Christmas parades in Christchurch

Christmas parades have delighted local people since the 1930s. This page has information and images relating to the history of Christmas parades in Christchurch. For information on current Christmas celebrations and events see our Christmas in Christchurch page.

Santa float, Hay's Christmas parade
Santa float, Hay's Christmas parade [197-?] CCL Img ARCH812-27

2023 Santa Parades

2008 New Brighton Christmas Parade  2009 Christchurch Santa Parade

T. J. Armstrong

In the 1930s, T. J. Armstrong & Co created floats for parades. They also had a Toyland inside their High Street shop (situated where the CPIT Jazz School now stands).

One parade used an elephant, a gimmick used elsewhere when the circus came to town.

The Hay’s Parade

According to the official Santa Parade website the Christchurch Santa Parade was started by well-known retailer James Hay in 1947. His son, Sir Hamish Hay, in his autobiography, puts the year at 1948.

Hay's Junior League float [1950]
Aunt Haysl and Hay's Junior League float, Hay's Ltd Christmas pageant, Christchurch, Hay’s Ltd Christmas pageant Christchurch City Libraries Archive collection, CCL-Arch978-1-018


The Hay’s Parade was a popular annual event for families. The Hay’s retail store had a dedicated children’s playground, Hay’s Roof, for many years.

Aunt Haysl

For many years the Hay’s Santa Parade featured the popular character Aunt Haysl. There were four Aunt Haysls, but the best-known was Edna Neville, who retired from the role in 1981.

Christchurch City Libraries has an archive of Aunt Haysl material known as the Aunt Haysl papers, which were compiled by Edna Neville. You can explore our Papers index for newspaper articles about Aunt Haysl.

New Brighton Christmas Parades

Audio: When did the New Brighton Christmas parade start? Nicole talks to New Brighton locals at the 2019 parade and then interviews Martha Baxendell of the New Brighton Project.

The New Brighton Library team takes part in the parade every year. Here are some photos from previous parades.

Photos of Christmas parades

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