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How to get merry (for free) in Canberra

Monika Damcevska and Calum Stenning

Tis the season to be jolly. 

But hey, it’s also the season to balance your books and budget for Christmas gifts so there’s no shame in wanting to know how to enjoy the festive season without overspending.

Here’s our guide to free and inexpensive ways to celebrate the season in Canberra!

Christmas Fun at the Tuggeranong Hyperdome

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The Hyperdeer!

They’ve got lots of free Christmas-themed fun for the kids at the Hyperdome. From balloon sculpting, face paint and glitter tattoos to Christmas craft, Christmas cooking and Christmas stockings, there’s fun for all ages – click here for all the details!

There’s also Gingerbread demonstrations and workshops with Zumbo’s Just Desserts runner-up Ali King, click here for times and to reserve your place!

Join in and count down the weeks to Christmas in the Kids’ Corner next to Target.

Where: Tuggeranong Hyperdome, Anketell Street, Tuggeranong
Cost: Free
Find more information: Here

Christmas Shopping at Ori, Lonsdale Street

Shoppers at the P.E National launch at Rebel Muse

Shoppers at the P.E National launch at Rebel Muse

Live music, an art show, and a plethora of festive offerings from the Ori building family.

We recommend browsing Tinker and Tailor, Rebel Muse, Hive and iskip itrip before indulging in a cooling scoop from Frugii.

When: Thursday 1 December, 5.30pm – 8pm
Where: The Ori Building, Lonsdale Street

THE 12 BARKS OF CHRISTMAS CAROLS

This year RSPCA ACT are hosting the FURST ever 12 Barks of Christmas Carols to get your family, including the four-legged canine kind, to kick off the festive season.

Sing along to choirs and bands and indulge in delicious food and drinks from markets and treat your pooch to some cute Christmas gifts from the RSPCA ACT Retail Stall! Best of all, all proceeds go towards the animals in care at the RSPCA ACT shelter.

Pre-booking your tickets online is the best way to guarantee your entry on the night. Limited tickets are available so make sure to book now!

Tickets available here: www.thankq.net.au/event/v305/eventdetail.aspx?ref=4876565676083828&event=con12b001

When: Sunday 4 December from 4pm – 7pm

Location: Amphitheatre, National Arboretum Canberra, Forest Dr, Canberra.

Cost: From $13.00

Handmade Christmas Market 2016

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Shop Canberra’s award winning Handmade Market which brings together talented artists, designers, stylists, craftspeople and gourmets all under one roof. Find that unique gift from the region.

The Handmade Market will showcase over 220 Australian designer/makers. All products on sale at the Handmade Market are Australian made and designed. Shop at Handmade to support Australian designers and find something unique, well priced and meet the maker.

Read more about it here.

When: 10 – 11 December
Location: Exhibition Park in Canberra
Cost: Free entry

SANTA’S WINTER WONDERLAND AT CANBERRA OUTLET CENTRE

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The Canberra Outlet Centre is making Christmas extra fun for the little ones! From 12 to 23 December, children will have the opportunity to meet Mrs Clause and participate in fun activities including making their own Christmas bauble for the tree.

Watch it snow every half hour!

Where: Canberra Outlet Centre, 337 Canberra Avenue, Fyshwick
When: Santa’s Winter Wonderland will be open from 11am to 2pm from 12-23 December

Meeting Place Markets

Evening shopping at the Fitters Workshop, with handmade and vintage sellers from the ACT.

When: Friday 2 December, 4.30pm – 9pm
Where: Fitters Workshop, Kingston

Santa’s Breakfast at Westfield Belconnen

Treat your kids to a breakfast with Mr. and Mrs Claus, where they can meet the Christmas couple, and enjoy a Christmas show afterwards. All proceeds go to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance.

When: Saturday 3 December, 8am – 9am
Where: Westfield Belconnen’s Centre Court
Cost: $10/child

CHRISTMAS PINE FOREST AT CANBERRA CENTRE

Canberra Centre Christmas tree

Canberra Centre are creating an enchanting Christmas Pine Forrest as a special Christmas Treat this year. Decked out in Christmas decorations, a maze of pine trees will keep the kids entertained. Throughout the maze there will be writing stations, where the kids can stop and write their letters to Santa.

At the end of the maze, there is a grand mailbox where they will be able to send their letters direct to the North Pole.

Where: Canberra Centre. The pine forest is located on level 1 near Country Road
When: The maze will be open until December 27
Cost: Free

Christmas at Westfield Woden

Westfield Woden is the gift that keeps on giving this Christmas, with regular events running from the 25 November (the first of two pet photography events, for those with fur babies), until the Christmas Eve (the last of 10 gift-wrapping efforts – anyone?). Bring your non-fur babies to cookie, Christmas stocking or bauble decorating workshops, and enjoy appearances from your favourite Christmas characters.

When: From 25 November – 24 December
Where: Westfield Woden, Keltie Street, Woden

Tuggeranong Salvos Carols in Town Park

Mark your calendar, pack a picnic blanket and be there early to claim your spot for a great family night celebrating Christmas with the Tuggeranong community. The Salvation Army’s Carols in Town Park celebrates the Christmas Story and will be featuring Amber Nichols (from The Voice), Katie de Veau, Natalie May (Ventriloquist), The Salvation Army’s National Capital Band, the Tuggeranong Salvation Army Timbrels and local Choir.

When: Sunday 18 December 2016, from 5pm
Location: Tuggeranong Park
Cost: Free  

Bilk Gallery’s Annual Christmas Exhibition

Showcasing the best of Australian Decorative Art and Design, Bilk’s annual Christmas exhibition focusses on special gifts exclusive to Bilk Canberra.

This collection represents new works in glass, silver and gold all are unique and beautiful. The works we have on display are varied in scale and price and this is a perfect opportunity to gift that individual piece that is achievable for all. We have one off collectable and unique pieces including beautiful new rings, glass flowers, whisky and sake glass sets, earrings of all designs in many colours, beautiful necklaces and so much more.

When: 19 November – 24 December (10am – 4pm)
Where: Bilk Gallery, 12 Palmerston Lane, Griffith

Carols by Candlelight at Rodney’s

Enjoy traditional carols by candlelight amongst the plants at Rodney’s Plants Plus.

The café will be open for dinner too (bookings through the website), if you wanted to make an evening of it!

When: Thursday 8 December
Where: Rodney’s, 24 Beltana Rd, Pialligo

Christmas in the City Concert

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The Christmas in the City concert will be in front of the Christmas In The City Christmas Tree on Friday 16 December on City Walk and Shannon Noll will be headlining!

The concert will feature great sounds, big screens and a custom built stage fit for the occasion.

When: Friday 16 December
Location: City Walk, Civic

Christmas Food Markets

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The Christmas Food Markets in Civic Square will be a foodies’ dream, featuring a number of delicious culinary themed nights over the course of the week such as Burgers and Beers, Sweet Treats, Cocktails and Canapés and Street Food.

The food markets will also feature an awesome entertainment line-up of live music and competitions for the most daring. Visitors can come day and night, as Canberrans and their guests are encouraged to chill out in the week leading up to Christmas Day.

When: 16-24 Dec
Location: Civic Square
Cost: Entry is by donation to Sids and Kids 

Christmas Handcrafted Gifts and Arts Markets

Next to the food markets, along Ainslie Place, will be the inaugural Christmas Handcrafted Gifts and Arts Markets, offering a variety of unique local stallholders under a canopy of fairy lights.

When: 16-24 Dec
Location: Ainslie Place
Cost: Entry is by donation to Sids and Kids 

Sparrow-Folk: A Very Nestie Christmas

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Join the Aussie “sirens of satire” Sparrow-Folk as they unwrap a Xmas celebration of epic proportion. These two birds know how to throw a party and they have opened the Nest for all to join in the Xmas cheer. Following their five-star sell-out success across the country, Fox and Lark return to Canberra with a brand new cheeky Xmas show, featuring original songs and full of frivolity for a strictly limited season.

Catch these two birds under the mistletoe and kick-start the silly season in adorkable style.

Venue: Street 2, The Street Theatre
Dates: 1 – 3 December, 2016
Tickets: $25 (Full), $27 (Group 4+), $25 (conc.)
Bookings:  thestreet.org.au

Yarralumla Does Christmas

Family friendly concert and picnic to celebrate the end of year and Christmas season hosted by the Yarralumla Residents Association.

When: Saturday 17 December 2016
Location: Weston Park, Yarralumla
Cost: Free admission 

Have we missed your event? If you have a low cost or free Christmas community event, email us at [email protected].

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Monika Damcevska

Monika is a 23-year-old Canberra O.G., born and bred in the Nation's Capital. She is a lover of food, wine, coffee and travel (not in any particular order) and can usually be found hip-hopping around, enjoying all of the above. Follow Mon on Instagram (@moanme) for a glimpse into her day-to-day shenanigans. More about the Author

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Calum Stenning

Calum Stenning is Her Canberra’s newest and most male (read: only) intern. Three years spent living overseas has given him a renewed appreciation for Canberra life. Every day starts with coffee and the Sydney Morning Herald crossword at a favourite coffee haunt, as he is wary of the perils of dementia, and thinks crosswords are a viable safeguard. If he lives to a dementia-appropriate age (evidence says he won’t), he’ll let us know. More about the Author

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