TOP SECRET: Nelson artist Mike Ward and mayor Rachel Reese look at the yet-to-be-revealed designs for this year’s Christmas display in the CBD. Photo: Kate Russell.

Christmas decoration surprise under wraps

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Designs may be under wraps for now, but Nelson’s CBD looks to be in for a cracker of a Christmas.

“Hearts, flowers, love and generosity” with an environmental focus is the theme that Nelson artist Mike Ward has dreamed up for this year’s $100,000 city Christmas display.

“Uniquely Kiwi” and “very Nelson” are all he and Mayor Rachel Reese will reveal about the decorations until they go up at the end of November.

It’s a stark contrast to last year, when the city council was accused of forgetting Christmas – with just a few measly banners and a small Christmas tree on the church steps.

And although the council have pulled the plug on a public-designed Christmas tree competition for the church steps, there will be plenty of street banners and even a wilding Douglas Fir from the Maitai Valley to bring the festive spirit to town.

A smaller version of the preferred design from the Christmas tree competition, which only attracted eight artist entries, will now be displayed in the Christ Church Cathedral.

“Feedback from the arts selection panel was that there wasn’t enough time to full develop the Christmas tree concepts into actual artworks – it was a really big ask in that period of time,” says Rachel.

Mike says he has engaged with “at least half a dozen” local artists on the designs, which he says will portray the “things we like to do and experience in our lovely city”.

Decorations will be concentrated in the CBD, including the cathedral, church steps, Upper Trafalgar St down to Civic House and Bridge and Hardy Sts bounded by Collingwood and Rutherford Sts.

The Norfolk Pine in Tahuna will be lit as per usual and options for Stoke are also being considered. “We’re very keen to do something in Stoke,” says Rachel. “We really want this to feel like a Nelson Christmas and we hope this year creates a platform for us to build on for the future.”