Getting into the spirit of Christmas in Christchurch

You may have already turned your attention to the festive season, to family, food and good-old fashioned fun. If you are not feeling particularly festive yet there are plenty of other events planned in the build-up to Christmas that are bound to help you welcome in the Yuletide spirit. 

Latimer Square is the new destination for Christmas in Christchurch this year. The festivities at the Square kick off this Saturday, 8 December, with carols and the lighting of the 375,000 lights on the 7 storey high Telecom Tree. The tree will light up each night over the Christmas period until Boxing Day. The fun culminates on Christmas Eve with Carols by Candlelight from 9pm, a Christchurch Christmas institution that celebrates its 65th anniversary this year. The Telecom Tree is interactive - you can try your hand at lighting design by checking out the Telecom Tree website and creating a design for the tree lights. Select a time and day that you will be at Latimer Square and then watch the tree light up with your creation!

If you are a Christmasy person and love making crafts this time of year, you’ll enjoy the Encraftment markets also planned to feature as part of Christmas at Latimer. On Friday 14 December from 5-8pm and Saturday 15 December from 10am-3pm you can head along to Latimer Square to experience A Very Christchurch Christmas Encraftment Market and do some Christmas shopping.

The Christchurch Symphony Orchestra’s annual Christmas offering is the Leighs Construction/Ballantynes CSO Christmas Concert. There’s nothing like a hearty dose of carol singing to make you feel in the mood for Christmas – head along to the CBS Arena on Saturday 15 December and you’ll be sure to hear many of your favourites and get the chance to sing-along. In an effort to emulate the magic of European Christmas markets, there are twilight markets scheduled in the week leading up to Christmas at Riccarton Bush. From Monday 17 December until Friday 21 December there will be a market every evening at Riccarton House from 4 – 7pm, with a wide variety of stalls offering arts, crafts and food as well as live entertainment. Why not enjoy Christmas shopping in a relaxed environment, perhaps with a glass of Pimms.

For parents who are looking for something to entertain the kids in the busy days before Christmas or need to finish their Christmas shopping, the Airforce Museum is offering a childrens’ programme entitled Christmas at the Airforce Museum from Monday 17 – Friday 21 December. The programme, tailored for children aged 5-12, will be based around the 12 Days of Christmas and is packed with interactive activities including craft-making, outdoor games and scavenger hunts. Contact the Airforce Museum for more details. Re:START Mall in the Central City is abuzz with Christmas fever, with a number of late nights planned in the build-up to Christmas to help you finish off your shopping without having to rush. A Night in Re:START on Friday 14 December is the first of these extended days, with shops open until 9pm. Other late nights are Wednesday 19, Thursday 20 and Friday 21 December from 10am until 9pm, Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 December 10am until 6pm and Monday 24 December from 10am until 5pm. The kids can tell Santa their Christmas wishlists in person at Santa's Grotto in Ballantynes each day between 10am and 4pm.