Christchurch Show Day is observed annually on the second Friday after the first Tuesday in November. This year, that date is on November 17 and is all about celebrating Canterbury’s independence, as well as the New Zealand Agricultural Show.
History of Christchurch Show Day
We’re sure at this moment you may be thinking about how two very different observances came to be on the same date. Well, it all started when the Pilgrims came to town. These were the first English settlers in the province, transported in four ships from Plymouth, England to start their new homes in Canterbury. These ships have now come to be known as the First Four Ships, while the first colonists or settlers are known as the Canterbury Pilgrims.
Two of the four ships — the “Charlotte Jane” and the “Randolph” — arrived in Canterbury on December 16, 1850, and for over 100 years, this was the official anniversary date of Canterbury Province. The New Zealand Holidays Act allows each locality in the country to celebrate its own Provincial Anniversary Day, often marked by the landing day of its first settlers, and although the old provincial system was abolished in 1876, the laws of this Act still stand to date.
The New Zealand Agricultural Show, formerly known as the Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Show (CAPA Show), is the biggest agriculture and pastoral show in New Zealand and has been celebrated since 1862. This unique blend of agriculture and entertainment is held in the central city of Canterbury — Christchurch.
Years after its inception, the CAPA Show was rebranded as the People’s Day or Show Day and was set on the second Friday after the first Tuesday in November to give competitors and exhibitors a platform to display their latest innovations in agriculture. In the 1950s, the Christchurch City Council moved Canterbury Anniversary Day to fall on the same day as the show to allow banks and businesses to close and attend the show.
Christchurch Show Day timeline
The first two ships of English settlers arrive at Canterbury Province.
The Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Show becomes known as People’s Day or Show Day.
Canterbury Anniversary Day is moved to the same day as Show Day.
The Canterbury A&P Association rebrands Show Day as the New Zealand Agricultural Show.
Christchurch Show Day FAQs
How long does the New Zealand Agricultural Show last?
What used to be a one-day annual event, has now become an extensive three-day event packed with competitions, exhibitions, and fun activities. The show runs from Wednesday to the second Friday after the first Tuesday in November. This allows the activities to crest with the Canterbury Anniversary Day.
What made Christchurch the first official city in New Zealand?
Christchurch is not the first town that was founded in New Zealand, but it is the first official city, and the reason might not be what you expect. This geographical area was officially considered a city when the first cathedral, Christchurch Cathedral, started being built in 1864.
Why is the New Zealand Agricultural Show set on the second Friday after the first Tuesday in November?
The show is set on that specific day so that it doesn’t interfere with the Melbourne Cup, Australia’s most famous annual Thoroughbred horse race, held on the first Tuesday in November. It is organized as part of the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival which is observed from late October into November.
Christchurch Show Day Activities
Attend the show
If you find yourself within the Canterbury area on this day, the best thing to do is see for yourself. It’s a public holiday for the entire state, so take some time off with the citizens to enjoy the festivities. It is usually held at the Canterbury Agricultural Park in Wigram, Christchurch.
Take a city tour
Another great way to mark the day is by taking in the sites of the city. There are many activities to enjoy in the city of Canterbury, such as hiking, mountain biking, white-water rafting, and hiking. Take a tour of the city and see what adventures you can get up to.
Learn about their history
There is a lot more to learn about the First Four Ships, the New Zealand Agricultural Show, Canterbury, and New Zealand as a whole. Take some time out today to visit their museums or do your research. Share your findings with friends across your social media platforms.
5 Facts About Christchurch And Canterbury
There are two anniversary dates
North and central Canterbury celebrate their anniversary on the A&P Show Day, while South Canterbury observes Dominion Day on the fourth Monday of September.
It was the first city
Christchurch became the first city in New Zealand on July 31, 1856.
One of the biggest city parks
Hagley Park is the third biggest city park in the world.
It had the worst fire disaster
New Zealand’s worst fire disaster so far happened in Christchurch in 1947.
It’s named after a college
The city is named after Christ Church college in Oxford, England, which is where one of its founding fathers, John Robert Godley went to school.
Why We Love Christchurch Show Day
It’s packed with history
We love a good historical monument, and Christchurch Show Day is packed with it. This day is all about important parts of the history of the citizens of Canterbury and deserves to be acknowledged and celebrated as such.
It encourages agriculture
Not only does the day serve as a reminder of the foundations for the people of Canterbury, but it is also an important event for all things agricultural. It celebrates the efforts and the innovation of individuals in the field and encourages the agricultural and pastoral path in others.
It’s two times the fun
Who doesn’t love a great combination? Christchurch Show Day combines two very different observances into one festive occasion, creating twice the excitement and festivities.
Christchurch Show Day dates