What to do in Christchurch for August and September

Christchurch Festival of Arts

For 5 weeks over August and September, Christchurch Arts Festival has a huge variety of exciting shows and activities planned for the city. There’s something for everyone with shows and activities planned for a number of locations around Christchurch beginning on August 22. Circus and Cabaret If circus or cabaret acts sound like your scene, this year’s festival lineup, includes some exciting shows with a mix of jaw dropping acrobatics and wild, rock ‘n’ roll cabaret. Music and Dance There is a great range of musical performances with everything from the symphony orchestra to Fly My Pretties, where some of New Zealand’s finest musicians join together. There are also some exciting dance performances including ‘Fault Lines’ which looks at human response to natural disaster. Ideas and Art Unique works of art and talks from some of the country’s most interesting minds – there’s bound to be something that catches your interest. Check out the Arts Festival website to find more of this year’s exciting shows and activities. You’ll need to book fast as some of the performances are already sold out! 

Polar Night

This stunning exhibition at the Canterbury Museum, featuring photographs by French photographer Vincent Hilaire, chronicles a unique winter research expedition to the Arctic Ocean during the northern hemisphere winter of 2007-2008. The expedition yacht Tara (which was originally Sir Peter Blake’s yacht Seamaster) became locked in sea ice near the North Pole while its crew were involved in Project Damocles, a European climate change research project which was part of the International Polar Year. This exhibition of black and white photos is accompanied by an original sound-scape, composed using recordings of the sounds generated by the ice which surrounded the vessel. A book entitled Tara Arctic – A New Zealander’s Epic Voyage, written by the expedition’s leader, Grant Redvers, accompanies the exhibition.  The book tells the story of the whole expedition and focuses on the human adventure, the scientific mission and the challenges of working in a small, isolated, multi-national team for a year and half on the bleak and dangerous Arctic Ocean.  The expedition is on until the 27th of October.

Don Giovanni

Regarded by many as Mozart’s liveliest, most romantic and most “extreme” music, the opera Don Giovanni has drawn rapturous praise from audiences ever since its premier way back in 1788.  The character of Don Giovanni, a hedonistic womaniser, will seemingly stop at nothing - even murder - in the pursuit of pleasure.  Part comedy and part tragedy, Don Giovanni’s anti-hero antics have made this opera one of the most-performed and most loved in history. Sung in Italian, this new production stars English baritone Mark Stone as the Don, with Dunedin’s Jonathan Lemalu as Leporello, English-born Australian soprano Lisa Harper-Brown as Donna Anna, acclaimed Scottish tenor Nicky Spence as Don Ottavio and Anna Leese as Donna Elvira. The singers are accompanied by the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra conducted by NZ Opera's Director of Music Wyn Davies.  The opera’s season runs from August 21st until August 24th and lasts approximately 3 hours and 15 minutes including a 20 minute interval.

Stan Walker in Concert

This young fella from Mount Maunganui seems to have been everywhere lately!  One of the country’s most popular artists, Stan has sold over 170,000 singles and close to 100,000 albums to date, collecting 5 New Zealand Music Awards along the way. Stan made his acting debut in February this year in the successful feature film Mt Zion.  Stan’s song Take It Easy, from the film’s soundtrack, also held a number one New Zealand chart position and gained platinum sales.  And if all that wasn’t enough, Stan than graced the small screen in his role as a judge on the debut series of X-factorNZ. Stan Walker will well and truly hit the road this year, taking on an extensive national tour that will see him travel from Whangarei to Invercargill, playing 23 shows across the country. Stan Walker's World Tour of New Zealand may well be the longest anyone has attempted in recent New Zealand Music history. Commenting on his upcoming tour, Stan says: “New Zealand - if you’ve got some people and a hall with power, I’m coming to you! It's going to be heaps of fun and I promise you'll get a great show. I can’t wait” Stan Walker performs at the Air Force Museum, Wigram, on September 19th.

The New Brighton Car Boot Sale and Market

This quirky market is held each Sunday (weather permitting) in the car-park of the New Brighton Club on the corner of Hawke & Keepel Streets in the seaside suburb of New Brighton. There are stalls selling good used and new clothes (both children's and adults), new and antique jewellery, collectable china and ornaments, games, books, toys, small household appliances, cycles, along with surplus home-grown fruit and vegetables when available. 

The Bachata Festival

!Hola!  This is something for anyone interested in Latin dance.  The New Zealand Bachata Festival got off to a flying start last year with the inaugural event being described as a huge success. Bachata is a style of dance that originated in the Dominican Republic.  It is danced all over the world but each country has its own variation on the basic movements.  The basics of the dance are a two-step with Cuban hip motion, followed by a tap on the 4th beat.  Most of the movement is in the lower body and the dance is regarded as much easier to learn than other Latin dances such as the Tango or the Salsa. The Bachata Festival runs from August 30th until September 2nd and features day and night and workshops, performances, and dance parties.  While the weekend has a main focus on Bachata, a handful of other dance genres will be thrown into the mix.  A number of local and international instructors will attend the festival So grab your partner, put on some insanely tight pants or a hat with fruit on it and get into Bachata…OLE!  With so much on in the area during August and September, you'd better book your Christchurch accommodation and stick around for a while!