First Thursdays Christchurch is a free, all ages arts and entertainment event that takes place twice a year in Sydenham. We bring pop up exhibitions, live music, night markets, food trucks and much more to create a bustling night of art and creativity for everyone.

With an aim to celebrate and rejuvenate Sydenham while supporting and engaging with local businesses and artists. We offer opportunities to a wide range of creatives - from emerging to established practitioners - through group exhibitions and commissioning new, site specific works.

Each programme has a different theme and boasts upwards of 20 events taking place all around the neighbourhood between the hours of 5pm - 9pm for a one night only art extravaganza.  First Thursdays Chch brings together: live music, a famous night market, pop up installations, group exhibitions, late night shopping, poetry, performance, video and more depending on the theme. Our events take place in winter and summer - with the summer months being ideal for including food trucks and outdoor elements.

First Thursdays Christchurch was established by Art Beat, and Art Beat was established by Arts Voice in 2012 to provide opportunities for Christchurch based artists to work and develop their practice, and to encourage artists to remain in the city. In its commitment to proactively engage audiences in public spaces, Art Beat was seen as an opportunity to reconsider how the arts are experienced in Christchurch.

The First Thursdays Christchurch team was originally comprised of the Art Beat team - a group of artists and administrators representing a range of practices. Hera Hjartardottir and Fledge - an artist and production company representing a variety of Christchurch musicians; Wongi & Emma Wilson - a graffiti artist and team delivering high quality street art experiences; Audrey Baldwin and The Social - an artist and fine arts group seeking new ways to present contemporary art in public spaces with an emphasis on installation, performance and public interaction. 

The event was developed with the support of First Thursdays K Road.

Since 2012 Art Beat has presented music, public art, exhibitions, installations, performance and events in the inner city over the summer months, and attracted residents and visitors to the inner city, received national and international attention, and raised perceptions of Christchurch as a city that is vital and creative.  

At the end of the 2014 Summer programme it was agreed that Art Beat establish a First Thursdays programme of arts activities in the Sydenham business district. First Thursdays is a globally successful event in which arts organizations within a precinct or city, collectively open for one evening, creating an arts event unique to that district. The global model has been adapted to suit the environment in Christchurch, to align with the objectives of Art Beat, and to build relationships between business and the arts while revitalizing and building stronger communities in and around Sydenham.

This event is not for profit and is made possible with generous support and engagement from the Sydenham Business community and a number of other supporters and sponsors. Our key sponsors are:

The Colombo

Pablo at 383

The Christchurch City Council

BNS Design and Print