For the Love of Travel
For the Love of Travel

Blooming in Christchurch

The spring social calendar is blooming with signature events and festivities in Christchurch, writes Mike Yardley.

Party time is blooming in Christchurch. From headline events and festivals to horse racing and gigs, fashion shows and public gatherings to sports and entertainment. If it’s happening in spring, it’s BLOOM. BLOOM is the banner name for the sparkling assortment of events on the spring social calendar in Christchurch. And the time-honoured headliner underpinning proceedings is The Show.

NZ Agricultural Show. Credit A&P Show

The New Zealand Agricultural Show follows in the footsteps of 159 years of proud history, bringing an enduring touch of tradition to the city and celebrating all that is great about rural life. Formed in 1862, the Canterbury A&P Association presides over New Zealand’s largest A&P show. The beloved three-day annual extravaganza kicks off on Wednesday November 10. Over 100,000 visitors flock through the gates of the Agricultural Park for this annual country comes to town outing. A vast array of competitions showcase the best of the best in livestock, equestrian and feature competitors. The sheep shearing, woodchopping, Canterbury’s Strongest, Shetland steeplechase and endurocross competitions are always big crowd favourites.

Livestock on parade. Credit A&P show

As is the Carnival area and Hazlett’s Farmyard. There’s even a Sheep Maternity ward, with 50 pregnant ewes ready to give birth over the three days of the Show, so you watch baby lambs take their very first steps. The daily Dog Trails is always entertaining. Duck Herding (dog trialling with Pekin ducks instead of sheep) at lunchtime is a thrill-fest not to be missed. I also love the Ballantynes Grand Parade, a lively showcase of the livestock and equestrian prize winners, led out by a pipe band. The Livestock Parade is always a thrill because you never know how well behaved the cattle, llamas, alpacas, and goats are going to be on parade.

Show attractions. Credit A&P Show

November wouldn’t be November in Christchurch without the horses. Whether it’s the gallops or the trots, New Zealand’s premier race week turns the spotlight on Riccarton and Addington. At Riccarton Park, Cup Week is a Canterbury social highlight, featuring high-class racing, fashion, food and entertainment across three magnificent days, November 6, 10 and 13. The feverishly contested Fashion in the Field takes place on Riccarton Park’s Tea House Lawn on the final race day, dovetailing with NZ Cup Day.

Fashion in the Field. Credit Belinda Lansley Photography

Across at Addington, harness racing hits the big time with Cup Week, with two days of spectacular racing, including the NZ Trotting Cup on Tuesday November 9. Entertainment, fashion, great food and wine are all part of the action. Hello Lindaeur Lawn!

NZ Trotting Cup. Credit Addington Raceway

In addition to the NZ Agricultural Show and the champion horse racing at Riccarton and Addington, an exciting new addition to Bloom’s calendar of festivities is the South Island Moon Festival. This is Christchurch’s newest cultural event which will illuminate the city, with a lavish display of art, lanterns, performances and food. The festival will be staged in mid-November, building on the success of the South Island Lantern Festival. C-Pop, K-Pop, fire-breathing dragons, Christchurch’s biggest-ever Karaoke stage and a giant moon are all part of mix.

Dragon lantern. Credit ChristchurchNZ

Moon festivals are a traditional time of celebration in China and many East Asian communities, where families gather to watch the full moon, eat moon cakes and recite moon poems. The inaugural festival in Christchurch will put a very Kiwi-twist on this Asian pastime. It’s the lantern displays that will be front and centre of the South Island Moon Festival, strung along the Avon River and City Promenade.

City Promenade – ChristchurchNZ

A sure-fire crowd-pleaser will be The Dragon’s Den in Victoria Square. Traditional dragon lanterns will be animated by explosive performances from flame twirlers and fire breathers. The square will also host a slew of food trucks and market stalls, with crispy treats from across the world to tempt the tastebuds. Slurp your noodles while you soak up the atmosphere and the powerful on-stage performances. And what about that giant full moon? Over 7.5 metres high, an enormous, scale model of the full moon will take pride of place at The Commons. Created by a company that specialises in film props, the Moon will sit at the heart of the South Island Moon Festival.

NZ Trotting Cup. Credit Addington Raceway

Get you fill of festive fun with BLOOM in Christchurch, your base camp for wider exploration. From seasonal festivities and botanical delights to world-beating walks and the highest mountains, unleash your spirit of adventure in Canterbury. For more inspiration, head to