THE 85th annual Credit Union Christmas Pageant will take place on Saturday morning through the streets of Adelaide, with more than 320,000 people expected to welcome Father Christmas to town.

The Pageant is Australia's answer to New York's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and is the most-attended single-day event in the southern hemisphere.

Saturday's event marks exactly 85 years since the first pageant on 18 November 1933, which featured just eight floats and four bands. 

That day, Sir Edward Hayward blew the gold whistle to start the Pageant, and in keeping with that tradition, Saturday's parade will be officially started by his great nephew. 

"The only other place in the world you can see a spectacle like this is in New York, so South Australians should be proud to have this free, much-loved event on their doorstep," says South Australia's Minister for Tourism Leon Bignell.

"The Credit Union Christmas Pageant is one of the best community events in Australia and the second biggest pageant of its kind in the world. 

"The Pageant has brought the magic of Christmas to children and adults alike since 1933 and holds a special place in the hearts of South Australians [and] every year hundreds of thousands of people from all over the state line the city streets to celebrate the start of the festive season – with many more watching at home around the country.

"South Australia has a well-earned reputation for hosting major events and this is one of the biggest on our calendar, helping to contribute to our record $6.3 billion visitor economy.

"It wouldn’t be possible without the support of our credit union sponsors as well as the hard work and dedication of an army of volunteers."

The 2017 running of the event will be started by 85 pipers and 85 highland dancers leading the parade down King William Street. 

As well as several new floats will be old favourites throughout the day, brought to life by many community groups and volunteers from across the state.

"This year’s event is all about celebrating 85 years since the first Pageant," says Pageant director Brian Gilbertson.

"The 2017 Credit Union Christmas Pageant will be brighter and louder than ever before with the parade starting with 85 pipers and 85 highland dancers to start the milestone celebrations.

"[And] 2017 will see five new floats that add to the colour and excitement. Look out for 85 Years Let’s Celebrate, The Soft Toys, The Royal Christmas Ball, Counting Down to Christmas and Christmas Party Time which are sure all to become new fan favourites."

The Credit Union Christmas Pageant continues to be given major support by four credit unions operating in South Australia - People's Choice Credit Union, Beyond Bank, Credit Union SA and Police Credit Union. 

2017 marks the 22nd year that the credit unions have supported the event, according to Robert Keogh, chair of the Credit Union Pageant Company.

"The coming together of the credit unions - People’s Choice Credit Union, Beyond Bank Australia, Credit Union SA and Police Credit Union - to support the event, is symbolic of the true meaning of community," says Mr Keogh.

"The credit unions will mark the Pageant’s 85th milestone by celebrating an event milestone of their own. This year we celebrate 22 years as the naming rights partner of this magnificent community event.

"We’re proud to be part of making the magic happen and bringing the Pageant to the South Australian community, creating even more memories of this special day for those who either line the streets or watch it from home."

The Credit Union Christmas Pageant commences at 9:30am, with Father Christmas due to arrive at the Magic Cave at David Jones at 11:45am. 

The Credit Union Christmas Pageant is owned and managed by the South Australian Government and is sponsored by People’s Choice Credit Union, Beyond Bank Australia, Credit Union SA and Police Credit Union. 

More Credit Union Christmas Pageant Information