Things to do  |  4 Aug 2020

A new-look Christchurch City Council public events programme will get under way in September.

Council Events and Arts Manager Lucy Blackmore says the rejuvenated programme acknowledges the need for change in a post-COVID-19 events environment and has been created in partnership with the community.

“We had already been looking at changes to our annual events programme and talking to key partners and interested people and groups. However, the pandemic has fast-tracked this rethink,” Ms Blackmore says.

“It is the biggest revamp the community events programme has undergone for many years.”

Two of the major changes include Sparks taking a break in 2021 and the New Brighton Fireworks Spectacular moving permanently from November to July.

The planning period for Sparks – usually held in February each year – was severely affected by the pandemic lockdown. However, the much-loved event will return in 2022.

In 2021, Symphony in the City – featuring three shows over three weekends by the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra in Victoria Square – will be held instead of Sparks.

Ms Blackmore says moving the fireworks to July will both mark Matariki and launch KidsFest.

All three events will fall under an Ōtautahi Winter Festival umbrella.

“Matariki celebrations have been identified through consultation with the community as being important to Christchurch residents who want to celebrate New Zealand’s own unique culture,” she says.

“Holding the fireworks earlier in an evening will also mean that families don’t need to be out so late and allow people to visit New Brighton restaurants and cafes before or after the show.”

A community event, The Walking Festival, will move from this October to April next year.

The changed-up programme includes a new event, Go Live! Festival, which will celebrate the city’s music scene and put the spotlight on more than 30 local acts and 100 performers at 10 indoor and outdoor venues across Christchurch.

Ms Blackmore says the programme refresh provides more certainty for events, lifts central city activity to support the economy, ensures a cost-effective programme and delivers more diverse events to capture a wider audience.

“The changes also offer more programme flexibility, if required,” she says.

“They support a more agile approach to our events programme so that we can quickly respond to any changes in pandemic alert levels.”

The 2020-21 programme highlights include: 

  • The Go Live! Festival celebrating local music from Thursday, 24 September until Saturday, 3 October this year.
  • A New Year’s Eve concert special in North Hagley Park, featuring a highly anticipated headline band.
  • The Summer Series Symphony in the City, featuring the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra performing three concerts in Victoria Square early next year.
  • The Summer Series Lazy Sundays, Kite Day and Summer Theatre.
  • The Walking Festival in April next year.
  • A new Ōtautahi Winter Festival that will entertain people with lights, performance, visual arts and stargazing – incorporating a lighting event similar to CHCH IS LIT. The latter ran in July 2020 to help fill the gap created by the postponement of Botanic D’Lights. The new lighting event will run in the central city and New Brighton from June next year and feature more significant lighting and trails than this year.
  • The New Brighton Fireworks in July, marking Matariki and launching KidsFest while also sitting under the Ōtautahi Winter Festival umbrella.