24 Nov 2019

Santa Claus is coming to town

9:17 am on 24 November 2019

Auckland's biggest Christmas parade will take place today.

A giant Santa on Queen Street overlooks shoppers crossing the road in the Auckland Central City.

Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

Thousands of people are expected to attend Farmer's annual santa parade, which is in its 86th year.

Many roads in the central city, including Queen and Victoria Streets, will be closed for most of the day because of the event, which starts at 1pm.

Auckland transport has advised people heading to the parade by train not to take balloons on board or to stations because of the overhead lines.

This year's parade will also be last for the city's five-storey-high santa that stands on the corner of the Farmers building.

It was announced earlier this year that after 60 years, the giant santa would head into retirement.

Its owner, business association Heart of the City, said restoration work was needed and there were also challenges around the large structure's storage.

Earlier this year Auckland council's tourism and events company, ATEED, decided last year that the parade did not meet its funding criteria of bringing overnight visitors to the city.

Elected councillors voted to overturn the decision.

About 95 percent of the parade is funded by commercial sponsorship.

Last year's parade was postponded due to bad weather for the first time in 20 years.

The weather is expected to be fine in Auckland today.