There is no shortage of things to do (or be done) in December. So in the spirit of giving, here’s a list (updated daily) of events that are free entry, or in the spirit of Christmas. Find more event options in the What’s On, Active/To Do, and Community sections of The Wellington App.
Anyone can be Santa, with the right suit, so join in The Great NZ Santa Run/Walk on Wednesday 5 December from 6.30pm and be part of the major nationwide fundraiser for the Graeme Dingle Foundation. The Santa Run concept is simple – a 2-3km fun run/walk in a Santa suit around the Waterfront, with each adult entrant receives a free Santa suit as part of their entry fee ($35.00 at the venue). Lots of elves, Rudolphs and other characters have also made the run in previous years. The courses are kept easy so everyone can finish, with minimal training and are highly visible for maximum impact. The Graeme Dingle Foundation is a leader in positive child and youth development building resilience and self-belief in New Zealand’s young people. Registration runs from 5.00pm to 6.20pm at the event centre in Frank Kitts Park, or enter online at the website.
In the final free event at the National Library marking Suffrage 125, Dr Hilary Stace looks back at some of the influential women who fought for social, political and economic justice in New Zealand. Her lunchtime talk on Wednesday 5 December, Wellington Socialist Women Who Helped Build the Labour Party, runs at Te Ahumairangi Ground Floor, from 12.10pm to 1.00pm. Hilary Stace’s work at the Turnbull Library and the Dictionary of NZ Biography provided opportunities to pursue her interests in feminist history and politics. She is also a researcher on disability issues and her PhD was on autism and public policy.
The Salvation Army Band will be performing some of the world’s most popular Christmas carols to get you in the holiday spirit. Sing along with the band, presented by the dynamic Chris Lam Sam, at Te Papa on Saturday 8 December in the Wellington Foyer on Level 2. There are two performances of free, family fun: from 11.00 to 11.40am, and 1.00 to 1.40pm. Carol song-sheets will be available.
The annual Wellington Christmas Markets are always a buzz. Shoppers not only love the huge variety of uniquely Wellington gifts on offer but know their money is going to support local small businesses. Running from 10.00am to 4.00pm on both Saturdays and Sundays for the four weekends leading up to Christmas at the Wellington Underground Market, Jervois Quay, this is festive fun for the whole family. Shop at over 100 beautiful stalls, and listen to some music while you eat a delicious variety of street food!
The fourth annual Christmas in the Park, a community celebration of the Festive Season which brings the Strathmore Park community together, will be held on Saturday 8 December from noon to 3.00pm in Strathmore Park, Raukawa Reserve.
The Lifestyle Sports Scottish Night of Miles is a unique annual event organised by Wellington Scottish Running Club, featuring races over the rarely run distance of one mile, an ideal challenge of both speed and endurance. From 4.00 to 7.00pm on Saturday 8 December at the Basin Reserve, there will be a mix of children’s, senior and junior races, fun social events and several different mile races including elite men’s and women’s races and an all-comers mile that anyone can participate in (including Father Christmas). The event is free, but donations will be collected to hand on to local Wellington charity Bellyful NZ, which provides meals for families with newborn babies and families with young children who are struggling with illness.
Rotary Kaukau is excited to once again bring you the Khandallah Village Street Fair, on Sunday 9 December at Khandallah Cornerstone Community Centre, 2 Ganges Road. From 10.00am to 2.00pm there will be quality stallholders, delicious food, performances from local schools and community groups, and more. Details on the website.
Wellington Palestine Family Fun Day is on Sunday 9 December from 11.00am to 3.00pm at Waitangi Park, Cable Street, with Middle Eastern savoury delights and desserts, jewellery, Palestinian products and clothes, hand henna designs, candles and booklets.
Old St Paul’s Family Christmas Carol Service runs from 6.30 to 7.45pm on Tuesday 11 December at 34 Mulgrave Street, Thorndon (doors open at 6.00pm). The bells will be rung before the service by the Wellington Combined Society of Bellringers. Reverend Canon Simon Winn from Wellington Cathedral of St Paul is the Officiant, with the Anon Vocal Ensemble choir, Hutt City Brass and organist David Trott supplying the music. The proceeds from the Carol Service collection will be given to the Old St Paul’s fund raising campaign for the 2019 Seismic Strengthening project. Please bring non-perishable food items for Women’s Refuge.
It was loud, proud and drew a crowd from 1985 to 1996. Now you can relive the Wellington 500 through a new exhibition at Wellington Museum that examines what made the classic race such a major part of New Zealand’s motor-sport history. The exhibition opens on Saturday 15 December and you can test your micro-pedal mettle with a lap or two around the purpose-built RC track from 12.00 to 3.00pm daily until 13 January 2019. Free admission.
Festive family favourite The 12 Storytimes of Christmas returns to Wellington City Libraries from 17 to 21 December. The sessions are suitable for families with children of all ages. Dress in your favourite Christmas costume or pajamas, and listen to stories and songs about the Christmas season. No need to book, just turn up for the sessions which start at 6.00pm, and run for 45 minutes. On Monday 17 December, storytime is at Brooklyn, Cummings Park (Ngaio) and Miramar libraries; Tuesday is Wellington Central Library (children’s section), Thursday is the turn of Wadestown, Karori, Khandallah, Mervyn Kemp (Tawa) and Ruth Gotlieb (Kilbirnie) libraries, and Island Bay Community Centre. And Johnsonville and Newtown libraries are visited on Friday 21 December.
On Tuesday 18 December from 6.00 to 7.30pm at City Gallery Wellington, Te Ngākau Civic Square, Maitreyabandhu from the London Buddhist Centre will be in conversation with Wellington poets Jenny Bornholdt and Bill Manhire about their life and work, New Zealand, and the purpose of poetry. All welcome, with a koha entry to help cover venue costs, and books for sale through Vic Books.
From Tuesday 18 to Thursday 20 December, the Wellington Sustainability Trust at 2 Forresters Lane will be running four fun workshops for children aged five to 12, giving them skills they can use over the summer. On Tuesday from 10.00am to 12.00pm it’s Make a Pallet Christmas Tree. Wednesday 10.00am to 12.00pm is Make Berry Jam and Beeswax Wraps, with Make a Pizza Pot Plants in the afternoon (2.30 to 4.30pm). Thursday is Bake Your Own Fair Trade Treats (chocolate bark; banana bliss balls) from 10.00am to 12.00pm. Cost is $20 per child per session (covering all ingredients and materials); more details here.
The 55th Room at the Inn will be held on Christmas Day, providing a meal, entertainment and gifts to those who may be isolated or lonely. The lunch takes place at Aro Valley Community Centre Hall, 48 Aro Street, from 12.30pm on 25 December. Meals are also delivered to people’s homes. Volunteers are needed for helping with the event – phone (04) 499 3240 to find out more.
The Newtown Collective are putting on another Christmas Day Picnic at Carrara Park, Newtown. The focus of the event is to ensure those who are isolated or in need have an opportunity to celebrate Christmas. It’s a free, fun-filled day, and the Newtown Collective is looking for volunteers on 24 December from 4.00pm to prep food and setup, as well as volunteers to serve lunch on 25 December. Do good on Christmas Day – email to find out more.
Wellington’s free family celebration of the end of 2018, is the New Year’s Eve event at Whairepo Lagoon, Frank Kitts Park, from 8.00pm through to the midnight countdown.