Central city businesses have reaped the benefits of thousands of people visiting the annual lantern festival in the heart of Christchurch.
The Christchurch Lantern Festival was held in the city for the first time in seven years, drawing massive crowds keen to see the Ōtākaro Avon River Precinct lit up by hundreds of lanterns, watch world-class entertainers perform and sample traditional Chinese food.
An estimated 55,000 people attended the two-day event, with the city also busy on Saturday due to the one-day international cricket match between the Black Caps and England at Hagley Oval.
Businesses based in Hereford Street and along the river front reported large numbers coming in their doors on Saturday and Sunday.
“Patrons were saying how good it was to see people back in the city. I’ve lived in Christchurch for a year now and this was the busiest it’s ever been. It will be great to have more of these events, so people realise the city is back up and running.”Katie Wybrant - Original Sin Duty Manager
Burger Fuel store manager Anita Walker says they had sold twice as many burgers on Saturday than they usually would and had called extra staff into work.
“It was great to see so many people coming back into the city.”
Original Sin duty manager Katie Wybrant says the restaurant had double the diners it usually did on a Sunday.
“Patrons were saying how good it was to see people back in the city. I’ve lived in Christchurch for a year now and this was the busiest it’s ever been. It will be great to have more of these events, so people realise the city is back up and running.”
The Craft Embassy director Seth Hamilton says the festival is the type of event needed to reinvigorate the central city.
“It certainly brought a lot of people and vibrancy to the area. We actually shut off our music and just enjoyed the music coming from the stage down by the river and the atmosphere the festival created.”
ChristchurchNZ Chief Executive Joanna Norris says Christchurch people have a huge appetite for events both big and small and the Lantern Festival demonstrated just how valuable these are to a vibrant central city.
“Events have a huge economic and social impact drawing residents and visitors into the city. This is good for the city’s vibrancy and economy. Reconnecting people with the central city is important for the city’s ongoing recovery.”
“As we work with the Christchurch City Council to roll out the city’s Major Event Strategy, residents can expect more high-quality events and excitement like they saw this weekend.”
Joanna says all the feedback the promotion’s agency received about the event would be used to shape next year’s festival.
“Some people found it was too busy. We will work to ensure people can move easily around the lanterns, food and entertainment.”
The success of the Christchurch Lantern Festival, which originally started in 2005, was expanded upon for 2018 to further develop the city’s relationship with China. This year, events engaging the city’s business and student communities were held.
The fully subscribed South Island Lantern Business Forum, held on Friday 9 March, attracted 160 business and organisational leaders that work with, or intend to work with, China. The workshops which followed the forum were outcome focused and provided key takeaways for attendees to implement within their own businesses.
All attendees that responded to feedback forms agreed they found the forum valuable and would recommend it to a colleague, business partner or friend.
The international student welcome event, held on Friday 9 March, attracted 750 people including new students, international education staff and homestay families. Students came from China, as well as Chile, Agentina, Kenya, Brazil and Sri Lanka to name a few.
Additional events to sit under a wider Lantern Christchurch banner are being explored for 2019.
Major partners that worked with ChristchurchNZ to put on this year’s Lantern Festival included Christchurch City Council, Bank of China, Novo Advertising, Christchurch International Airport and Asia New Zealand Foundation.