“‘Cause everybody loves a circus show…” Our trip to the International Buskers Festival in Auckland.

It occurred to me as we walked through the Auckland CBD for the second time in two days on Sunday that most of our weekends with the children from now until April will be spent there. It’s the same every year.

We are very fortunate to live so close to a city that offers so much to do for families…and most of it is free. With last weekend being Auckland Anniversary long weekend we were spoilt for choice. On Saturday we spent an excellent day at the Seeport Festival. This is the third time we have been and we know now from experience that the best time to go is Saturday morning. All the rides are free and the queues are the smallest at that time. By Sunday and Monday word has spread and the place is packed, and nobody likes queuing with an impatient four year old.

On Sunday we had the usual “what shall we do?” conversation that I’m sure most families have every weekend. I quick search of the Auckland Live website and we found the Buskers Festival.

So we packed everyone into the car, bags filled with snacks, water bottles, hat and sun screen and drove into town. We always park at the Civic carpark ($12 for the day at the weekend) and central to all the fun.

We arrived not long after 11.30 to Aotea Square and the girls happily played with the imagination playground that was set up and the giant connect four. The square has shade, seating, music, food vans. You could go into Auckland and just stay here for the day to be honest.

The first show we planned to see was Kilted Colin; an American in a kilt with bagpipes, knives and a 3 metre unicycle. The area chosen for the buskers was great. We sat on the steps and the trees provided some shade. Our girls, who are 3 and nearly 5, absolutely loved the show. He drew a huge crowd and got some excellent crowd participation going. I am sure you would have been able to hear the cheers over the noise of the buses going down Queen Street.

The shows were roughly thirty minutes long so in between we grabbed some food from one of the food trucks and found some shade. It was a long enough break for us all to be ready to watch the next performer who was from Germany; Woody the Woodman.

It was a real change of pace from the high powered jinx of Colin. Woody was calm and slow. He was dressed like a tree and I have to admit the make up and costume scared my three year old a bit…until he started handing out lollipops. When discussing the day just before bed later she happily told me he was her favourite of the day; because of the lollipop.

Woody took the opportunity to do his performance under the shade of the trees on the side of the road. It really added to his show which was enthralling and entertaining. It really was something for all ages to enjoy.

It was time for us to move on, so we chose to walk down Queen Street towards the Downtown Shopping Centre where Basketball Jones was performing at 2pm. A New Zealander who introduced himself as “half Maori, half amazing” he entertained us with his basketball tricks and juggling. The girls loved his finale when he got on his unicycle and juggled balls and a torch. This was something they had never seen before.

It was a hot day and the girls had done a lot of walking so we got on the red Hop bus to take us back up to the top of town with the idea of grabbing a quick ice cream and heading home. We had seen three great shows and everyone had a great day so far, but while eating the ice cream we also managed to catch the second half of one more show, Cate Great. She amazed us by doing a one armed handstand and my nearly five year old looked to me and simply asked in amazement, “how?”

The international performers we saw were great. Long may this annual festival continue. Long may all these events organised for families in Auckland continue.

Everyone slept well that night and the next day when my three year old made us all sit down to watch her dog juggling show, whilst wearing a tutu, and greeted us with “Good afternoon Ladies and Gentleman” I knew even more that it was a day well spent.

She’s still working on her one arm hand stand, but she’ll get there.


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