Alone in Christchurch on Christmas: how to celebrate?
December 23, 2010 3:57 PM   Subscribe

What should a lone traveler do to celebrate Christmas in a strange city? (in this case, Christchurch, New Zealand?)

I'm passing through Christchurch on my way to do some fieldwork, and it appears I will be arriving there early in the afternoon on Christmas Day. At first I was pleased that my Christmas wasn't going to simply disappear as I crossed the International Date Line, but then I realized that a) most everything will be closed when I get there, and b) I have no idea how best to celebrate Christmas as a lone traveler in a strange city.

Any suggestions? I'm interested in both general ideas for things to do when you're traveling alone on a family-centered holiday, and specific recommendations for Christchurch. (It'd be nice to find a Catholic mass I could attend, but at least in the States most Christmas services seem to be in the morning. I'd settle for any sort of gathering where everybody gets to sing.)
posted by fermion to Travel & Transportation around Christchurch, New Zealand (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You don't mention where you're going to be staying, but a good bet would be to get a room at a youth hostel (even if you're not a youth!). You'll meet other people who are in the same situation and want a sense of community. I had a great Christmas and New Years traveling alone in Australia a few years ago.
posted by auto-correct at 4:05 PM on December 23, 2010

Best answer: The very lovely Christchurch Cathedral (Anglican, not Catholic) will be having Evensong at 5:30 pm on Christmas.

For what it's worth, I found people quite friendly when I was in Christchurch on my own several years ago; I wound up having a picnic with someone I struck up a random conversation with in the park, and was invited to join a couple of meals with people when they saw I was solo. So maybe that's just a recommendation to be friendly and see what happens?
posted by scody at 4:05 PM on December 23, 2010

I haven't been there in a while, but I would expect that the Christchurch Cathedral will be having services all through the day. (From memory, the services are probably intended to be non-denominational so that people such as yourself will feel welcome. I think the services there are normally Anglican).

You can find a Catholic mass in the afternoon in a Catholic church or cathedral, and you can find times and places ahead of time here
posted by -harlequin- at 4:11 PM on December 23, 2010

Response by poster: I'm staying at a slightly stuffy B&B, but I can definitely track down a youth hostel.

Scody, that Evensong service looks really neat. Do you know if it's participatory singing, or just performance?
posted by fermion at 9:09 PM on December 23, 2010

Yes, staying at a hostel is a great way to meet up with others. I spent one wonderful Xmas at a New Zealand hostel having a BBQ with fellow travellers. I'll never forget it!

I really liked Foley Towers Backpackers in Christchurch. It's big but cozy, and there should be something going on for Christmas there. And of course, you should check out Christchurch Cathedral!
posted by exquisite_deluxe at 10:11 PM on December 23, 2010

you should savor being on your own this often is this going to happen? and in such a wonderful, cool place!!! one of my MOST FAVORite CHRISTMASes ever was spent on my own in Chamonix in France, omg what a beautiful christmas that was, I did call home and find out how things were going, but i remember the beauty of the town, of the local Mass and having christmas dinner in a hostel with ten strangers. fun. wouldn't trade the experience for a 100 family filled xmases.
posted by dmbfan93 at 10:36 PM on December 23, 2010

Response by poster: I ended up going to the Festal Evensong service at the Cathedral--lovely.

I never did manage to find other transient types to hang out and be festive with; it turns out that all of the bars in Christchurch are closed on Christmas Day, due to some local ordinance or other, and none of the hostels I wandered past seemed to have gathering spaces that were open to non-residents. I should have stopped and introduced myself to one of the random passers-by who admired my XKCD shirt, but I guess I am still a bit too shy to be good at that sort of thing. Ah well.
posted by fermion at 2:00 AM on December 25, 2010

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