Wellington’s Oriental Parade lit up for Wellington’s Christmas celebrations in previous years.
The centrepiece of the capital’s Christmas celebrations is the latest Covid-19 casualty on the events calendar.
The Wellington City Council announced on Wednesday that the A Very Welly Christmas festival was “taking a year off due to Covid uncertainty”.
A council spokeswoman said in its place there will be “lots of events and activities celebrating the festive season”.
City events manager Suzanne Tamaki said events and venues had “taken a bit of a battering this year with cancellations, postponements and capacity restrictions, but adapting and adjusting to the conditions is part of the job”.
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“In what would’ve been the event’s 6th year, organisers have regrettably made the difficult decision to put this year’s event on ice as unpredictable Covid restrictions impact the planning of major festivals.”
The festival, which closes off Lambton Quay to traffic for the two-day event, had been scheduled for the last weekend in November. Organisers were now working through logistics and opportunities to ensure a different kind of Christmas cheer will ring around the capital come December, she said.
Plans for the festivities were yet to be confirmed, but would resemble 2020’s Love Local campaign with pop-up shops, banners, dressed up storefronts, and incentives to encourage Christmas shopping and activities in the city.
“Health and safety is key, and also supporting the many organisations and industries that are struggling around the city. But we also want to provide fun and entertainment for the whole whānau to enjoy – and we are aiming to deliver an experience that ticks all those boxes.”
Wellington Chamber of Commerce chief executive Simon Arcus said businesses were disappointed to lose such a key event in the capital and hoped it wouldn’t happen again.
“Let’s hope that this is the last time Christmas gets cancelled.”
“There are little touch points as you go through the covid journey that can hit people quite hard, and I think this is one of those things that reminds people we are not in a normal state.”
He expected most of the chamber’s members would “largely understand” the council’s reasoning behind cancelling the event’s schedule.
“The silver lining may be that when we do get it back, it will be something we make even better use of.”
Arcus said they would be keen to know was the council’s plans are for other events during the festive season.
The council said more information would be announced when plans were confirmed next month.
Wellington mayor Andy Foster said he was very proud of the council team who were busy reimagining this year’s Christmas festivities “with a priority on the city’s safety and well-being given COVID is still very much a threat to our lives”.
“I have every confidence that early in the new year given the determined success of Super Shot Saturday, coupled with high rates of vaccinations, we will see the return of our favourite events.
“Right now, our focus is on loving local and if you haven’t already, Take Two for the Team as Wellington spends Christmas in our stellar shops, cafes, restaurants, and bars, and supporting the city’s arts sector,” Foster said.