Central city, History & heritage  |  07 Oct 2019

Spring fairs, a rare glimpse inside an historic mansion undergoing restoration, and the chance to explore heritage hot spots in the central city are some of the highlights of this year’s Beca Christchurch Heritage Festival.

The theme of the Heritage Festival, which opens today and runs until 28 October,  is “Encounter Our Stories”.

Christchurch City Council Head of Urban Design, Regeneration and Heritage Carolyn Ingles says the three-week festival has expanded from what used to be an annual heritage week, in a sign of its growing popularity.

“This  diverse programme of activities and events is a great opportunity for people to get together this Spring, enjoy themselves, and find out more about the stories of our past.” 

  • One of the first events is Family Fun at the Arts Centre on Tuesday 8 October, a perfect day out for the second week of the school holidays. The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora will host three activity stations to get the whole family feeling creative.
  • Explore the rich cultural heritage of Ōtautahi Christchurch with What’s the Story?, a central city activity trail for families at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū, Tūranga (Central Library), Canterbury Museum and Christchurch Botanic Gardens Te Māra Huaota o Waipapa, running throughout the festival.
  • Tūranga will host a Family History Fun Day on Saturday 12 October with events and activities for all ages, including local storyteller Margaret Copland performing at 11am.  
  • Make the short drive over to Banks Peninsula for Akaroa FrenchFest from 11 to 13 October. Take a tour of the Akaroa Lighthouse or join a Historic Akaroa Cemetery Tour.  
  • For an in-depth look at Māori architecture and landscapes in Ōtautahi Christchurch, join an all-day bus tour on 20 October.  Visit Rāpaki marae, University of Canterbury and Ara Institute of Canterbury buildings, and inner city public spaces and buildings.  Bookings are required. 
  • There’s a rare opportunity for the public to step inside McLean’s Mansion, at 387 Manchester St, a Category 1/Highly Significant heritage building and one of New Zealand’s largest timber houses, on 26, 27 and 28 October. It will be open for strictly guided tours to show what the restoration project has achieved so far. Bookings are required.
  • Other festival events over Labour Weekend include the popular Orton Bradley Park Spring Fair on Sunday 27 October and the Hororata Parish Spring Fair at the Hororata Domain on Monday 28 October (Labour Day) with pony rides, vintage and classic car rides, a country auction and children’s races.

For more information on the Beca Christchurch Heritage Festival, check out the online programme or pick up a guide from local libraries, service centres or cafes.