Christmas pageant now big Adelaide tradition started by Johnnies' Edward Hayward in 1933

Father Christmas arrives at the end of the 2018 Christmas Pageant through the streets of Adelaide city centre.

The Christmas pageant – the biggest parade of its kind in the world – is an Adelaide tradition born in 1933 from an idea of Mr Bill (Edward Hayward), chairman of John Martin’s department store.

The pageant has been staged every year (except during World War II) on the second Saturday morning of November.

Inspired by the Toronto Santa Claus Parade and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, Hayward decided to mark the lifting of the Depression – and only two years after the Beef Riots in Adelaide – with a parade of fairy tale and nursery rhyme characters leading Father Christmas to John Martin’s store.

From its start with just eight floats and four bands has grown into one of the world’s biggest pageants, attracting crowds up to 400,000 and televised nationally to millions more from 2015.

The pageant weaves through the Adelaide city centre along a 3.35km route, starting on King William Street on South Terrace and ending on North Terrace.

The 2018 parade had 63 floats,15 bands, 250-plus clowns, nine walking sets, 11 dance groups and four choirs. Floats such as Nipper and Nimble, from the earlier pageants, remain part of the tradition.

Also part of the pageant tradition are the pageant queen, king and princesses and princes. They tour the state visiting schools, libraries and children's groups as well as the Women's and Children's Hospital on pageant day to share the magic.

With the closing of John Martin’s in 1998, the pageant has been owned and managed by the state government, through the South Australian Tourism Commission and Events South Australia, and supported by the credit unions of South Australia for 23 years, with National Pharmacies taking naming rights in 2019.

Other related ADELAIDEAZ articles

Declining soil fertility and droughts set task for state department of agriculture from 1902

With declining soil fertility and drought, in 1875, a government commission recommended a department of agriculture but this didn’t happen until 1902. Besides its experimental farms, the department took over regulating agriculture industries, emphasising pest and disease control, productivity and soil conservation.  Post World War II, the department grew rapidly and collaborated with the Waite Agricultural Research Institute, Roseworthy Agricultural College, the CSIRO and others. 


Adelaide 500 wins multiple awards as Australia's biggest ticketed car race event

The Adelaide 500 continues to be the most successful V8 supercar race in Australia. Adelaide hosts the event every March, with four days of V8 Supercar racing on a shortened version of the street circuit used by the Formula One Australian Grand Prix (1985-95). The state government has secured Australia’s largest ticketed domestic motor sport event until 2021. In 2008, the 500 was attended by 291,400 people, the largest crowd for a domestic motorsport event in Australia.

Drill core library of 130 years of exploration in South Australia adds to geophysical data

The $32 million South Australia Drill Core Reference Library, at Tonsley Park, is part of the technical information support for the state’s mineral search. The drill core library has geological samples – equivalent to 7.5 million metres of drill core – from more than 130 years of exploration for minerals and energy in the state. A landmark three-dimensional geophysical model of the whole of South Australia to a depth of 100km is also at Holloway Geoscience 3D Theatre in the library.


Royal assent for laws a colonial hangover, with governor and cabinet as executive council

South Australia’s past as a British colony is reaffirmed in the final stages of laws passed today by its parliament. All laws still require the assent of the British monarch. In the Legislative Council of the South Australian parliament, the royal arms are carved into vice-regal British oak throne that has been used since 1855. The state governor heads the executive council, the formal arm of the government giving legal force to certain cabinet decisions, appointments and similar matters.


Adventurous to the end in development but Playford stays staunch social conservative

Tom Playford as premier was as socially conservative as he was brave in pushing development. A teetotaller, Playford fiercely advocated to maintain the policy, going back to 1912, that hotels should close at 6pm. South Australia was the last state to abandon it. Playford was fiercely anti gambling. Meanwhile, Playford was always adventurous in his vision for development. He encouraged Santos’s search for oil and gas and initiated the Metropolitan Adelaide Transport Study or MATS Plan.


SA's parliament house designed in 1874 but east wing not ready until 1939 – without dome

South Australa's Parliament House on North Terrace, Adelaide, is a long-awaited, but still incomplete, triumph of Greek revival architecture. Its winning design in 1874 by Edmund Wright and Lloyd Tayler, had later input from John Woods. The design featured Corinthian columns, impressive towers and a grand dome. Lack of funds saw the towers and dome removed from construction plans. The east wing was completed in 1939 through a £100,000 donation from John Langdon Bonython.


Contact Us

We welcome positive constructive feedback