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The Antarctic Festival takes a break in 2009

11 September 2008

The Christchurch Antarctic Festival, snowballing to become the biggest and best ever in 2008, will take a hiatus in 2009.

“We need the break to put in place the 10-year plan designed for the Festival to evolve into a stronger, more focussed and extensively engaged event in 2010 and beyond,” says Festival coordinator and Christchurch City Council’s Events Development Manager, Jo Blair. “It is our intention to turn Christchurch into the most celebrated gateway to Antarctica in the world.”

“It is time to take this to another level,” she says. The next level includes putting a greater international perspective to the Festival and combining it with making science in Antarctica more accessible to everyone.

“We would like to make Antarctica a permanent place in the hearts and minds of everyone in New Zealand,” says Shirley Johnson, Christchurch City Council’s Civic & International Relations Manager. Ms Johnson is focussing on getting more countries and more scientists involved in the Festival, and joining forces with the University of Canterbury in putting together an annual International Science Conference at the new-gen Festival where “the best scientists connected with Antarctica can expound on all aspects of science and research related to the continent”.

In a first, Christchurch is exhibiting Tasmania’s Antarctic Mid Winter Festival Photo Competition Winners at the Wild Earth Gallery, Antarctic House at this month’s Festival. The New Zealand Antarctic Festival 10-year plan, put together by the Christchurch City Council, is in its final stages and will be ready to be implemented in early 2010.

Meanwhile, Mrs Blair says the 2008 Christchurch Antarctic Festival, which starts on September 26, is jammed-packed with events related to every aspect of Antarctica: scientific, social and surreal. “We have outdone ourselves with the range of activities this year and are offering something for everyone with the more than 30 activities during the Week,” says Mrs Blair.

The largest event is the Antarctic Ice-Capade at the Christchurch International Airport and International Antarctic Centre on September 27 and 28. Highlights include a tour of the USAF C-17 Globemaster III airlifter, two RNZAF Hercules and other Antarctic venues.

Professor Donald Rothwell,an Australian expert on international law issues, will hold a lecture on challenges of responding to Japanese Whaling in Antarctica aboard the historic Lyttelton tugboat on Lyttleton Harbour on October 3 while Dr Sergio Marenssi, director of the Argentina Antarctic Institute and Vice President of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) will hold a public lecture in the Town Hall.

In keeping with the Antarctica theme, the Antarctic Heritage Trust has arranged a special one-off screening of Scott of the Antarctic, a 1948 drama based on Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s 1911 race for the South Pole on September 27 at Warner’s Hotel. And the ‘Snowball’ Theatre, a giant snowball screen hovering in the Cathedral Square, will feature Sir Edmund Hillary’s Trans - Antarctic Expedition (1955-58) as well as the animated family movie ‘HAPPY FEET’ on September 26

The snowball screen will again feature in the live video link from to Christchurch to Scott Base on Antarctica on Friday September 26, 11.30 am - 1.30 pm at our City O-Tautahi

Lyttelton, which has hosted the last leg of many expeditions to the continent for nearly a century, will mark the start of the Festival with Lyttelton on Ice: a series of community events celebrating the port’s significance as a key departure point to the Antarctic.


Exhibitions during the Festival include:


Erebus Chalice on Ice - an image of the Erebus Chalice will be carved into a large block of ice and sit in the main entry foyer of the Cathedral. Monday September 29, Christ Church Cathedral,

The Big Bergs  – images and stories of Christchurch’s ‘Antarcticans’ through portraits, memorabilia, interviews and short movies. Monday September  15 –October 11, Our City O-Tautahi, cnr Worcester Blvd and Oxford Tce

AA Deans: Antarctic Stories - Canterbury artist A.A Deans’s talks of the time when he visited Antarctica for three weeks in 1981, includes sketching, watercolour paintings and photographs compiled during his stay. Festival start until Sunday 5th October, Phillip Carter Family Auditorium, Christchurch Art Gallery

Conversations Across Time – Antarctica - students from the Hagley Writer’s Institute showcase their stories inspired by the Canterbury Museum’s Antarctic collection. Saturday September 6 – Sunday, November 30, Antarctic Gallery, Canterbury Museum

Andris Apse Exhibition: Icy Images  - Fantastic Images by Andris Apse, world recognised landscape photographer based in Westland. Monday September 15 – Saturday October 11,

Our City O-Tautahi, cnr Worcester Blvd and Oxford Tce

Tasmania’s Antarctic Mid Winter Festival Photo Competition Winners - Extreme Antarctic photography from Hobart’s 2008 Antarctic Mid Winter Festival. Saturday September 27 – Friday October 3, Wild Earth Gallery, Antarctic House

Lyttelton on Ice – Photographic Exhibition - A tribute to Lyttelton’s heritage links with Antarctic explorations. Saturday September 27 – Friday October 3

Lyttelton Information Centre, 20 Oxford Tce, Lyttelton

Sub-Antarctic Flora Exhibition - Rebecca Bowater’s award winning photos of the Sub-Antarctic Islands’ flora. Friday September 26 – October 4, Townend Conservatory, Cunningham House, Christchurch Botanic Gardens.

For full programme details, please check our website


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