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Christmas at the Museum 2023Christchurch Cit Creative Communities Logo

Imagine stepping back in history into a colonial lounge or settler’s cottage at Christmas time.

The tradition of decorating our houses with greenery at Christmas was brought to New Zealand by British settlers. Today, it is hard to imagine a Kiwi summer Christmas without the trees and mistletoe wreaths popularised by Queen Victoria.

From 3 December 2023 – 13 January 2024, Okains Bay Museum will feature displays of Christmas trees throughout the museum’s buildings and collections spaces. You’ll be transported back in time to a Christmas night over 100 years ago, with uniquely designed trees decorated by talented local artists and craftspeople.

202 and 2023 Events supported by Creative Communities.


Opening Night for the Okains Bay Community:8pm,  Saturday 2 December

Free evening entry to the Museum and the Christmas Tree Display on opening night.

  • Tree Displays Installed 10 am – 3 pm: the trees will be set up by the decorators. The Museum will be open as usual.
  • Tree Lighting from 8:00 pm: at sunset, carols will fill the Museum to herald in the Festive Season at Okains Bay. Visitors are invited to wander through the museum buildings to view the displays and join in with Christmas songs. Bring a torch. Children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult.

Design and Decorate a Tree

Local and creative communities are invited to take part. For the inaugural event in 2021, the museum featured 14 displays contributed by artists from Okains to Australia. This year we hope to top that with even more displays.

Designers will be supplied with an undecorated artificial tree (approx. 6 feet high). Live trees are not suitable for a museum environment as they can introduce pests. No organic materials are to be used for the decorations for the same reason.

Each display will carry information about the designer, their inspiration and their theme. The public may vote for their favourite display.

What’s Involved: 

1: Choose a theme

It might be linked to your group or organisation, or the part of the museum collection where your tree will be displayed. For instance, the museum has collection areas focused on musical instruments, colonial home life, blacksmithing, local ANZACs, saddlery and lots more!

2: Design Your Tree

Be creative as you like. Remember to include lights! (The museum does have a limited number of decorations and lights available.)  Please note that due to the museum environment it is not possible to use decorations that may attract pests, such as dried fruits or food items.

3: Decorate Your Tree at the Museum

This can happen at a time during the day of the event. You are welcome to stay and join in the evening.

4: Disassemble your Tree in the New Year.

Museum staff will be available to help or do this for you. As we have staff based in Christchurch and the Peninsula, we may be able to return your decorations to you to save a trip. If this is the case, please let us know.

Register Here: (free to take part)
Xmas at the Museum

Photos of 2021 and 2022 Christmas Displays by Howard Pettigrew and Wendy Riley