26 July 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of Wellington becoming Aotearoa’s capital. This weekend is the perfect time to be a tourist in your own city, with free entry to over 30 national institutions and a free hop-on, hop-off bus. So grab your friends, flatmates, or a Tinder date, and get exploring.
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
Get your cultural fix in the Parliament Banquet Hall on Saturday, where the NZSO will be putting on three exciting performances: ‘Peter and the Wolf’ at 11am and 2.30pm; and ‘Fantastic Tales’, featuring 8 classical hits, at 1pm. Bookings are required, so email email@example.com tout suite to nab yourself a place.
While admiring the Supreme Court’s architecture from outside is part and parcel of any walk down the far end of Lambton Quay, on Saturday you have the chance to admire it from the inside as well, including areas not usually open to the public.
New Zealand Portrait Gallery
In a self-explanatory exhibition, ‘Capital Characters: Wellington Portraits from Then to Now’ is showing at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery in honour of Wellington’s anniversary. You also have the chance to try your own hand at capturing Councillor Paul Eagle’s likeness from 1-3pm on Saturday, for those less artistically inclined this is sure to be hilarious. The fun continues on Sunday from 10.30am to 4.30pm, when you can watch, or join, artist Jake Fairweather sketching former Wellingtonian of the Year, Ruth Gotlieb.
With so many events on offer at the Opera House this weekend, it’d be rude not to pop in. Qualified well beyond their years, the talented Mimosa Ensemble will be playing selections from their current Chamber Music New Zealand tour on Saturday at 1.30pm and 2.30pm. There will be more performances by the Deirdre Tarrant Dance Theatre at 4pm and Footnote New Zealand Dance at 7.30pm. On Sunday the New Zealand Opera will be putting on a number of events, including a masterclass lead by Dame Malvina Major.
Katherine Mansfield House and Garden
New Zealand’s most famous author, Katherine Mansfield, was born on Tinakori Road in a house built by her father. Pop in this weekend and travel back in time, to play games, dress up, and have your tea leaves read. While great for the kids, this could also make for a very entertaining date.
Parliament is putting on a special tour in honour of the occasion, ‘150 years of the People’s Parliament’, which will be running every half hour form 10am to 3pm throughout the weekend.
City Gallery is always worth a visit, and this weekend is no exception. At 11am and 2pm on both days this weekend, the gallery is offering special back of house tours, which will include a sneak peek of upcoming exhibitions. Equally as exciting, as part of the ‘Demented Architecture’ exhibition, you are welcome to take part in Olafur Eliasson’s ‘The Cubic Structural Evolution Project’, creating structures from thousands of pieces of white Lego.
The Big Birthday Party
Last but not least, the “Big Birthday Party” from 5-7pm on 25 July (with a wet weather contingency plan for 26 July) has your loyal, old mate Dave Dobbyn leading the celebrations with the Orpheus Choir at Parliament Grounds. The Council has also loosely promised cake. I’m not sure about you guys, but a loose promise of cake is all it takes to get me along to pretty much any event, and this is certainly no exception.
These are only a handful of the many events on this weekend, so take a browse of the guide and pick your favourites.