Although Christchurch is most commonly referred to as the Garden City, it could equally be nicknamed the Festival City - since year round we have built a reputation for some outstanding Festival events full of free concerts, exhibitions, shows and so much more.
We've brought together some of the city's best for you, including dates for the next year so you can start planning ahead - and of course booking your accommodation ahead of time!
Note that many of the festivals in Christchurch take place in North Hagley Park. Since parking can sometimes be a challenge, we suggest you catch a bus into the city from just outside the Park gates (Cranford Street side) and leave your transport/parking worries behind.
1) South Island Wine and Food Festival, 2 December 2017, North Hagley Park
The South Island Wine and Food Festival hosts 40 wineries from around the South Island – from boutique, single varietal producers through to best known performers in the South Island's wine industry, so you can sample a huge range of beautiful wines from Marlborough down to Otago and everywhere in between.
Find your perfect wine and food match at one of the gourmet food stalls, which will be serving up everything from fresh strawberries and ice-cream to fresher than fresh seafood. Or head over to one of the nine local restaurants for a meal to remember.
Festival features include the Wine Seminar Lounge, where top wine experts present a series of free seminars, complete with tastings. You can also catch some of NZ's top chefs demonstrating a range of dishes, live in the Cooking Theatre or just grab a glass and relax listening to the perfect music for chilling out in the sun. If you haven't already booked tickets, get online asap!
2) World Buskers Festival, 18 - 28 January 2018
Not every place in the world has a Buskers Festival, but Christchurch has one of the best anywhere, attracting street performers from around the globe and giving them the perfect venues to shine and have their skills appreciated.
This festival could well be considered the launching platform for kiwi performer Tapeface (finalist in America's Got Talent) formerly known as Boy with Tape on his Face. The range of performers include comedians, contortionists, burlesque, revues, and so many more. If you come to Christchurch for no other reason, coming to make the most of this 10 days in January is highly recommended. Tickets for the shows are being released already so start checking them out and booking your seats very soon so you don't miss out. Head over to the World Buskers website to get yourself booked in.
Even if you don't get into any of the paid shows, there will be free street performances around the city during the Festival - just have a handful of gold coins in your pockets to show your appreciation.
3) The Great Kiwi Beer Festival, 27 January 2018
The Great Kiwi Beer Festival is a celebration of the brewing industry in New Zealand, featuring a range of more than 300 local, national and international craft beers and ciders.
Sample a world of brews from diverse locales spanning Europe, to America to Asia and back to the best of NZ.
This event offers you a world of fantastic styles and flavours, enough to treat and delight everyone, even the most experienced of beer drinkers. Meet the brewers behind your favourite craft beer brands and try some special festival brews.
With live entertainment, cooking demos, seminars, brand experience areas, beer and food matching and much more, The Great Kiwi Beer Festival is the ultimate event for beer lovers.
4) Nostalgia Festival, 10 February 2018, Ferrymead Heritage Park
Nostalgia is a unique, day long festival celebrating music, food and culture all within the 1900s replica township of Ferrymead Heritage Park. Retro is Queen and if you love everything from decades past, you need to get yourself and your friends along to Nostalgia. The festival creates a bustling, eclectic atmosphere filled with local food, drink, entertainment, art and friends - with that retro twist.
Travel through the vintage festival environment while some of New Zealand’s top artists perform across two stages.
- Connan Mockasin
- The Chills
- Estere. Glass Vaults. The Swan Sisters
- Lisa Tomlins & The Presidents of Funk
Buy tickets in advance from the website (link above in the title) and make sure you don't miss out!
5) Night Noodle Markets, 9 - 18 February 2018, North Hagley Park
The very popular Night Noodle Markets are returning to Christchurch in February 2018 with the sights, sounds and tastes of Asian foods. The markets have been extended to 10 nights so you have double the time to have double the fun! Expect delicious street-style food, exciting entertainment and the hustle and bustle of an authentic pop-up Asian night market in North Hagley Park.
We’ve picked out the cream of the crop this year, with a selection of the best Asian street food on offer locally and from afar. Entry is free and all ages are welcome, so why not head on down after work and grab your favourite Asian delights for dinner.
Please note, there is no public parking available on Hagley Park we suggest you leave your car behind and use public transport, walk or ride your bike. The Night Noodle Markets will also be cashless so you will need to pay with credit card or EFTPOS.
Dates: Friday 9 - Sunday 18 February 2018. Trading hours: 5pm -10pm weekdays and 11.30am - 10pm on weekends.
6) Chinese New Year Parade, 25 February 2018, Cathedral Square
Join us in celebrating the Chinese New Year of the Dog with a parade starting from the Bridge of Remembrance. Come see pandas, dragons, lions and many traditional Chinese dancers presented by our talented local performers.
The parade will proceed along Cashel Street and Victoria Street before ending at Cathedral Square with more performances. The Christchurch Chinese New Year Parade Facebook page has more details on the parade and parade route.
7) Christchurch Lantern Festival, 10 - 11 March 2018, Otakaro Avon River Precinct
The Christchurch Lantern Festival returns bigger than before to celebrate the new Year of the Dog. Bring along your family and friends to experience Chinese culture through hundreds of vibrantly coloured lanterns including some new to Christchurch and New Zealand.
This is truly a magical event for everyone in the city featuring music, performance, dance, food and fireworks. The Lantern Festival has been part of the Chinese New Year celebrations since the Han Dynasty (206BC - 221AD). Usually held on the 15th day of the first month of the lunar calendar, it marks the end of New Year festivities.
There will be no public car parking available on Hagley Park. The Botanic Gardens Armagh Street car park will be closed to incoming traffic from 3pm on both days, with the exception of mobility card holders. Drop-off zones will be located on Park Terrace and Harper Ave.
8) Christchurch Holi - Festival of Colours, 17 March 2018, North Hagley Park
Holi is a day to forget your worries and connect with family and friends - just what Christchurch needs! Throw colourful powders and dance to music from various DJs. Enjoy traditional Indian games, cultural performances and festive Holi delicacies.
This traditional Indian holiday originates from folk stories, passed down through generations. Each region in India celebrates in its own way but Holi is widely recognised as a day to forgive, look ahead and celebrate with colours as a community.
Coincidentally, in 2018 Holi is on the same day as St Patricks Day - so you can be confident the organisers are taking this into account! Please see the Holi Facebook event page for updated information.
Tips for the day:
Wear old clothes as the colour may not wash out.
Wear comfortable flat shoes that you don't mind getting stained.
Bring cash to buy colour and enjoy delicious Holi food.
Parking is limited so plan your trip before the day.
*Please do not bring your own colours. Our colours are corn-flour based, non-toxic and cosmetic grade. They are safe for children and adults.
Entry to this festival is free* and Holi is strictly an alcohol and drug free event.
9) Christchurch Casino Golden Oldies Sports Celebration 2018, April
For the first time ever all 10 Golden Oldies sports will be held in the same city and in the same month. The sports are; Basketball, Cricket, Football, Golf, Hockey, Lawn Bowls, Netball, Rugby, Softball and Squash. Golden Oldies is about the love of the game and lives by the tenets of Fun, Friendship, Fraternity and overwhelming camaraderie. Golden Oldies Sport Festivals are open to anyone aged 35 and over who enjoy playing their chosen sport in friendly international competition.
10) Matariki, 15 June 2018
The appearance of the star cluster Pleiades or Seven Sisters in the north-eastern pre-dawn sky in late May/early June is one of the most significant celebrations on the Māori calendar and is becoming increasingly well-known throughout New Zealand.
Bring your whanau and join your community for wonderful celebrations and festivities.
11) Kids Fest, July 2018
This annual Festival happens during the winter (mid-year) school holidays and provides a great selection of holiday activities for children of all ages. We recommend bookmarking the Kids Fest website and signing up for their newsletter since the most popular activities get booked up very fast. Tickets go on sale each year from June 1st when the new brochure of activities is released.