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Exploring Auckland’s High Street

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If you are a bit of a shopaholic, love great restaurants and coffees, and knowing about the secret streets of cities, then this is the blog post for you! Auckland’s High Street is the cities best open secret, running parallel to Queen Street, this short one-way street features some of the cities best fashion brands and most esteemed restaurants.  And in this blog, we will cover some of our favorite spots on the street:

Unity Books

Unity books is just one of those stores that has something for everyone and where you can jump in and loose track of time. This Auckland institution is one of the last independent book stores in the city and has survived all these years due to their immense collection of various titles and their excellent service from their staff who have expert knowledge and are always on hand to help locate what you need or offer recommendations. The shop is located on a hard-to-miss orange building, so you have no excuse to pas this one up!

Chuffed

This cute little hidden gem has earned a rep as one of the best cafés in Auckland, which simply comes down to their back-to-basics dishes that they do absolute justice by mastering each and every element. From their crumpets to their humble sandwiches in the cabinet, they’ve nailed taste and presentation.

Crane Brothers

If you are wanting to head out for nice night, or are in the city for business and want to look your sharpest, then men, look no further than Crane Brothers. This traditional suit-tailoring store has gained a well-deserved reputation with new Zealand men, form their high quality suits that draw inspiration from British and Italian Tailoring tradition. Garments are Made in Italy and designed to work in harmony with an Antipodean climate and lifestyle.

Flo & Frankie

But of course High Street is a perfect shopping destination for the ladies as well, and one of our personal favorites is the ever-popular Flo and Frankie.  A simple browse through flo & frankie‘s boutique will surely provide you with utter glee, the relaxed retail space is packed with women’s fashion, design and lifestyle goods. Homewares and accessories are dotted around the store providing plenty of gift options as well.

Eight Thirty

If exploring the wonders of High Street requires a quick caffeine fix, then look no further than Eight thirty.  This pink and white café in the heart of High Street is a firm fave for those who work in the city. Delivering some of the best coffee in town, these baristas know what they’re doing. With a great vibe and décor, Eightthirty also has a cabinet full of tasty food so you can hit the hunger spot while enjoying your liquid gold.

Tuck into a food truck: the best meals on wheels

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Kiwi ingenuity is is our blood and we love supporting local business especially if it means mouth watering food! Some of Auckland best food can be found on four wheels, and we have our top five to share with you:

ICE CREAM SOCIAL

Looking for some good quality real fruit ice cream with a wholesome twist? Isaac and Heidi decided to bring real fruit ice cream to the inner Auckland area. With their custom-made caravan they blend your choice of berries into vanilla ice cream, and to cater for ever increasing food allergies and dietary choices they also offer vegan ice cream! Simple, fresh and delicious. They are proud to use biodegradable packaging to reduce the impact on our beautiful environment.

AMARANTO PASTA

Pasta is a staple in every Italian’s diet so when Luisa discovered her intolerance to gluten a couple of years ago, her partner Tommaso started playing around with different recipes to make gluten free pasta…after a year or so of trial and error he found a recipe he (and his very critical Italian friends) was happy with. Excited to share our food with the world, they decided to open up the doors of Amaranto Pasta & Cucina!

BROOKLYN DOGS

You can’t have a food truck list without hotdogs, and let me tell you, Brooklyn Dogs provides a simple menu of quality, manuka smoked sausages that are made from only natural casings, free-range pork and prime beefy hat are to die for. They don’t waste time with fillers, preservatives or nitrates. Their mission is to improve the meat you eat; so that you can experience an American classic the way it was meant to be – handmade, 100% natural and deliciously meaty.

GUERILLA GRILL

Guerrilla Grill is a ’73 Land Rover food truck helmed by Steve and Yang who met at culinary school and have been hanging out ever since! The concept of Guerrilla Grill came about during a summer of travel & when they launched in the winter they saw a gap in the market for some simple, bone warming comfort food. Enter grilled cheese sandwiches! They start on an organic sourdough with a house blend of Dutch cheese. The menu is always changing to keep things fresh and seasonal.

TINMAN

Okay, this one isn’t food, but we all know it’s hard to find good coffee, so I had to share this coffee truck with you! Tinman was created to offer a premium mobile coffee service, using top quality equipment operating out of a vehicle that was a little bit special – a 1967 Citroen H Van. They serve Coffee Supreme coffee, lovingly crafted on a La Marzocco espresso machine using Organic milk. Seasonal cabinet food is available and they scoop premium Kapiti Ice Cream in the summer months.

 

Auckland Winter Festivals to keep the Party Going

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It’s cold outside, and the sun goes down far too early in my opinion, but does that mean the party season has to be over? Or should we keep the drinks pouring and motor on? We have found three amazing winter festivals here in the city of sails that we believe are worth checking out, so replace those summer festival outfits with some layered warm clothing and let’s keep the party going!

MATARIKI FESTIVAL

To celebrate the beginning of the Māori new year, Auckland Council’s Matariki Festival consistently delivers a series of culturally delightful events. And while exact details are yet to be announced, you can expect everything from street food and live performances, right through to light festivals, stargazing, Māori art workshops and film screenings. It’s seen as a time to reflect on Māori identity, as well as an opportunity to look to the future while celebrating aspects of our culture that makes us so unique.

Matariki Festival 2019 runs from 22 June to 14 July in Tāmaki Makaurau

ELEMENTAL AKL

New cultural festival Elemental AKL was developed to make Auckland a more vibrant and compelling place to visit and spend time in during the rain-soaked winter. More than 40 events have been unveiled for the winter festival, including a lineup of light shows, culinary events and cultural performances.

Great Barrier Island is hosting a series of astronomy-themed events, Takapuna’s Smales Farm will see the return its three-day light festival, and an interactive light playground will illuminate Albert Park for three days. The Craft’d Wine + Spirits Festival will host more than 40 boutique wine and spirits producers, Eat Drink Love Ponsonby includes a series of special events and will see international guests take over spaces along the strip, Devonport’s ‘dining corridor’ will host a progressive dinner experience spotlighting native ingredients and traditional cooking methods, and Elemental Feast will see restaurants plate up unique dishes or menus using local ingredients and inspired by the elements.

The entertainment lineup will also see Auckland’s full-scale replica of the second Globe Theatre stick around for its first winter season. At Silo Park there will be an all-wheels illuminated parade in celebration of Matariki, and Te Taumata Kapa Haka will share the dynamic art form of kapa haka with exhilarating live performances

DEEP HARD N FUNKY

If you already miss carving up shapes on the dance floor and breaking a sweat, then we have the perfect thing for you.

For a dose of good hard dancing and EDM, get to George FM’s Deep Hard N Funky. Hosted at Ellersile racecourse, the lineup includes a stack of local and international acts, including P Money, Kings, Maximono, Kormak, Bijou and more. There’ll be six stages to jump between, so if you need to switch it up, something different won’t be far away. It’s also the event’s 20th anniversary, so it goes without saying that things will be bigger and better than before.

Auckland’s Best Winter Activities

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We have all been avoiding admitting that it’s here, but let’s face it, the temperature is cooling down, we’re putting our swimsuits away and getting out the woollies and setting the fires! But just because winter has waltz on in, doesn’t mean your holiday up to the big city has to be lacking! We have done a deep dive on the internet and sourced three great winter activities to do in Auckland in the cooler months!

Have some drinks cozied up by the Fire

There’s nothing quite like cracking open a bottle of red by the fireplace, or having a nice craft beer by the heat of burning embers and a few Auckland bars have made this perfectly simple for looking to get a bit loose in winter! From mulled wine to a nice stout and finger-licking good nibbles, this is the perfect way to end a long week or start a long weekend! Some of our favorites include the Fireplace Bar & Brassiere in Kumeu, catch some live music and some warm rum at Racket Bar in Britomart, or take in the homely vibes of 46 & York in Parnell.

Unique Movie Cinemas

There’s nothing cosier in winter than snuggling up with a blanket, sharing a few chocolates and settling down to a good movie. Although this doesn’t always involve leaving the house, it’s much more fun when you do! From Sunday through to Wednesday, the Mission Bay cinema screens $10 movies (meaning there’s money left over for the Movenpick joint downstairs!). The cosy Mission Bay theatre has a vintage theme to it, showcasing a fine selection of movies from alternative picks to the most popular of flicks. Another favourite is the Lido Cinema in Epsom, which emphasises a gold class experience offering lazy boy’s, a glass of wine and decadent Kapati ice cream. The Lido is perfect for spying out flicks no one else is showing, meaning subtitles and indie films are on the card.

Romantic Walk at the Wintergardens

Even on a cold day this is the perfect activity for lovebirds! A treasured spot in the heart of Auckland lies the most picturesque of locations – the Wintergardens. This is where past meets present, designed in the early 1900’s, it has two Victorian-style glass houses, One is heated, showing off lush tropical plants while the other is neutral, displaying temperate plants changing with the seasons.

Once you’re done exploring the gardens, head up the road to the cosy Domain & Ayr Cafe. With cabinet food set to impress and corners with bright cushions and rustic wooden tables, it’s the perfect finish to a day at the gardens. We recommend their famous 20-minute fluffy pancake but if you’re after something a little lighter, the blueberry muffin is a must.

 

The Best Scenic Drives in Auckland

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With the wet weather setting in, sometimes it becomes harder to see the sights and sounds of the region, but what if we told you could see some of what the city has to offer from the comfort of your own car? In this blog we cover some of the best scenic drives of the city that you can take in over your visit!

Devonport

To get a real tranquil drive, that’s close to the city, simply head across the harbor bridge to Devonport. Reaching out towards the city, you’re guaranteed to have epic viewing spots. Two of our favourite drives are along King Edward Parade, which follows the beach, and Calliope Road, where you’re greeted with an impressive viewing spot at Stanley Bay.

Karaka, Clarks Beach And Waiuku

Take a trip somewhere away from the regular West Coast, and East Coast spots, and instead, head to the south west of Auckland. Start your roadie with a drive through Karaka, enjoy watching horses at the many pony clubs, and be tempted to swim at Karaka Lakes. Keep driving further out west and park up for awhile at Clarks Beach, when you’re done with that, drive around to Waiuku and enjoy river-watching at the Waiuku River.

Maraetai Coast Road

Once you’ve explored south-west Auckland, it’s time to head east towards Maraetai. Drive along Maraetai Coast Road and continue your journey until you reach Kawakawa Bay, offering views out over Hauraki Gulf and a taste of rural driving. There won’t be any stressing about traffic here.

Northcote Point

Pay a visit to the Shore and enjoy a scenic drive out to Northcote Point. It’s not your usual nature and ocean view drive—instead, you get to enjoy checking out the old villas. And the drive gets better. Once you arrive at Northcote Point, you’ll be greeted with the beautiful view looking back towards the Auckland Harbour Bridge and the City.

Awhitu Peninsula

Enjoy cliff top views overlooking black sand beaches, and epic coastal lookouts when driving along Awhitu Peninsula. Head along the peninsula and towards the Manukau Heads Lighthouse, where if you fancy getting some fresh air, then enjoy the views at the lighthouse, and head down to the wet and wild beaches below.

Herald Island

Yep that’s right, Auckland has an island that you can access without taking a boat. A causeway surrounded by mangroves connects the island to the mainland. With a bunch of parks, surrounding nature, and a wharf at the end of the island, there’s plenty of exploring to do.

Whangaparaoa

If you want to drive along lookout points with amazing ocean views and then head down to one of the beaches for a dip, then Whangaparaoa is for you. This spot is totally underrated, much to the locals’ amusement—they’ve been enjoying the peace and tranquillity for years. Drive along Whangaparaoa, through Gulf Harbour and then set up spot at Shakespear Regional Park.

What’s on in Auckland This Easter Weekend

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It’s a popular time to visit Auckland this coming long weekend, with Anzac Day and Easter weekend falling so close together, many will be taking extra time off to make the most of the public holidays, and with school holidays falling in around the same time, you may be visiting us with the little ones in tow! So, to help navigate and figure out what’s going down in the city, we have scowered the internet to bring you some of your favorite events happening the big smoke this Easter.

The Great SKYCITY Easter Egg Hunt

Join The Great SKYCITY Easter Egg Hunt this April and go in the draw to win one of five ultimate family prize packs, including two nights accommodation plus breakfast in a Premium Suite for two adults and two children at SKYCITY Hotel, a $1,000 SKYCITY Gift Card, a family pas up the Sky Tower with a Magic memories photo pack to take home, plus valet parking during your stay.

Four eggs have a letter or symbol, write them on your entry form to complete the special phrase and drop your form in the draw box in the Atrium, there’s a special fifth golden egg hidden somewhere. Find it, write its location on the entry form and you’ll get an extra entry in to the draw (hint… it’s Sky high). Kids also go free these school holidays at SKYCITY Auckland, with a huge range of activities and special offers for the whole family.

The Great SKYCITY Easter Egg promotion runs from 9am on 1 April 2019 to midnight on 30 April 2019.

Dining in the Dark

Dans le Noir? (French for “In the Dark?”) is an international company offering patrons a unique experience by eating in complete darkness, guided and served by low vision or blind people. More than 1.3 million people have already lived this experience worldwide.

In the heart of Auckland City, at Rydges Auckland, surprise your senses as never before! Enjoy a unique sensory experience, thanks to our famous surprise menus in three different versions (Trust the Chef, Seafood and Vegan) assisted by unexpected guides.Your evening will be full of conviviality, excitement but also self-questioning. A full immersion in this sensual dining adventure will impress you as a once lifetime experience!

The Classic Late and Live

Ideal late-night entertainment after dinner or for those night owls looking for a laugh, the live and late showcase is a great late-night option to close your night out at the city. Feature up and comers and some established acts, it’s always a great time. Gather a group of you and 5 mates for the Table of 6 Discount!

Potted Potter

Playing to sold-out houses all over the world, Potted Potter takes on the ultimate challenge of condensing all seven Harry Potter books (and a real-life game of Quidditch) into 70 hilarious minutes. This fantastically funny show features all your favourite characters, a special appearance from the fire-breathing dragon, endless costumes, brilliant songs, ridiculous props and a generous helping of Hogwart’s magic!

Created by double Olivier Award Best Entertainment nominees Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner, the show is a must-see for Potter addicts and a great introduction to the series for anyone who’s ever wondered what all the fuss is about.

Travelling Tastebuds: Mexican Food in Auckland

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In our new blog series we are going to cover a different type of international cuisine and the best spots in Auckland to experience them. One of the great things about Auckland is its diversity, the city is made up of a mixture of different cultures and if there is one thing that brings us all together it’s our love of food. In this first edition we are going to look into some of the best spots in the city that do authentic Mexican food.

Besos Latinos

Translated to ‘Latin kisses’, Besos Latinos is a well-known establishment that is located in the extremely popular upmarket food hall Elliot Stables in the CBD, just off Queen Street. Offering authentic Latin American cuisine as well as a tasty selection of cocktails. Their cocktails are around $15-20, but really it’s the experience and ambience that you’re paying for before or after a night out in town. If you’re feeling a bit famished, then fuel your body with some mouthwatering enchiladas and cheesy quesadillas.

Mexican Specialties

You’ll find one of the most authentic Mexican restaurants in Auckland nested in Ellerslie. This eatery has become famous for its soft tacos filled with protein such as beef, prawn and chicken. And for those looking to feast on a budget, you’ll be happy to hear that everything is priced at around $15 and you’ll leave with a full belly. They have dining in and takeaway options as well as goodies for sale if you feel like recreating your own tacos at home.

The Lucky Taco

If heading to a restaurant just isn’t you thing, then let me introduce you to The Lucky Taco, a much loved taco truck that has been tooting its way around Auckland since 2013. In addition to a range of mouthwatering tacos that they serve including the Tacos De Arrachera with skirt steak and tasty options for vegetarians such as the Tacos De Calabacita with zuccinni. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the Tacos De Sesos which features lamb brain mixed with egg batter. Or unleash your creativity by picking up their hot sauce mix and a home DIY taco kit. (Remember, it’s called hot sauce for a reason!)

Nanita’s Tamales

Nanita’s Tamales is a cosy spot in Northcote food court where you can find the most traditional and homely Mexican dishes. Open for dinner only, though sometimes not at all (it pays to check ahead of time)  it is super affordable where you can feed two for less than $30. One highlight would be the tacos which are around $15 for three and you get interesting options such as chicken and slow-cooked lamb rather than the usual beef. The vegan taco made from organic Mexican black mushrooms (Cultlacoche) is also a must-try. And, of course, you can’t beat owner Nanita’s namesake tamales.

Auckland Best New Bars to End Summer out in

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We have a few mo this left of summer, and we want you to make the most of them! And what better way then heading out for a drink in the afternoon sun? Now, we cover a lot of famous and established bars in our blogs,but for this summer edition we decided to look into some Auckland newer editions, to get you out exploring so,etching a little fresh:

Good George Craft House

Let’s kick things off with an award winning kiwi classic, you’ll know Good George for their lineup of award-winning craft beer and cider. Hailing from Hamilton, this humble operation has quickly grown from a church-turned-brewery into eight dedicated eateries across the country.

Luckily for Auckland locals, good George has finally opened a craft house here, simply take a drive up Tamaki Drive and spot the sassy rainbow stairs featuring sayings like, ‘If in doubt, try a stout.’

The Craft House’s modern Kiwi decor combines exposed industrial fittings and warm wood tones, with an impressive bar featuring two large tankers stationed for the freshest pour. With 18 beers and ciders on tap, both the core range and seasonal varieties are on offer which is perfect for any cider of craft beer enthusiasts, and their sharing platters are perfect for groups who can’t decide on what to choose!

The menus perfectly match he’s the classic beer and brewery. Feel with a selection of pub food, that includes some mouth watering burgers that can please everyone, from Good George’s beef and chicken burgers to vegetarian burger, they have it all.

And if by this point you haven’t had your fill of the extensive beer and cider on offer, grab some of their infamous 946-millilitre squealers to take home. Their slogan-painted rainbow stairs say it best, ‘Good beer, for good people.’

Fitzroy Lounge Bar

For those looking for a little bit of swankyness with their pub feel, then lo k. O further than Ponsonbys newsest cosy and sprawling bar, Fitzroy lounge bar.

Serving tapa style bites, the food menu is small but delicious that can feature a selection of Kapiti cheeses, house-made dips, olives and a range of charcuterie, other selections can meet all and any dietary requirements as well as seeminglessly perfectly matched with any of the fantastic cocktails on offer.

Speaking of cocktails, Fitzroy has a selection of cocktails that are expertly made and bursting with flavour mixing such ingredients such as bgin, Campari, sweet vermouth and mixed berries, sours, Aperol, dry vermouth, pomegranate or mint.

Fitzroy is a perfect place for a stop-in, nightcap or after work windown, and in one of Auckland most popular night clubbing spots, its worth checking out on a big night out.

The Goyzer bar

You can’t visit Auckland, or Epsom for that matter, and not try some of our many dumpling son offer, it’s no argument that Auckland has the best dumplings on offer in the country. And luckily for you a new bar has opened up that mix both dump.ings with drinking!

The Gyoza Bar is the ultimate dynamic duo—dumplings and cocktails. Found on Ponsonby road, this foodie haven specialises in the famed crunchy yet fluffy gyoza dumpling, a trend currently taking the world by storm. Add some sake, cocktails and fine wine to the mix and you’ve got yourself one heck of a night out!

Your Guide to February

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The the sun still out and the days still long, there is still plenty to get out and enjoy this month, and if you are coming to visit us in the city of sails, we have you covered with some handy hints on what to get up to while you stay:

Hidden 2019

One for he youthful rave culture lovers out there, This new single-stage festival will be set outdoors in the middle of Ellerslie Racecourse on Friday, 22 February. After having successful runs across the ditch, this festival is. Asking it’s way to Auckland, and will Feature the likes of trap rapper Lil Yachty, US producer Kayzo and local drum and bass legends Shapeshifter. Also appearing on the hip hop and bass-heavy bill is Florida rapper Ski Mask The Slump God, UK trap producer TroyBoi, Los Angeles producer Cray, UK dubstep trio Gentlemens Club and Atlanta rapper J.I.D. If you are wanting a night out to remember (or have fuzzy memories off, depending on what you drink) this one is for you.

Gibbs Farm Sculptor Park Visit

If raving isn’t your thing, and your taste in culture leans more to art, then we have just the thing for you. The Gibbs Farm sculptor park is usually closed to the public, but  will once again open its gates this February to raise funds for Auckland Art Gallery.

The 400ha farm, privately owned by New Zealand businessman Alan Gibbs, is an expansive open-air sculpture park that boasts the greatest collection of large-scale outdoor artworks in the country — most of which are site specific commissions by some of the world’s most renowned artists. Major works include Anish Kapoor’s giant red horned ‘Dismemberment, Site 1’, Marijke de Goey’s ‘Tango Dancers’, Len Lye’s second kinetic ‘Wind Wand’ installation, and Leon van den Eijkel’s huge concrete cube structure ‘Red Cloud Confrontation in Landscape’.

If you decide to join the February 16 open day, you will be given free rein of the park for three to four hours, have the opportunity to be introduced to selected artworks by those in the know from Auckland Art Gallery, and come face-to-face with the exotic animals that occupy the farm.

City of Ales

NOw if you are fan of locally made craft beers and want to make the most of this summer sun, then boy do we have a treat for you. 2019’s edition of City of Ales will see 20 of the best regional breweries landing in Auckland for the day of elbow bending — with rarer breweries like McLeods, Brewaucracy, Craftwork and Kainui bringing in their hard to find, boutique craft beers for the event. Meanwhile, Sweatshop Brew Kitchen has made a special, barrel-aged and “funky” brew just for the festival. One to try, for sure.

Anti-Valentines

No a fan of this corporate holiday. Would you rather spend it in one of Aucklands most quirky and fun museums? Look no further friends! Western Springs’ beloved museum of transportation and technology is hosting an event for those just not that into the idea of Valentine’s Day. On February 14, Visitors are invited to explore the museum grounds which will be scattered with food stands, bars, activations and a main stage performance area. A variety of entertainment, activities, and general shenanigans will feature, from silent discos and karaoke to archery, jousting and live music.

Night of Laughs – Exploring the Classic

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Auckland is known as the hub of New Zealand comedy, most of the comedians you see brace our small screens are mainly based in Auckland, and you are very likely to catch the. Doing a set at Auckland famous Classic Comedy bar.

The iconic Queen Street venue showcases New Zealand’s top and up-and-coming comedians. There are even open-mic nights in case you wanted to try the stage out for yourself. Here, you’ll spend the night drinking and laughing, and no, you won’t be disappointed. So let’s have a look at your options throughout the week:

Monday – Raw Comedy Night

There’s nothing quite like an open mic comedy night, where you can witness some of the cities freshest faces in comedy trying out new material that lands and sometimes misses. You can also try your hand at comedy and sign up yourself, trust me when I say that giving stand up comedy a try is a certain type of adrenaline rush! So grab a few beers from the bar and sit in for a night of uncertainty.

Tuesday

Tuesday either has a a show featuring an established comedian, or a selection of established comedians, or is otherwise closed.

Wednesday – Big Wednesday

Fifteen dollars to see over ten comedians in one night? Look no further than the classics big Wednesday where you get to witness a showcase of up and coming local talent. Wednesday’s can also have shows running in other rooms with established comedians, so it’s worth checking the weeks program for more details!

Thursday – Pro Night

Pro night has been running since 1997 and for $20 you get an evening with some of New Zealand top comedians, it’s even cheaper if you bring a group in, which we highly recommend, it the perfect way to start you night off: drinks and giggles.

Friday/Saturday – classic comedy all Stars and live and late.

Friday and Saturday nights are packed for the weekend, you can usually find some established comedian on tour but you can also grab some tickets to the established nights. The first being a two hour show that features top comedians, the Comedy All-Stars is hailed as the main event of the week and is a great steal for $30 and as always, it’s cheaper as a group! If you are looking for some real late night giggles look no further than the Live and Late show which is described as alternative comedy late at night. This kicks of at 10pm and tickets are $15.