Britomart Highlights this week – Thursday 24 January to Thursday 31 January

New art projects on their way, a woman of many talents, and the five top reasons we love this city on Auckland Anniversary Day.

We’re counting down to the installation of a very special art project for Chinese New Year.  It’s customary to have living blooms in the home during Chinese New Year, so we commissioned New Zealand Chinese photographer and artist James K. Lowe (pictured) to create a series of luscious images of plants revered in Chinese culture – plum branches, orchids, bamboo, chrysanthemums and peonies – for our living room, Takutai Square. They’ll be displayed in large light boxes arranged in a crescent shape that emulates the passage of the new moon through the sky at the start of  lunar new year on Tuesday 5 February. The lightboxes are being installed on Thursday 31 January, and will be there until Monday 18 February. Watch this space next week for a chat with James about his beautiful work.

The good times keep literally rolling into Takutai Square, with another Food Truck Friday happening this week. From 12pm, you can grab your lunch from one of four fantastic Auckland Street Food Collective trucks – this week it’s Hapunan Filipino Cuisine, Grub’s roast-filled yorkshire pudding wraps, Wiseboys vegetarian burgers (pictured) and Captain Crepes. As always, DJ Rose Alice spins lunchtime tunes to help digestion!

If you’re doing Dry January, a Seedlip cocktail is one of the best ways to break up the boredom of soda-and-lime. It’s a complex, aromatic, non-alcoholic spirit that tastes and looks so much like something more intoxicating that your friends will probably get off your back about when you’re going to start drinking again. Seven at Seafarers is serving it up in a range of refreshing seasonal cocktails that are teetotally delicious.

Odessa To’o is a woman of many talents. Not only is she right-hand-woman to the head of private equity at Westpac (the friendly sponsors of today’s Street Kai on Takutai event), she’s also a world silver-medallist hip-hop dancer and choreographer who teaches group fitness classes at our own Les Mills Britomart. Florence Noble shot her portrait and chatted to her about why she’s embraced being a JAFA and how she likes to spend her time outside of these nine blocks. Read it here.

To help keep Britomart peeps on top of things as the year begins, our friends Nick and Danica from Bikes and Bends are back with their free lunchtime meditation sessions in Takutai Square. The 20-minute sessions are held every Tues and Thurs at noon and 12.30pm. You don’t need to bring anything but a willingness to live your best life.

More art is on its way to Britomart, this time to celebrate Pride (which kicks off on Friday 1 February). Jermaine Dean is the latest artist to participate in our Works on Paper poster series on Customs Street; he’s creating a series of portraits of his friends (like the one above) that he says are “about visibility and agency and being proud of our queer brown bodies.”

It’s no secret that we’re big champions of Auckland. With the city’s Anniversary Day coming up on Monday, here are five reasons we’re stoked to live here. 1. An incredible range of landscapes (Volcanoes! Waterfalls! Surf beaches! Bush walks! Islands! Wineries!) all within 45 minutes of Britomart. 2. Festivals. This month it’s Laneway, next month, the Lantern Festival and Pride. There’s always something good happening in the city. 3. Our public art walks – the central city is wound through with them. 4. Our multicultural community. We’re officially more of a melting-pot than New York, London and Sydney. 5. Amazing food. We’re spoiled for choice when it comes to world-class eateries of all kinds, not just at Britomart, but right across the city.

Don’t be that person standing at the counter at a service station on Valentine’s Day, clutching a semi-wilted bunch of gerberas and frantically dialling restaurants. Instead, take a relaxed lunchtime wander around Britomart this week, pick up a trinket at Tiffany & Co, a cologne at World Beauty, a voucher at a salon, a Britomart Black gift card, or make a dinner booking at one of our eateries now.

It’s your final chance to hear some of New Zealand’s finest up-and-coming musical talent live this Saturday, at the last Strange Summer Streets. From 3-5pm, guitar-voice duo Chelsea Naepi and Adrian Brown, two-time Play It Strange finalist CampbellMack and jazz muso Elisabeth take to the Takutai Square stage. Check them out, so you can boast that you saw them before they hit the big time.