From gowns to go-karting, sailing and boat shows to open-mic nights, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland’s major cultural attractions have a range of activities and events to delight Aucklanders and visitors of all ages this summer.

Step into a fashion fantasy with the latest international exhibition from Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, Guo Pei, Fashion, Art, Fantasy 郭培 :  时装之幻梦. Opening on Saturday 9 December the much-anticipated show displays the breath-taking work of renowned couturier Guo Pei, transforming fashion into wearable works of art. Be transported from the Gallery to the runway with more than 60 of Guo Pei’s creations, including The Yellow Queen gown worn by Rihanna to the 2015 Met Gala, and garments never seen before in any other gallery or museum. A series of special events are also taking place alongside the exhibition.

Also from 9 December, get ready for the festive season with Auckland Live Christmas in Aotea Square. Lounge the days away on bean bags, have a go at giant chess, try your hand at an interactive augmented reality bauble game on the big screen or marvel at the 10-metre Christmas tree on display. A programme of free, family-friendly performances is also on offer to celebrate the holiday season, with vintage tunes from The Madeleines, Christmas Classics with National Youth Theatre, Home Alone at the outdoor cinema, and dust off the vocal cords for the ever-popular Christmas karaoke.

Zoo Lates is back at Auckland Zoo this summer, from 4pm to 8pm every Thursday from 18 January to 7 March. Check out free keeper talks, grab a bite at Te Puna, or a two-course dinner at the Old Elephant House, and get the chance to see some of the animals at their most active time of the day.

Also at Auckland Zoo, celebrate Valentine’s Day with an R18 evening of fine dining at the iconic Old Elephant House. Enjoy a three-course meal and an exclusive keeper talk while you sip on some bubbles and enjoy your amuse-bouche. Full details and bookings for Zoo Lates and Valentine’s Day will be available from 5 January on the Zoo’s website.

At the New Zealand Maritime Museum Hui Te Ananui a Tangaroa, experience the Waitematā from a new perspective with the Always Song in the Water exhibition exploring our Moana through art until 10 March, and their summer-long programme of heritage sailings. Sailors of all ages are welcome to help hoist the sails of the Ted Ashby sailing boat from every Tuesday to Sunday, while families with children aged 12 and up can sail on the traditional wooden brigantine Breeze on select Saturdays over summer. The museum’s DIY Dinghies January school holiday programme is available to book now, giving tamariki the chance to put their boat-building skills to the test as they create a cardboard dinghy.

The fun is always on at Lilyworld, the outdoor garden bar and café at Go Media Stadium Mt Smart, with go-kart racing, giant outdoor games and 9-hole mini-putt available. With live entertainment and sports played on the big-screen alongside family-friendly activities, it’s the perfect summer hang-out spot. From Friday 5 January – Saturday 9 January the popular inflatable obstacle course Megaland will return to Lilyworld with 43 obstacles including spikes, beach balls and eight mega slides ready to entertain punters ages 3 and up.

Auckland Stadiums are bringing the city to life as festival season continues. North Harbour Stadium will welcome R&B royalty for Juicy Fest on 6 January. A double-decker day of entertainment awaits on 20 January with rock icons the Foo Fighters playing Go Media Stadium and Sunsetter Food & Music Festival bringing a multi-sensory experience to North Harbour Stadium.

Enjoy the world’s top nature photographs at Auckland Museum from 9 December, with the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023 exhibition. The winning images showcase the emotive power of photography to engage and inspire people of all ages, showcasing stories and species from across the globe and advocating for their protection.

The Christmas Lights are back at MOTAT Great North Road, transforming into a festive wonderland over 12 spectacular nights with stunning light displays, live music, entertainment and more. Running Wednesdays through Saturdays from 6 - 23 December, enjoy tram rides and carol singers, outdoor games, a visit with Santa, along with some delicious kai while taking in the lights.

Auckland Council’s events page is full of events for summer fun across the region, including a vibrant programme of Music in Parks including kiwi icons like Che Fu and King Kapisi, and a blockbuster season of Movies in Parks for the whole whānau.