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Affordable Christmas catch ups

Madeleine Porter

The festive season can sometimes cost an arm and a leg.

With work functions and family and friend catch ups, it can feel like you’re constantly reaching for your wallet from November until January.

But having a social summer doesn’t have to send you broke. Here are some cost-effective options for spending quality time with friends, family and colleagues.



Image: Martin Ollman

Image: Martin Ollman

Escape the house and walk (or ride) around Lake Burley Griffin, Lake Tuggeranong or Lake Ginninderra with friends or family. The distance for each varies, but Lake Burley Griffin’s ‘Bridge to Bridge’ usually takes the average walker around an hour, so you can choose to bulk it out with a coffee at one of the pop-up spots around the lake or perhaps a detour to a Gallery or the Kingston Foreshore.

If you’re Southside, you could add in a dip at the Lakeside Leisure Centre or if you’re in Belco, why not pad out the walk with a stop for the little ones at John Knight Park or a coffee at Ha Ha Bar.

Ready for a new route all together? Find more of our favourites here.

Cost: Free


Young Woman Eating Popcorn in Movie Theater

Escape the summer heat and bond over this summer’s biggest hits. Thor: Ragnarok, Murder on the Orient Express and Star Wars: The Last Jedi are just some of the big names hitting screens across the city.

Dendy Cinema, 148 Bunda St, Canberra City | Cost: pp min $9  –  max $25 | Hoyts Cinema, Westfield Woden, Bradley Street, Phillip | Cost: pp min $13 max $24 (family deals available) | Hoyts Cinema, Westfield Belconnen, Level 3, 18 Benjamin Way, Belconnen | Cost: pp min $13 max $24 (family deals available)


Image: Schmicnics

Image: Schmicnics

There are so many gorgeous spots around the lake and you can tailor a picnic to every budget whether you’re just hitting up Woolies or splurging on a fab pre-made gourmet hamper or event from Schmicnics.

Cost: An estimated $10 per person



From the short(ish) hike up Mt Ainslie that will leave you breathless but with breathtaking views to all day hikes across Namadgi, there’s a bushwalk or hike to suit everyone.

Check out our guide here.

Cost: Free


arriet Schwarzrock at Undercurrent Markets. Photographer: Madeline McGuigan.

Harriet Schwarzrock at Undercurrent Markets. Photographer: Madeline McGuigan.

The 2017 Undercurrent Design Market – held in the award-winning National Portrait Gallery, will be showcasing an array of contemporary, leading edge Australian-made design goodness – from ceramics to jewellery, textiles and glass.

Held over three BIG days on the weekend of 24 – 26 November, avoid the Christmas rush and shop directly with the designers to buy something unique and exclusive.


Handmade Canberra has atmospheric music, festive street food, custom cocktails, and Christmas tipples. Make sure to leave time to browse through their Gourmet Food Hall too. Open Friday 8 December from 5pm until 9pm and Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 December from 10am until 4pm.

Handmade Market Canberra Flemington Rd, Mitchell | Cost: Free 


Love fine arts, beautifully crafted jewellery, clothing collections and scrumptious food? Get thee to the Old Bus Depot Markets each Sunday from 10am – 4pm. Don’t forget the kids! The Markets also has a jumping castle, reptile show, petting zoo, pony rides and carnival games on Saturday 2 December so plan ahead. The Markets are open to the public every Saturday and Sunday throughout December from 10am-4pm (Christmas Eve included!).

Old Bus Depot Markets, 21 Wentworth Ave, Kingston | Cost: Free



The Commons Street Feast is a food, drink and entertainment wonderland. Take the whole family to enjoy wood-fired pizza, Asian street food, Filipino meats, spit-roast meats, burgers, wings, wraps, Hungarian desserts, gelato, waffles and more!

November 30 – December 10 | Lake Burley Griffin Commonwealth Park, Canberra City | Cost: Entry is free, food prices vary 


Candy - Abbie Cornish as Candy and Heath Ledger as Dan on the Gravitron by Hugh Hartshorne.

Candy – Abbie Cornish as Candy and Heath Ledger as Dan on the Gravitron by Hugh Hartshorne.

With Starstruck: Australian Movie Portraits, HyperReal and Songlines all on from now until early next year at the NPG, NGA and NMA respectively, there’s never been a better time to go on an art crawl.

If the entry costs (anywhere from $12-25 per person) are too much, why not check out the permanent exhibitions instead? They’re free, air-conditioned and each institution has a fantastic cafe if you’d prefer for dollars to go towards caffeine instead.

Read more about Starstruck here. Read more about HyperReal here. Read more about Songlines here | Cost: $12-25 per person for the blockbuster exhibitions. Permanent exhibitions are free



Why not take your catch up to a fresh setting? Collector has an enviable cafe (Some Cafe) and cellar door (Collector Wines) as well as a sweet little pub and lovely quiet walks. Bungendore has a rambling main street for you to explore as well as some great food options and Bredbo’s Christmas Barn is…well, you just have to see it.

Cost: Petrol


Madeleine Porter

Madeleine is originally from the rural area of Hay in South Western, NSW. After spending her gap year in the Northern Territory as a jillaroo on motorbikes and horseback, she decided to move to Canberra to begin her university degree. Madeleine’s currently in her final year at the University of Canberra studying a Bachelor of Communications in Public Relations/Bachelor of Arts in International Studies. Although a country girl at heart, Madeleine loves everything to do with fashion and the wedding sector. Her Canberra has given Madeleine great exposure into the wedding industry through launch of Unveiled. When Madeleine completes her university degree, she is ready to venture out into the world and continue to write about her adventures overseas. More about the Author

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