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christmas in the city feature

Lights, Camels, Action! Christmas in the City

Amanda Whitley

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

With the Christmas Tree officially lit and the SIDS & Kids ACT lights blinking beautifully every night, the city is coming alive with festive cheer…and things are set to get a whole lot ho-ho-hotter, with a host of events to be rolled out in the City in the lead up to Christmas.

Starting this Friday, Christmas in the City – Canberra Celebrates will celebrate 12 Days of Christmas – a festive celebration with something for everyone! Get the full schedule or read on for the highlights!


Last year, SIDS & Kids ACT broke the Guinness World Record™ for the Largest LED Light Image Display in the World with an incredible 1,194,380 lights. In 2105, Canberra has once again made history with the SIDS & Kids ACT Christmas Lights in the City breaking the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title for the most number of lights on an artificial Christmas tree.

With 518,838 lights the Canberra Christmas tree and lights tunnel brings a magical presence to the CBD.



Everybody loves a good market – especially at Christmas. The Christmas Night Markets and Taste Canberra will be held from 3pm across the twelve days of Christmas (from Friday 11 to Wednesday 23 December).

You’ll find everything from on-the-spot Christmas card photographs through to handcrafted jewellery, vintage accessories and elegant homewares at the Christmas Night Markets, and to fill your belly there’s a great range of cuisines: Egyptian, Greek, Turkish, Vietnamese, Thai, modern Australian and German. There is also a boutique brewery, a pop up winery and a margarita bar, as well as traditional lemonade and fresh squeezed juices.  Oh, and did we mention waffle on a stick, a ‘smores station, caramel apples and churros?


You can also take a stroll down Santa Claus Lane and delight in a plaza topped by giant Santa hats and filled with festive music. Write your letter to Santa at Kids Land and post it in Santa’s special mail box. There will be guest appearances by Santa and his lovely wife Mrs Claus on Saturday 12, Sunday 13, Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 December.

If the little ones need some respite from Christmas shopping, they can get busy with the Christmas crafts in the Kids Activity Hub. There’s Sand Art, Story Time, Scratch Art and more!


camels christmas in the city

Channel your inner wise man and grab yourself a camel for a scenic stroll around the magical Canberra Christmas tree…or get up close and personal with some furry friends!

Starting on Friday 11 December both the Noah’s Ark farm friends animal farm and the Camels in the City will create a fun attraction near the amazing Canberra Christmas tree and the entry to the Canberra Centre.

Interact with friendly, healthy and loved animals such as bunnies, chickens, lambs, pigs, and goats or take a majestic ride atop a camel and see the City from new heights. Camels are $5 per ride and children under 8 are free. Entry to the ACT Eden Monaro Cancer Support Group Petting Farm is a gold coin donation.


The Health Hub at Christmas in the City is all about promoting active living and healthy lifestyles! Get the kids up and moving these school holidays with an array of activities and special guests.

Looking for a flipping good time this Christmas Season? You’ll find it in Garema Place from Friday 11 December when Flip Out returns to the city centre, open from 3pm to 8pm everyday until 23 December. It costs $5 for 10 minutes and is for 12 year olds or younger.

In addition to Flip Out, you can also get active with Tennis ACT, Mustang Gridiron, Fitness First, Canberra Raiders, lululemon athletica Canberra and more!


Christmas shopping isn’t usually something that people associate with relaxation, but Canberra Centre are doing their best to make shopping a form of retail therapy during their extended trading hours.

Customers can celebrate the season with a glass of bubbly at the Pamper Parlour outside Nespresso on the Ground Level. From 4pm to 9pm on Friday 11 and 18 December, you can expect to be treated to hand massages, make-up trials and more – special experiences to prepare you for your night out.

Until Tuesday 15 December, Australian typography artist Gemma O’Brien will take over a space in the centre to bring #thatchristmasfeeling to life. You can find her on the Ground Level, in between Nine West and Bailey Nelson.

The floors of Canberra Centre will be bustling with Christmas music and festivities with the beautiful voices of The Stilettos, Canberra Chordsmen, String Theory Quartet, The Choral Society, Sweet Affair, and a pianist and harpist for soft tunes to put you in the Christmas mood. Performance times are available at

From Saturday 12 December to Thursday 24 December, presents will be wrapped for a gold coin donation with all proceeds being donated to SIDS and Kids ACT. Customers can also receive VIP treatment from a team of porters who will help carry their gifts to their car and provide directions.


Pavilion X is a site specific temporary installation in Garema Place designed and built by University of Canberra architecture students. It is an interactive light and sound-scape that can be explored at night or in daylight. Conceived as a catalyst for conversations about urban renewal, public space and aspirations for the city, communal furniture has been situated under the trees in response to observing that the existing benches are individual and often unused.

The public are invited to occupy the pavilion throughout December. Garema Place, Petrie Plaza and City Walk, along with Civic Square, being the public spaces of Civic, are its heart. Share how you would like to use public space and your hopes for the future of Civic using the hashtag #GaremaOurPlace.


Amanda Whitley

Amanda Whitley is the founder and director of HerCanberra. In her 'spare time', she instructs zumba, loves to cook (and eat), and wrangles two gorgeous little girls. She's done everything from present the tv news to operate a stop and go sign and is passionate about connecting Canberra women. More about the Author

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