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By John Son
October 30, 2018

Five Ways to Get Some Culture in Wellington After Work

Jazz up your evenings once you clock off from work.
By John Son
October 30, 2018

"Culture capital", "the coolest little capital", "the Melbourne of New Zealand". We've heard it all, we're proud of it and we're not even sorry — Wellington is a city simply oozing with culture. Yet, I hear you ask, what's the point when most of us are boxed in an office eight hours a day, five days a week? Don't fret, because there are plenty of ways to get your cultural fix in Wellington after hours, too. Here are five ways you can jazz up your evenings once you clock off from work.



Paintvine is one of the hottest new social activities in town, blending art, wine and general good vibes in one handy after-hours package.

The concept is simple. You sign up for a session at a local bar — it's hosted by none other than Leroy's — and spend the evening channelling your inner Bob Ross and painting a masterpiece. An artist is on hand to guide you through every step of painting the selected artwork for the night (recent sessions in Wellington include Banksy's Balloon Girl and Edvard Munch's The Scream). Everything from the paint to your canvas and apron is provided, and your first drink of the night is free.

It's a chill, non-judgemental environment that caters to all skill levels. It doesn't matter if your only prior art experience is that family portrait you scribbled during primary school that your parents conveniently "lost" before they could stick on the fridge. The goal is simply to have fun.



They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but if you're more of a reader than a painter, Wellington has you more than covered. Not only does the city's range of quirky bookshops make it the envy of bibliophiles across the country, most of them are open till late. That means you can finish work, grab a bite to eat and still have time to hunt for a good book and feed your mind too.

Arty Bees and Pegasus are two of Wellington's favourite independent bookshops, and both are open till at least 7pm on weekdays — and even later on some nights. Unity Books is also open till 7pm on Fridays.

Just after a book to borrow, or looking for a place where you can kick back and really get immersed in a good read? Thankfully, the Central Library is open till 8.30pm on weeknights, offering a quiet haven where you can get some serious reading done.



If life is a perennial journey of learning, you're practically immortal in Wellington. You can find a huge range of artsy classes and short courses where you can learn a new skill or hobby, with classes conveniently timed for after work hours.

The Community Education Centre offers the widest selection of courses, based in a handy city fringe location. There's bound to be something that piques your fancy — whether you want to learn a new language, kick-start that novel you've dreamed of writing, try your hand at Asian cooking, or take up a musical instrument.

Shoemaker Louise Clifton invites shoe lovers and wannabe cobblers to explore the world of shoemaking in her Newtown workshop. At Shoe School you'll be given the skills and creative control to create a pair of your very own shoes. You will also be equipped with the knowledge to carry on with shoemaking in your own home.

Classes tend to be laid-back and small in size, providing an optimal environment for learning.



Wellington is truly the place to be for fans of live underground music. Top-quality bars are peppered throughout the city, hosting both local and international acts all year round.

With tickets for most gigs cheap as chips, you'll find an eclectic cross-section of Wellingtonians — from students to public sector workers and everyone in between — rubbing shoulders and jamming to some fine tunes. Meow, The Rogue & Vagabond and San Fran are some of the top venues in the city centre, while Newtown is proud home to the hotspot that is MOON 1.

Theatre buffs are well catered to as well. BATS Theatre is a Wellingtonian icon, hosting local emerging talent and providing a springboard for some real rising stars (fun fact: BATS's distinguished alumni include Flight of the Conchords). With a commitment to ensuring 80 percent of their works presented are from New Zealand, it's simply the best place in the country to see up-and-coming homegrown theatre.



Who says going to the cinema is dead? It's still alive and kicking in Wellington, anyway. This city is home to some of the country's most charismatic cinemas where watching a movie isn't just a cheap last-resort date idea, it's a proper night out.

The Embassy is an obvious pick here, boasting the regal trappings of a bygone era — think marble staircases and wrought-iron handrails. Further out from town, the Roxy and Empire are also fine specimens, screening the latest flicks in some of the city's most historic buildings.

For a film experience with a real difference though, check out Time Cinema in Lyall Bay. The tiny, privately owned cinema is one of Wellington's best-kept secrets, with only a few screenings a month and a delightful cinematic museum thrown in for good measure.


Published on October 30, 2018 by John Son

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