Twelve Summertime Events That'll Help You Beat the Back-to-Work Blues

The summer break may be over, but there are heaps of fun things to do before winter arrives.
Concrete Playground
Published on January 19, 2021

Twelve Summertime Events That'll Help You Beat the Back-to-Work Blues

The summer break may be over, but there are heaps of fun things to do before winter arrives.

We made it through 2020. We're in the throes of a new year, with two months of summer still ahead of us. The holidays are done and dusted, and as we get back into the swing of work it can be easy to get swept up in all the chaos and miss out on the good stuff — like beer festivals, ice cream markets and art fairs.

It's time to make the most of the summertime events you probably meant to check out in 2020 but didn't. New year, new you. And that means getting outside and embracing the best of Auckland life. Here are 12 things to do this summer and autumn to help lift your mood. Get out there and enjoy it.

  • 12

    Aucklanders have another craft beer and food festival to circle on the calendar. From the team behind the long-standing Dunedin Craft Beer and Food Festival and brewery partners Behemoth and Emerson’s, comes the inaugural Auckland Craft Beer and Food Festival.

    The event on Saturday, March 27, 2021 will transform Spark Arena into the country’s biggest urban beer garden, bringing together more than 50 breweries alongside local food vendors. Held across Spark Arena’s indoor and outdoor areas, the event will also see curated tasting room sessions.

    The day will also feature a musical lineup, including early 2000s pop-rock heartthrobs Zed, neo-soul act Molly & The Chromatics and DJ outfit Nice’n’Urlich, with more to be announced.

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  • 11

    The event touted as the perfect summer party is heading back to Waiheke Island in February for two action-packed days of eating, drinking and dancing.

    Flamingo Pier first popped up in New Zealand on the auspicious date of February 14. The flagship event was founded on a floating pontoon in East London’s Hackney Wick by expats Tom Seaton and Luke Walker, where it was called things like “London’s best party” and “top of the pop-ups”.

    The seventh outing of Flamingo Pier will once again be held within the natural amphitheatre of Waiheke’s Rangihoua Estate. As well as open-air disco jams, tree-hung hammocks and a dancefloor under the forest canopy, the event will include nourishment from a selection of A+ food vendors.

    Acts lined up to take the stage on Saturday, February 6 include local producer supergroup Leisure, ethereal dance act Peach Milk, plus first-class disc jockeys K2K, AW B and Frank Booker. The following evening on Sunday, February 7 will welcome Troy Kingi and his band The Clutch, jazz maestro Nathan Haines with an eight-piece collective, and electronic hip hop duo Imugi 이무기.

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  • 10

    Get some sweet relief from the scorching summer heat at Silo Park’s fourth annual Ice Cream Sundae this January. The free afternoon of indulgence is always a highlight of the waterfront community’s lineup of summer activities. This time, it’ll be filled to the brim with sweet treats, music and food to celebrate Auckland Anniversary Day.

    The best ice cream and gelato slingers from around Auckland will set up shop from 12–6pm. There will also be an array of local food trucks to break up the sweet with some savoury, and beats from local DJs for all-day entertainment.

    There will also be some adults-only treats on offer with the pop-up Silo bar concocting ice cream-inspired drinks. Taking place on Sunday, 31 January, Ice Cream Sundae is a free event fit for family and friends to gather and celebrate our city together.

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  • 9

    The COVID-19 outbreak saw Auckland’s huge annual Art Fair move online for 2020, allowing art lovers to browse work from more than 30 galleries from the comfort of home.

    The contemporary art showcase will return IRL for its first-ever summer edition from 24–28 February on Auckland’s Queens Wharf. Visitors can browse works from more than 150 artists, exhibited by leading art galleries of the wider Pacific Rim region. Whether you’re interested in painting, photography, sculpture, moving image, ceramics, drawing or performance, Auckland Art Fair has something for everyone.

    For the first time in 2021 the event will also present a new outdoor sculpture space overlooking the Waitematā Harbour, and a major kinetic sculpture by Len Lye at the entrance to The Cloud. Food will be available by Hēmi Eatery and Waiheke’s The Oyster Inn will be serving oysters from pop-up bars on Wednesday and Friday nights. Local brands including Scapegrace gin, Seresin Estate wines and Hallertau Brewery will be serving drinks.

    Image: Josef Scott.

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  • 8

    After three successful outings, the Sunsetter Food, Wine and Music Festival will return in 2021.

    The expansive lawn of next generation neighbourhood Smales Farm will once again provide a relaxed festival vibe in the convenience of Takapuna. Those who meet the R20 restriction can expect to soak up wine from Waiheke, Kumeu, Marlborough and Queenstown. For those looking to dabble in something other than vino, craft beer will be another main attraction — featured breweries include Riverhead’s Hallertau and Wellington’s Garage Project.

    Where there’s drink, there’s food. Sustenance providers signed up for the occasion include Double Dutch Fries, Sweet As Crepes, Hapunan Filipino Cuisine and Lulu’s Soft Serve, among several others.

    Music is also a core focus of the event. Taking the main stage will be the Stellar*, Automatic 80s, Latinaoteroa, General Lee, Tim Phin, DJ Reminise, and more.

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  • 7

    New Zealand’s biggest beach festival will land in Takapuna from 27 February to 21 March, 2021. Waterbourne Beach Festival incorporates our country’s love for water sports, music and beach culture. Visitors will have the opportunity to watch a movie right on the beach, enter a sandcastle building competition and try their hand at oyster shucking.

    A range of land and water sports will be on show for you to watch and participate in, including paddle boarding, wind foiling, an inflatable obstacle course and a fun run stretching from Takapuna to Narrowneck. If all of that sounds too tiring, how about watching the action unfold from the purpose-built rooftop bar?

    Waterbourne has four ticketed nights featuring talented NZ musicians such as Dave Dobbyn, Tami Neilson, Goodshirt, Sachi, Ria Hall, Kings, and more.

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  • 6

    One of the oldest land masses in the Hauraki Gulf will welcome a new food, wine and music festival next February, and the only way to get there is by public passenger ferry, your own boat or kayak.

    Island Time arrives on the stunning island location of Motutapu as part of a collaboration between Endeavour Live and Ngāi Tai Te Haerenga.

    Tucked away on Home Bay, the one-day event invites visitors to enjoy food and drink from a range of producers and dance away to local bands and DJs. Former Dance Exponents frontman Jordan Luck and his band will perform back-to-back alongside party duo Sweet Mix Kids across the four sessions. Also on the bill are up-and-coming songwriter Cassie Henderson and Waiheke singer-songwriter Nick Fraser.

    Attendees won’t go home hungry with treats coming from the likes of an oyster and cocktail bar run by the Viaduct Harbour’s Saint Alice, New Zealand’s first floating food vendor Captain Kai Moana and cult smash burger pop-up Baby-G Burger. Beverage partners include Part Time Rangers, Rudi’s Beer, Jumping Goat and Brancott Estate.

    Image: WikiCommons.

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  • 5

    Auckland’s Vegan Food Festival rounds up some of the best ethically minded vendors in the city. The third outing of the dedicated vegan festival will take place on Sunday, 7 March at Henderson’s Corban Estate Arts Centre and will once again include a variety of food trucks serving their take on vegan street food.

    Last year’s event included everything from plant-based dumplings and mouthwatering burgers to European-style fries and organic gelato. The family-friendly food celebration comes complete with an eco marketplace featuring local crafts, plant-based health and beauty products, clothing and accessories, plus live entertainment, cooking demonstrations and wellness talks.

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  • 4

    Auckland will celebrate its 181st birthday this anniversary weekend, and Ports of Auckland’s SeePort Festival is just one of the events taking place to mark the occasion. The one-day family-friendly festival is a celebration of Auckland City’s beautiful waterfront and rich maritime heritage.

    Returning for its eighth year of seaside fun, SeePort will create a carnival atmosphere complete with food vendors, military dog performances, drone races, navy boat tours and a bomb disposal unit display.

    The festival will conclude with the Auckland Symphony Orchestra performing on the wharf and a spectacular fireworks finale across Auckland harbour. Attendees are invited to find a spot behind the waterfront’s iconic red fence to enjoy the evening of music and fireworks on Captain Cook Wharf. Alcohol can be brought on to the wharf from 5pm, though glass will be prohibited.

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  • 3

    Western Springs’ outer fields last hosted the likes of Snoop Dogg, Major Lazer and Grace Jones for final instalments of the Big Day Out and Auckland City Limits. In March, a new festival named after the outdoor venue will host a stacked lineup of local acts who have all had substantial international plans curtailed in 2020.

    The debut outing of Outerfields 2021 will be headlined by Benee and Fat Freddy’s Drop, with fellow big-name artists Aldous Harding, The Beths, Ladyhawke and Montell2099 also taking the stage across the 12-hour festival.

    Up and coming acts including rap duo Church & AP, soul-pop artist Paige and singer/songwriter Harper Finn complete the lineup. Sustenance will be provided by a selection of food trucks, while artist installations will bring further life to the open green fields and tree-lined slopes.

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  • 2

    After being cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Auckland Lantern Festival is set to make its return this February in a new waterfront location.

    The festival is New Zealand’s biggest cultural event, annually attracting more than 200,000 people to enjoy the best of traditional and contemporary Chinese culture. The 2021 festival will serve as the headline event for Chinese New Year celebrations in February. Celebrate the Year of the Ox by wandering between hundreds of illuminated Chinese lanterns, enjoying cultural music and dance performances and sampling traditional cuisine from local food vendors. An immense fireworks display rounds off the event.

    The event will remain a free, family-friendly event, with two public sessions running each day.

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  • 1

    After wowing audiences during a sell-out run on Wellington’s waterfront earlier in 2020, one of the world’s most visited multi-sensory experiences is heading back to New Zealand for a three-part encore season.

    This time, Van Gogh Alive will see more than 3000 of the Dutch master’s works head indoors for experiences in Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland. The large-scale projection experience, which allows visitors to marvel at the genius of the poster boy for post-impressionism, opens in Auckland on Wednesday, 15 April.

    The 45-minute family-friendly experience creates the sensation of walking right into Van Gogh’s paintings. Famous works including The Starry Night and Sunflowers are presented in fine detail using Grande Exhibitions’ state-of-the-art technology combining 40 high-definition projectors, while a classical musical score accompanies the vibrant colours in cinema-quality surround sound.

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Top image: Rebecca McMillan Photography

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