets are $10; make sure you book ahead.
Depending on who you ask, music is either the best or worst part of the season. Me, I love a bit of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, but I’m still keen to add some class to the proceedings with these two NZSO events
First, there’s the free Christmas family day at Te Papa on 1 December. The orchestra will kick things off with an hour-long performance, featuring classics like “Peter and the Wolf”. Then, there’ll be a carol-singing workshop, followed by a proper singalong with the NZSO and the Pop-up Carol Choir.
And for a sophisticated grown-up night out, there’s the Christmas Pops, 15 December at the Michael Fowler Centre. This year, Australian mezzo-soprano Jacqui Dark is hosting and Benjamin Northey is conducting; the programme will include classic orchestral works alongside your favourite carols.
Despite my griping above, I’m convinced Christmas shopping doesn’t have to be soul-destroying. Pick up some unique, meaningful gifts with these outside-the-box options.
Zealandia is hosting the For the Birds Art Show on 29 November. Find a gift for the birdwatcher or nature-lover in your life, support local creatives, and take advantage of the bubbly and nibbles that are a staple of all good art exhibitions.
The much-loved Wellington Underground Market is embracing all things festive with the Wellington Christmas Markets, running every Saturday and Sunday from 1 December. If you set your mind to it, I reckon you could knock off everyone on your list at just one of these events.
Advent calendars aren’t just for kids! WREDA’s ever-popular Wellington Advent Calendar begins on 1 December, where you’ll receive a special deal every day until Christmas (think discounts on food, drink, shopping, pampering, activities and more).
After a long day of Christmas prep, sometimes you just need to sit back and let someone entertain you. Instead of flicking on the telly, get along to one of these offerings from Wellington’s stars of the stage.
For an evening of theatre that’s more naughty than nice, check out Santa Claus at BATS Theatre, running from 5 to 15 December. This adults-only comedy sees Santa doling out punishments to the people of Wellington, who, it seems, have been very bad this year.
The name says it all – the Big Gay Christmas Drag Show at The Fringe Bar, on from 6 to 9 December, is guaranteed to be the wildest, loudest, raunchiest event on your Christmas calendar. My tip: treat yourself to a VIP ticket, which will get you a front-row seat and a glass of bubbly. (Just don’t blame me if you come home covered in glitter; that stuff does not come off.)