SCIRT World Buskers Festival 2016

With the New Year comes another outing for the SCIRT World Buskers Festival, which is back for its 22nd year.

Between 14th and 24th of January, Christchurch will be hosting 65 world class local and international acts for our enjoyment. This year’s selection of acts include street performers, comedians, fringe artists, musicians and visual artists.

Circus Firemen
Circus Firemen at the World Buskers Festival 2012 in Hagley Park, CCL-2012-01-20-BuskersFestival-January-2012 DSC_020.JPG

Once again, Hagley Park will act as the epicentre, with family friendly shows beginning daily from 11am at the SCIRT Stage, L&P Stage and Buskers Kids Pitch, to name a few, as well as super-highbrow-civilized entertainment for us grown ups in the evening. There’ll also be select shows in the Arts Centre, Christchurch Art Gallery, Mashina Lounge and in New Brighton.

The Festival is a good option for a day out with your kids or night out with friends (or even a date *wink*), conveniently timed in the middle of “I’m bored” season. From experience, SCIRT Busker Comedy Club beats sitting in front of the TV watching dire summertime substitute shows, plus it’s only a gold coin donation admission and you can bring your dinner! Containing “Adult Themes” this one of those grown-up shows I just love, so leave your kids at home.

This year I’m particularly excited about Rose Matafeo, who will be performing in this year’s line-up of Nothing but Stand Up, alongside Ben Hurley, Lloyd Langford and Christchurch born (holla) Eli Matthewson, who has worked with Matafeo on TV-shows such as U-Live and Funny Girls.

Burlesque performer
Buskers Burlesque (photo supplied by World Buskers Festival)

Buskers Burlesque is also something you have to experience at least once, with this year being the USA Invasion edition. I think this goes without saying, but go with someone you’re comfortable with seeing that kind of show with.

Puppet Fiction
Puppet Fiction (photo supplied by World Buskers Festival)

Other acts I’m also excited to see include Puppet Fiction (“the ultimate Tarantino homage, this is Pulp Fiction with strings attached”), and Jon Bennett’s Pretending Things Are a Cock.

If nothing I’ve mentioned remotely interests you, you can head to the World Buskers Festival website where you can see the full selection of shows and performers along with a timetable.

And if I’ve been unhelpful, but you’ve managed to read this to the end, I promise my final tip will be worth it. Beat the Queue tickets are now available, so buy them to shows that do interest you! When they sell out, a selection of tickets for the shows will be available on the day of the show to purchase in Hagley Park, so don’t panic, but, like, who wants to wait in a queue? Don’t say I didn’t give you anything.

Learn more about the SCIRT World Buskers Festival

Writing and writers

Cover of Pacific: The Ocean of the FutureWeeks after NaNoWriMo ended, and still no blog post! Alas, I didn’t reach 50,000 words — finished up around 35k — but I achieved my main goal, which was to write every day. I’ve continued to write on and off since the 30th, but Christmas panic is definitely descending so who knows how long that will last.

My current distraction has been flicking through the New Zealand Festival lineup, which will be held in Wellington next year. All of the events look great, but I’m especially excited about the Writers Week. I want to see almost all of them! I’ve narrowed it down to some favourites:

  • Kate Beaton. I’ve been enjoying her online comics since she was on, and I own all her published material (which now includes a picture book, the adorable Princess and the Pony). She is so clever and funny and writes about my favourite subjects (history! feminism! fat ponies!).
  • Jasper FfordeCover of Hark! A Vagrant. I haven’t got around to reading his more recently published works, but I thought the Thursday Next books were super fun. If you like quirky books about books, with dodos and national croquet, then start with The Eyre Affair.
  • Mariko Tamaki. I first came across her in collaboration with her cousin Jillian Tamaki, whose comic Supermutant Magic Academy came out this year. Together they’ve published graphic novels Skim and This One Summer, both beautifully illustrated reflections of adolescent experiences.
  • Simon WinchesterWriter of recreational non-fiction, most recently Pacific, all about our neighbouring ocean. I can’t wait to read it.

Needless to say there are loads of other authors I’d like to see, including Anis Mojgani (spoken word poet) who Alireads blogged about last year, but those are my top five.

Is anyone else planning on going to the New Zealand Festival? What events are on your must-see list?

New Zealand Festival

A Yuletide wish

A Yuletide wish from AshburtonA Happy New YearChristmas greetingSincere regards from GeraldineA volume of good wishesMay all that is bright on earth smile upon youNew Year greetingsA very happy Christmas and a bright new year

These images come from Heney family album, a private collection including a selection of photographs and postcards from the Heney family album.

Explore more Christchurch Christmas images.

Spend your weekend with the K-Culture Festival!

Have you ever been curious about Korean culture and cuisine? Are you free this Saturday? Then the K-Culture Festival is just for you. This year it will be held at the Cardboard Cathedral between 11am and 2 pm on Saturday 14th of November.

K-Culture FestivalThe K-Culture Festival (Korean Day) is held annually in Christchurch, showcasing the essence of Korean culture and heritage. The Korean Society of Christchurch is promoting this year’s K-Culture Festival in order to foster cultural diversity and to strengthen the bond between the different cultures within the Christchurch community.

There will be a variety of performances on display, including traditional Korean dance and Pansori (Korean opera) performed by the International Korean youth performance group as a special guest all the way from Korea.

There will also be a special K-Pop competition showdown held for the remaining final 8 teams. Watch the Hanbok (Korean traditional dress) fashion show as you eat a variety of delicious Korean food. Experience the beauty and rich culture of traditional Korea through your very eyes, right here in Christchurch

The K-Culture festival will be an experience you will never forget. Step out of your front door and step into the new and exciting world of Korea.

Wrapped up in bookshops – NZ Bookshop Day Saturday 31 October

Tell you what book launch, Scorpio BooksSaturday 31 October is the inaugual NZ Bookshop Day. Pay a visit to a local favourite, or try someplace new.

Here’s a grab-bag of my Christchurch bookshop hangouts (do tell about your faves in the comments):


  • East’s Bookshop – perfectly centrally located for a browse,  saw Jasper Fforde talk there.
  • Smith’s Bookshop on Manchester Street – a cornucopia of books, you could lose yourself for hours in its rambling bookwilderness.
  • Scorpio – like a platter of temptation. (bought a book about typography called Just my Type)
  • Book city – by the IRD. I used to go there a lot with my Dad on work lunchtime rambles. The books are still in there if you peer in. (bought a book about Bronzino)
  • That shop by South City that had loads of Taschen books. (Pierre et Gilles)
  • The Children’s Bookshop – when I was a new Mum, me and my wee girl were always hanging out on Victoria Street. (Mouk)


  • Scorpio Books, still. The bijoux one in the Re: START, with an occasional foray to Riccarton for the big brother shop. (Bought books by Morrissey, Nick Cave, Jarvis Cocker  etc)
  • IMG_8596Best books – a pop up book store, a fab part of the new Christchurch. (as pictured)
  • The new Smith’s Bookshop at the Tannery in Woolston. (bought High noon for coaches)
  • Edgeware Paperback Centre. Shelves everywhere, heaving with books. (Bought Gwenda Turner ABC and a Raymond Briggs book)
  • University Bookshop – oh boy, not just for students. (bought a little book about bookshops)
  • Comics Compulsion in Papanui – a regular visit now is part of our lives. Comics rule! (Bob the Burger and My Little Pony comics)

To all the bookshops – and the people who make you tick and hum – you are the goodies. Love your work.

IMG_6016 Tell you what book launch, Scorpio Books

More about NZ Bookshop Day

What’s on in Christchurch

There’s a Snap me reading photo competition and an All Good: A New Zealand Colouring Competition.

Booksellers list of what’s on – here’s the Christchurch events:

Piccadilly Books – Celebrate your bookshop with your children! Bring the children in-store at 11m for a playful interactive storytelling show with Kirsty Collett, author of Fly Story Fly and while your young ones are being amused there is something for the Mums and Dads happening at the same time, internationally acclaimed postnatal educator, author, director and practitioner of BabyCues, Philippa Murphy will be in-store to chat to parents and sign copies of her book.

The Original Children’s Bookshop Christchurch
It’s Halloween, so dress up!  Spot prizes for the best costume, colouring competitions for all ages – win books, gift vouchers, Book Tokens and a Hugless Douglas toy and slippers.  Local illustrator Jenny Cooper will be instore from 11.00am – 2.00 pm and Helen Taylor will join her at noon and be here until 3.00pm.  At 2.30pm community librarian Zac McCallum will be here for story telling.

University Bookshop Canterbury  – Banned Book Quiz – Test your knowledge and be into Win!In celebration of NZ Bookshop Day UBS is running a banned/challenged book quiz. Penguin Random House, Walker Books, Hachette, HarperCollins and Nationwide Books have all kindly donated items for their awesome gift pack. Come in and give it a try! The winner will be announced on the 2nd of November.

Paper Plus Northlands – Conversation Couch & Speed Dating
Paul Cleave and Joe Bennett will be taking pride of place on a “conversation couch” at the front of the store where customers can join them for a beer/wine to discuss their books, or any other book/topic of their choosing. Kind of like speed dating with a famous author…

Scorpio Books – Meet with Local Authors and Poets
Patrick Evans, Being Eaten Alive, Making It and Gifted will be instore in the morning and over lunchtime meet Fiona Farrell, The Broken Book, The Quake Year and The Villa at the Edge of the Empire and during the afternoon meet with poets Jeffrey Paparoa Holman and Frankie McMillan. Enter the Colouring In competition and visit the store to be in to “Win Your Height In Books”.

Trick or treat?

The Halloween EncyclopediaHalloween is upon us! It seems that everywhere we go, there are costumes and candy, and, in spite of many people being “dead” against it, it’s gaining momentum and getting bigger each year.

The word Halloween comes from a Scottish term for All Hallows’ Eve, the eve of the Christian celebration of All Hallows’ Day. It initiates the three-day observance dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints, martyrs and the faithful departed believers. If you are interested in learning more about it, we have a great book: Halloween, Its Origin, Rites and Ceremonies in the Scottish Tradition.

Halloween is celebrated by many cultures in many different ways, but the best known is the American way – a fun celebration where costumes are worn and children go trick-or-treating: door knocking asking for candy in exchange for not doing mischief.

Cover of The Day of The DeadIn Japan the day is called Obon (Festival of Lanterns); in Mexico it is Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead); in Cambodia it is P’chum Ben, (Ancestors’ Day); in Romania it is Világítás (Day of the Dead). Samhain is a Gaelic celebration; in China it is Zhong Yuan Jie (Ghost Festival) and many other countries have a similar festivity. I suppose for us humans death is the last frontier and we want to make sense of it in any way we can. And if we can’t, then we will challenge and mock it by dressing up and eating lots of candy!

So what will you be doing? Will you be joining the fun by getting dressed up and making some ghoulish goodies and decorations? Or will you just have a quiet day of remembrance?

Cover of The Real Halloween Cover of Ghoulish Get-Ups Cover of Halloween Book of Fun! Cover of Trick or Treat

Diwali 2015

Diwali Display at Hornby Library
Diwali Display at Hornby Library, HO-Diwali-2015.DSC2090.jpg

Diwali is one of the major Hindu festivals. It is celebrated in all parts of India, where it is a national holiday, and in Hindu communities worldwide.

Diwali takes its name from “Diyas” (lamps) which symbolically remove the darkness and awaken the light. Clay lamps traditionally filled with mustard oil, or candles of different colours like red, green, and yellow are lit and placed around the entrances of houses.

Families spend days cleaning and decorating their homes in preparation for Diwali. The idea is to fill the houses with lights and remove the gloom and darkness. The preparation of traditional sweets to share with families and friends makes the festive spirit even merrier.

The first thing we do on Diwali day is get up early, wear nice new clothes, and offer fruit and sweets to family members. Later we visit friends to exchange greetings and sweets. The concept is to get everyone one in a festive and relaxed mood. The celebration generally concludes with spectacular displays of fireworks – these play a significant role in increasing the charms of Diwali among all age groups.

Diwali 2015 posterDiwali in New Zealand is known as the Indian Festival of Lights, and has become of the biggest regular yearly events in Christchurch.

This year the official celebration will take place on Saturday 24 October at Horncastle Arena from 3pm till 9pm (and probably later!). It will be an event where you can expect lots of entertainment showcasing the culture and arts from various states of India. There will be food and trade stalls, and of course fireworks so that all the people in Christchurch can enjoy experiencing the Diwali festive spirit.

Hope to see you there!

Hornby  Library

Make a Fun Palaces comic

Get your Fun Palaces on right now with the Fun Palaces Comic Maker!

You can drag and drop characters inspired by Emily Medley’s original Fun Palaces illustration into a comic-book story. Just move the images around, and add captions to tell your own Fun Palace adventure. Once it is looking slick,:

  • “Preview” – you can save the image to your computer
  • “Submit” and add to the already expanding collection of Fun Palace comics which will be shared at

Here’s my maiden effort.


Kia ora and big ups to the very talented Talia Yat and Phil Gullberg of the State Library of Queensland who made the Fun Palaces comic maker, based on a concept by man-who-makes-things-happen (and library lover)  Matt Finch.

See you at Fun Palaces – it is on tomorrow and Sunday (3 and 4 October). The first Fun Palaces in the world this year will be the Christchurch ones!

Get yer Fun Palaces on – Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 October

Free, pop-up Fun Palaces will be hosting exciting arts, science and culture activities for people of all ages and abilities this weekend. New Zealand will be the first place in the world to get our Fun Palace on!

Fun Palaces

My sister in London will be Fun Palace-ing too – Story Telling For Big Kids and Little Kids at the Brockwell Lido Fun Palace. Meanwhile, in Christchurch I will be with the whanau sampling events at our Fun Palaces HQ Central Library Peterborough. But wait – there’s more!


Be There lists all the local Fun Palaces.  You can win too – snap a selfie at any of the Fun Palaces and upload to your social media accounts with the hashtag #funpalaceschch and you are in the draw to WIN a bicycle worth up to $2,000. See you there!

Body Festival 2015

The Body Festival is Christchurch’s annual event of dance and physical theatre. This year it runs from 25 September to 11 October. Participation is an important part of the festival which gives everyone an excuse to give it a go and get their body moving!

As always this year’s event offers a broad range of dance workshops and beginners’ classes as well as performances and exhibitions.

The opening night event, No Lights No Lycra was energising (and sweaty) with the kind of upbeat playlist sure to get a body moving, but there are plenty of other opportunities to “trip the light fantastic”.

Dance o mat, 2012
Dance o mat, 2012, Flickr CCL-2012-03-21-IMG_0499

Don’t miss these highlights of the festival –

Speed dancing at TedX
If you’re not sure what kind of dance style suits, you can try out a range of them in quick succession at the Dance-O-Mat.
Library leotards
Body Festival 2008, Flickr CCL-2013-01-15-DSC09707
Retro Aerobics
Flash back to the 1980s and “feel the burn” with this homage to the workout videos of Jane Fonda. Bring your legwarmers and leotards!
Outstanding Feet
A celebration of the diversity of dancing talent sourced from the high schools of Canterbury.
A day of hip hop
Watch a dance movie and become inspired before you join in on one of the hip hop workshops, or all three of them: beginner, intermediate and advanced.

Feeling inspired and want to know more?