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All that jazz: Big Band Festival

Dust off your dancing shoes because the Christchurch Big Band Festival is gearing up for its 14th annual musical extravaganza this Labour weekend. Through rain, shine, earthquakes and now a global pandemic; the sweet sounds of smooth jazz will be gracing the city’s ears during the unique five-day music festival.



Performers from all over New Zealand will flood in, followed by hundreds of partners and supporters, for the much-anticipated event. Riverside Market, Salt (Evolution) Square, the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, Tūranga Library, and many more quintessential Canterbury locations will serve as the backdrop for 24 mini concerts.

Run by the community for the community, it is an event for everyone to enjoy whether you are part of the swing dance community, a proud parent or supporter, jazz enthusiast or a curious passer-by.

A new and unique feature this year is the debut of the Big Band Ball at Welles Street on Sunday October 25. For $40 you can get your swing on and dance the night away to three amazing big bands.

Continuous canapes and a cash bar will equal a great night – and perhaps some sore feet for the famous big band picnic the following day.

The festival runs from October 22 to 26, 2020, with something for all ages from early child to the retired. For more information about the festival, programme or ticketed events visit the festival website.


Pub in the Hub: Welles Street

“It’s going to be a winter wonderland here,” Tom Newfield says of the Welles Street Winter Fest from 8 to 14 July. “Every night of the week, there’ll be something different happening. It’s been something we’ve wanted to do for a long time, so we’re very excited!”



With a jam-packed agenda featuring mulled wine and cider, a pop-up European beer tent in the heart of the pub, live music, comedy acts, trivia quizzes, competitions, a fondue night and a spit roast in the beer garden, this will be an unforgettable festival.

Local singer and songwriter, Jed Parsons, entertains on the Saturday night, while Sunday heralds something of a first for Christchurch – a European-style market inside Welles Street (yes, inside the pub!) with premium European beers, wines, gourmet cheeses and other delectable nosh for sale.



“Welles Street follows in the tradition of those inner-city pubs found in places like Melbourne and London. There’s a great neighbourhood vibe here; it’s family oriented – a place where you can come as you are, bring the kids, the dog and relax. Our menu offers everything from pub classics to rotisserie chicken and Mediterranean influences; it’s food made for sharing – big meals that are tasty and flavoursome,” Tom says.

Welles Street Winter Fest is free entry, open daily from 11am all week. Mark it on the calendar then round up your mates. Find it at 44 Welles Street, phone 03 366 0172 or email Open 7 days, 11am until late.


First is more: First Table

Eating out is a luxury, so discovering new dining experiences with limited ‘fun-funds’ can often feel risky for restaurant-goers. First Table reduces the financial risk of trying somewhere new by offering an incentive to dine early, creating a win-win experience for foodies and restaurants alike.



If you haven’t heard of it yet, First Table is an online restaurant booking platform. The concept was inspired by a Queenstown-based restaurant which offered a 50 percent deal on the first table of the night as a local’s secret. Crowds attracted crowds and the rest is history.

Food lovers booking on First Table get half price at affiliated restaurants. You pay a $10 booking fee to reserve a table for two to four people and receive 50 percent off the food bill. The catch? There really isn’t much of one, just that the available reservation times are restricted to the ‘first table’ of breakfast, lunch or dinner, while drinks are full price. It’s a must for those devoted to sampling the best of their city’s cuisine!

Rooted in New Zealand, it’s exciting to see First Table expand to other parts of the world including Australia, the UK, Ireland, and Indonesia. Check out which Christchurch-based restaurants are available for booking at Leave a review of your experience and you’ll have the chance to win Review of the Week and $50 First Table credit.

Pictured is Welles Street, one of Christchurch’s many superb food places that operates through First Table.