2 Nov 2022

Future Grow Ōtautahi festivals cancelled

Flower video final frame

Dear Grow Ōtautahi partner,

It’s been 18 months since the inaugural Grow Ōtautahi Christchurch Garden Festival 2021 welcomed thousands of visitors from all over the region for a fantastic three days in the Botanic Gardens – I’d like to thank you once again for your help to make the festival such a brilliant success for the people of Christchurch.

As you know, the Christchurch Garden Festival Trust made the tough decision to call-off the 2022 festival due to lack of funding security and uncertainty as a result of Covid.

Now, for many of the same reasons, it is with regret that we have decided to halt all activities and wind up the Trust.

This decision has been made reluctantly, and after many months of consideration. Quite simply, we have not reached the required funding targets in time to enable us to plan for Grow Ōtautahi 2023 or beyond with confidence.

The Trust is extremely disappointed to have had to take these decisions. Grow Ōtautahi was a huge success in 2021, due to the passion of many sponsors, supporters and volunteers who contributed to the Festival, giving assistance and their time often for little or no financial reward. Around 25,000 people attended the 2021 Festival, following hours and hours of time and effort throughout the year from all the schools, designers, community groups, exhibitors, chefs and businesses who were involved.

The Trust believes this inaugural event was a success in meeting our objectives and in creating a base from which to grow a truly regional and national event. The feedback we had from both the community and industry participants was incredibly encouraging.

For certainty of future festivals, significant funding needs to be sourced from a major sponsor or partner before we can commit to further fundraising activity and holding the event to a sufficient scale and calibre. This has not proven possible.

There’s no doubt we faced our fair share of challenges throughout the life of Grow Ōtautahi, with the first planned event in 2020 cancelled just days out due to the Covid lockdown. Ongoing uncertainty made securing a major sponsor for 2021 a particular challenge but, despite Auckland being in lockdown and Covid limiting the number of national visitors to the event, we were able to put on a wonderful show.

Grow 2021 proved that a credible, successful garden festival can be held in Christchurch – in fact we believe that Christchurch needs a festival like this and we are disappointed for the city that we cannot continue. We hope that in future the concept can brought to life in some other way.

To do that, however, requires a major funding or sponsorship partner to make it happen for Christchurch. For a range of reasons we have not been able to achieve that right now and we’re gutted for everyone who loved the festival and looked forward to next time.

The Trust would like to once again acknowledge the hard work and support of everyone who pitched in to make Grow Ōtautahi a huge success. In particular, we would like to thank Christchurch City Council for ongoing support and the use of the fabulous Christchurch Botanic Gardens as our venue.

The contribution of everyone was very much appreciated and we’ve loved working with you.

Yours sincerely,

Sandi MacRae

Grow Ōtautahi Festival Director

On behalf of the

Christchurch Garden Festival Trust