If you thought you heard sleigh bells jingling all over town, you might not have been imagining it.
Canberra’s ‘biggest ever year of Christmas celebrations’ was officially launched on Tuesday, 23 November, with a jam-packed program of events intended to bring the city centre to life during the coming month.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said ‘Christmas in the City 2021’ will provide “something for everyone”.
Themed ‘Christmas in the Bush Capital’, there’s a large Christmas tree decorated with an image of the city’s iconic gang gang cockatoo; art installations and decorations in City Walk; and street performances from a diverse range of artists and acts, such as Christmas carols from Canberra Symphony Orchestra and on-street DJs.
Naughty elves will also make their way through the streets of Braddon.
A digital advent calendar comprising festive offers from local businesses will also be launched at the beginning of December.
“People are very much looking forward to celebrating Christmas in a COVID-19-safe way as it’s been a pretty challenging year for everyone,” said Mr Barr.
He was joined by City Renewal Authority CEO Malcolm Snow to launch the official program of Christmas events.
“We’ve designed a program for everyone because that’s what Christmas is about,” said Mr Snow.
“With the 80 events from now until Christmas Eve, there is something for every age.”
Mr Snow said the program of events has been designed to mitigate the ongoing risk of COVID-19.
It’s hoped the program will help draw people back to the city en masse, which in turn will contribute to the ACT’s post-lockdown economic growth.
Mr Barr said there are already encouraging signs that this is underway, with nationwide credit card data already showing a 20 per cent increase on 2019 levels.
He spoke on Tuesday about money held in household savings accounts during lockdown, and the positive impact it is likely to have on the local economy when this money is spent.
An exact dollar figure on how much money is anticipated to be spent in the Canberra city centre is unknown, but Mr Barr said hundreds of thousands of people will come into the city centre during the next few weeks.
“We’d expect to bring hundreds of thousands of dollars into the city every day so after a four-week period we are talking millions of dollars,” said Mr Barr.
However, making parking free in government-run car parks is not on the agenda.
The New Year’s Eve fireworks and festivities will also go ahead this year, albeit in a COVID-19-safe manner around Lake Burley Griffin rather than in the city centre.
But the 2022 National Multicultural Festival has been cancelled due to ongoing concerns around COVID-19 and the impracticality of planning such a large event in only a few months.
For more information about ‘Christmas in the City 2021′, visit the City Renewal Authority.