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Canterbury's Biggest Party Count Down

The countdown to Canterbury's biggest party in 150 years has started.

And it is being held to mark Canterbury's 150th anniversary of the organised European settlement by the Canterbury Association.

Over the weekend of 15-17 December Turning Point 2000 has organised a huge variety of entertainment for all tastes and ages - and most of it will be free.

The weekend will kick off with The 1850 Ball to be held in Victoria Square from 8pm on Friday 15 December to 12.30am on Saturday 16 December. The Governor General, Sir Michael Hardie Boys, will lead a line-up of dignitaries who will arrive in a fleet of vintage cars.

Most of the guests will be wearing replica 1850 clothing, with women in gowns that can only be put on with the help of another person. Tickets are still available at $45 each and that includes entertainment, a glass of Lindaeur Special Reserve on arrival, and a buffet dinner.

On Saturday 16 December will be New Zealand's first major Son et Lumiere will be staged in Cathedral Square. Entitled Turning Point - a mua: a muri, it incorporates spectacular sound, light, performance and fireworks.

It will tell the story of Christchurch and Canterbury through the ages, its achievements and milestones. Actor and theatrical producer David McPhail has written the script that will require scores of actors.

Turning Point 2000's Chief Executive Rae Finlay says there will be plenty of surprises in the Son et Lumiere that will not be revealed until the night.

However, one hint is that the helicopter from New Zealand's newest frigate, Te Mana, will be included in the night entertainment.

The Son et Lumiere will start at 9.50pm after Canterbury Showcase at 8pm when local performers will pay musical tributes through the years.

Three big events will be held on Sunday 17 December. An anniversary civic service will be held in Cathedral Square at 10am and will include 45 minutes of brass band and choral music. The Cathedral bells will ring out and a new sculpture, the Risen Christ, will be unveiled at the service.

At 10.45am on Sunday the Grand Parade - living history - will start from Cathedral Square to the Botanic Gardens.

People, colour, costume, pageantry and music will be feature in the parade that will celebrate the province's heritage and diversity of community.

Along with cultural and ethnic groups, will be many other organisations and groups and the New Zealand Army and Navy bands.

Following the parade will be the Victorian Garden Party in the Botanic Gardens from noon until 5pm.

The Victorian theme will be everywhere in evidence in the gardens with roving performers, sideshows, punting on the Avon, and horse and cart rides.

Picnics can be taken although Devonshire tea and scones, cucumber sandwiches and cakes and sweets will be on sale.

Christchurch City Council http://www.ccc.govt.nz


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