Nelson City Council has opted for an ‘alert level proof’ Christmas celebration this year, taking the decision to hold a number of smaller events over the entire month of December rather than a Santa Parade.

Organised in conjunction with Uniquely Nelson, events will begin in late November and take place over four weeks. 

For the young ones, Santa and his elves will be ready and waiting for the all-important photo op at Santa’s Grotto. 

The young and young-at-heart will be able to write letters to Santa and post them in Santa’s mailbox, and there will be other events featuring games, carol singing, music and competitions.

Older Christmas enthusiasts can look forward to lunchtime ‘Christmas Nibbles and Notes’ sessions at the Nelson Cathedral, held in association with the Nelson Centre of Musical Arts, roving carol singers and performances of The Nutcracker Ballet. 

And there’s a gift for shoppers too – people shopping or dining at participating outlets will be in with a chance to win $5000.

Councillor and Community Services Chair Matt Lawrey said that while lots of Nelsonians look forward to the Santa Parade, there were too many concerns around the potential for changes in the COVID-19 alert level.

“The way things have been going in 2020 it would be just our luck to plan a parade and then have to cancel it. It’s obviously disappointing, but Santa and Christmas will still be coming to the city with smaller, more frequent events that will be more resilient to changes in alert levels and won’t draw big crowds all at once.”

Council wanted to bring Christmas cheer to Nelson in a way that was as safe as possible, while still giving people opportunities to celebrate in our City Centre, he said.

“We hope the range of fun, festive events will also draw more people into town over a longer period of time, giving them more opportunities to support our local businesses and enjoy our central city.”

More festive season details, activities and events will be announced in the coming months.

A full list of events and a timetable will be available online at Be sure to check back regularly as new events are added