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Winter Festival 2016

Sophia Bouzas

 There’s no point fighting it – winter in Canberra is well and truly underway.

So why not celebrate it instead? The National Portrait Gallery (NPG) has the right idea.

For the third year in a row, the NPG is throwing a free festival – the Winter Festival – dedicated to celebrating the winter season in Canberra. From 10am to 4pm on Sunday 7 August, the NPG will be transformed into a winter wonderland featuring larger than life ice sculptures, Etcetera Duo’s comedy show, live music and hands-on art activities.

“Braving the cold has never been so enjoyable – all activities except for the ice sculptures and smoking ceremony are inside where it is warm and cosy,” says Alana Sivell, Program Coordinator at the NPG. “The café will be ready with hot chocolates, winter comfort foods and a coffee cart for those needing some fuel.”


“This event should be in everyone’s diary – there is something for everyone and it is such a rare occasion to see huge lumps of ice be carved into with chainsaws and other tools to create beautiful portraits. This alone is such an interesting process to witness, there are always lots of ‘oooh’ and ‘aaahs’ coming from our visitors when [ice sculptor] Glenn Smith is in action.”

There is so much to do on the day but Alana says that the real highlight will be their knitting project that is being run alongside the St Vincent de Paul Society (Vinnies).

“Following on from our exciting community project last year of attempting to break the Guinness World Record for the longest line of pom-poms, we have once again asked the Canberra community to get involved,” explains Alana. “This time to knit (and crochet too) scarves, gloves, beanies and socks to warm up people in need. All knitted goods will be donated to our friends at Vinnies who will have their Night Patrol Van present on the day.”

But if that’s not quite your style, don’t worry – there’s more to the Winter Festival than just knitting. Here’s the rundown on the extensive range of activities that you can look forward to on the day:


The Winter Festival will be opened by Ngambri-Ngunnawal custodian, Daniel Williams, who will welcome visitors with a traditional smoking ceremony, one of the most significant ancient ceremonies performed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.



Due to their popularity, Etcetera Duo are back with their eclectic mix of comedy, mime and illusion.

11.00am, 1.00pm and 2.30pm (30 minutes)


Canberra artist, Dan Edwards, will guide you to create your own woolly winter snowflakes and show you how to knit with needles, your fingers and arms!

All day


Start knitting! Bring along your knitted socks, scarves and gloves to warm up and decorate the Gordon Darling Hall. Vinnies and their Night Patrol Van will be at the Gallery to collect your knitted donations.

All day


The wonderfully gifted Glenn Smith from Down Under Ice Designs is also returning to carve three portraits from our Collection out of ice. We will see the ice sculptures of Neville Bonner, Deborah Mailman and Truganini emerge over the day. But better get in quick before they turn into puddles!

From 10.00am



For those who need a space to relax and escape from the hustle and bustle you can head to the theatre where screenings of The Snowman, a classic family favourite from 1982, and other projections will be playing all day long. You can unwind in a beanbag and read some wintery themed books.

All day


Live music will be performed by jazz band As Famous as the Moon and Carl St. Jacques on the viola.
All day


Bring your own beanie from home or buy one on the day from the Information Desk for $2.00. Get crafty and decorate it with materials provided by us. Then bedazzle with your blinged up headgear!

All day


Make snowflake garlands, crowns and a snow person all on your own to take home.

All day

the essentials

What: Winter Festival
Where: National Portrait Gallery, King Edward Terrace, Parkes.
When: 10am to 4pm, Sunday 7 August, 2016
How much: Free


Sophia Bouzas

Sophia is a local Canberra girl half way through her Public Relations/Law degree. But when she’s not studying, paralegal-ing or interning for the lovely team at HerCanberra, you will probably find her enjoying Canberra’s selection of cafes, watching cheesy romantic comedies with a tea in hand or planning her next adventure. More about the Author