Festive fun as East Street sparkles

Published: 29 November 2023

Ashburton’s big Christmas tree is putting a sparkle on the town’s CBD at night, following a street party to officially kick off the festive season.

Light up the Night attracted about 5000, and the huge crowd sang and danced with entertainers on an open-air stage beside the tree after it was officially lit by Wakanui School student Felicity Varlow.

Felicity won a competition through Light up the Night sponsor Hokonui to flick the switch, which she did to much applause and cheering.

Mayor Neil Brown said it was a terrific night, with sunshine instead of the wet weather that had been forecast during the week. “It was so good to see everyone gathered together in front of the tree. There were people of all ages, and lots of families, and plenty of smiles, so the vibe was really positive.”

The Life Dance Academy performed several energetic routines and music was provided by the Ashburton Silver Band, the Ashburton Samoan Christian Congregational Church choir and Ashburton College’s student rock band No Sleep at Work.

Mayor Brown said it was awesome to see the local talent on stage so well received by the big and happy crowd. MC for the night was Peter Mac, from Hokonui.

“Thanks also to the crew from the Ashburton Event Centre for their light and sound skills, and to Santa and his elves for making a special trip.”

Food trucks were parked on East Street a short distance away and catered to a steady flow of diners enjoying the festive occasion, and a craft activity station run by the Mid Canterbury Children's Day Trust also had lots of visitors.

Mayor Brown said he hoped that people left the free community event feeling good about the festive season ahead.

“We spend a lot of the summer working on our roads, water and waste, so it was nice to be able to do something really fun for the community and spread some free, Christmas cheer.”

Council is also hosting a free outdoor screening of the Christmas movie Arthur Christmas in the Ashburton Domain picnicground, off Elizabeth and Grigg Streets, on Saturday 9 December, with the venue open from 6pm.

See more at Lightupthenight.co.nz

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