The first agricultural show in Canterbury was held on 14 September 1859 at a farm by the Rangitata River. The agricultural show was first held in Christchurch in 1862 just north of Latimer Square. The Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Association was founded in 1863 and the association bought a showground in Sydenham which became Sydenham Park in 1894. When this site became too small, the Canterbury A&P Association bought a site in Addington.
By 1918, the Friday of Show Week had become People’s Day at the Show. Some time between 1955 and 1958, the official holiday for the anniversary day of the province was moved from 16 December (the date of the arrival of the First Four Ships) to People’s Day (the second Friday in November).