It’s the most wonderful time of the year

Last Updated : 09 Dec 2021
It’s the most wonderful time of the year 1

After the lockdown blues of the past year, some jolly old cheer is top of everyone’s Christmas list as the pohutakawa begin to bloom and Santa prepares to head into town.

To help with that cheer, Auckland has plenty to get you dancing and prancing into the summer break. Explore the map at OurAuckland’s Festive Season page to plan your merry journey over the streets of Tāmaki Makaurau.

Magical storytelling

The highlight of the festival is the new light show in Te Komititanga. A collaboration between Auckland Council, Heart of the City and Commercial Bay, this will wow and delight kids of all ages.

Illuminating the entire Chief Post Office, the show takes you behind the scenes of Santa’s workshop in the North Pole. See some mischievous elves getting up to some playful antics as others work hard to get toys off the production line or enjoy them as they take a minute from the workshop to dance.

The 5-minute show in Te Komititanga will run frequently from 8.45pm - 11pm daily from 3 December until Christmas Eve, allowing you to move through the square and enjoy the Light Show safely.

Lighting up

Auckland Council and Vector are once again bringing some illumination to your summer nights with the sustainable energy show Vector Lights for the Festive Season. Tune in on your mobile phone to listen to the music that accompanies the light show.

From 13 December the Harbour Bridge will be lit up with a light interpretation of the 12 Days of a Kiwi Christmas. Written by the distinguished composer and Maori Language Commissioner Sir Kingi M. Ihaka, the music that accompanies the light show will delight and entertain all of the family.

Head to the end of either Queens or Princes Wharf, to the end of Silo Park or Westhaven Drive for the best views of the show.  

Kicking off at 9pm every evening, the show will be repeated every 30 minutes with the last show at midnight.

The new light show at Te Komititanga.

The new light show at Te Komititanga.

Deck the streets

Seeing all the decorations go up is a sure sign that we are nearing the end of the year. The giant decorations are back again to deck the city centre with some extra holiday bling.

The giant baubles have moved into Te Komititanga and with the biggest at a height of 6 metres, they can’t be missed. At the other end of the square is the illuminating light forest. Brightly coloured, the forest lights up at night for some colourful festive joy. Both are great for Instagram content in daylight and nighttime, so be sure to grab a shot or few.

Colourful LED Christmas shapes hanging from trees, angels floating above Elliot Street, doves and globes in Durham Street East and Vulcan Lane, and wonderful lights along Quay and Queen Streets extend the festive joy out from Te Komititanga.

Be sure to explore the city and take the kids for an adventure finding them all or spend time browsing the shops for that special gift. Follow the Quay Street lights and Queen Street lights as you discover all that is on offer or enjoy the festive lighting on Te Ara I Whiti - The Lightpath either on a bike, scooter or by foot.

Magical Mail

Have you forgotten to send your Christmas wish list to Santa and think it is too late?

Or perhaps you want to send Santa and his helpers some encouragement as they rush around?

Head to the bottom of Queen Street and discover the Magic Mail Machine – a fun activation for kids to send letters to the North Pole.

Christmas tree, o Christmas tree

A symbol of goodwill and love, each shining light, each silver bell. The arrival of the Auckland Live Christmas tree is making Aotea Square merry and bright. It’s the perfect opportunity to treat yourself to a holiday selfie under the twinkling lights after getting all your festive shopping done or start your Christmas Festival journey here and wander down Queen Street finishing at Te Komititanga for the light show.

Check out the displays

Many shops in the city centre really get into the spirit of the season.

Wander around and check out what different places have done with their displays, including a beautiful window display at Smith and Caughey’s halfway up Queen Street that has entertained children for years. Also be wowed at the lighting on the Farmers building from 8pm every night that makes the building look like a giant present.

Keep an eye out for the neon Christmas shapes too – there is a tree and a star to find – and enjoy the festive flags along Queen Street.

Beyond the city centre

With the region moving into Red, festive markets are returning with plenty of ideas and inspiration for the season. Whether it is down in Papakura for their late-night festive fun, in Karaka for a garage sale fundraiser, at Morningside’s Glass house, at Ponsonby Central or at Hillsborough’s Pah Homestead, there is a market for everyone to get that unique and handcrafted gift for family or loved ones.

In addition, the Howick Historical Village is getting in the spirit of the season. While the decorations have been pared back, festiveness is still in the air. Take a step back in time and see the interiors of the grand, 1861 homestead Puhi Nui gloriously decked-out or work your way around the Village learning about traditions from the past on a Christmas trail.


Be sure to check out the festive map for all the great things for families to do across the region in the build up to Christmas.

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