“Often with Canberra winters, we think, ‘Gosh, it’s nearly snowing,'” Jennifer Ramsay says. “This year, it really is in the city centre.”
Jennifer isn’t a meteorologist. Instead, she’s place experience manager for the ACT City Renewal Authority, which is running Winter in the City.
Until Sunday, 16 July, snow machines will be working overtime at Ainslie Place to paint the space between London Circuit and Canberra Centre white.
“It’s real snow on the ground,” Jennifer says. “You can touch it and feel it, build a snowman or have a toboggan ride on an 8-metre-long tobogganing slide.”
Those with a competitive edge can also participate in one of three snow sculpture competitions (from 2:15 pm on Saturday, 8 July, Sunday, 9 July, and Saturday, 15 July). Winners across the competition groups will then go head to head at a grand finale at 2:15 pm on Sunday, 16 July, for the chance to win prizes from local businesses and claim the title of Canberra’s Greatest Snow Sculpture.
On the other side of London Circuit, Civic Square has also been wrapped into the winter-themed festivities as an ice skating rink (with ice skating supports for the little ones).
Ice skating and snow play are available daily from 9 am to 7:30 pm, with discounted early morning sessions from 9 am to 11:30 am and late-night sessions on Fridays and Saturdays.
“After you’ve had that fun time on the snow and then on the ice rink, you can warm up with a hot chocolate or roasted marshmallow over one of the open fires,” Jennifer suggests.
These fires are inside the food and drinks area known as the Winter Village, sandwiched between the ice rink and snow play area and also open daily from 9 am to 7:30 pm.
Local eateries and other venues are also getting on board, with special offers for visitors from the Central Social Club, Loquita, San Churro, Status Golf and others.
Jennifer says she expects last year’s turnout of about 20,000 people to be exceeded, in no small part because of a full program of extra age-specific activities.
Frozen’s Elsa and Anna, and other well-known characters, will be visiting every Saturday and Sunday from 10:35 am to meet some of their smallest fans.
Civic Library will also be running winter-themed story times every morning and afternoon on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Plus, for crafty kids, snowflake, ice skates and mittens-making craft activities will run from 10 am daily (excluding Sundays), and at nearby Craft + Design Canberra, kids can attend a one-off clay snow animal-making workshop on Wednesday, 12 July, from 10:30 am.
“But we also have some late night over-18 activities for the first time this year that we haven’t run before,” Jennifer explains.
These include a Jazida Pop-Up Party in Civic Square on Friday, 14 July, from 5 pm, featuring fire eating and dancing, a DJ and 1.5-hour cabaret show.
Jazida curator and MC Rachel Reid told Region last month that “nothing brings the community together better than live art, and it’s my absolute favourite way to light up the city in a way that appeals to many people, no matter their walks of life”.
Two more 18-plus parties will run across two consecutive Saturdays, including a retro disco on ice on 8 July and a whiteout-themed party where guests will don their dazzling whites on 15 July.
Jennifer’s advice for visitors no matter their age, ability or interests?
“Put your puffer jacket, beanie and mittens on because it’s cold. It is a wintry experience.”
Learn more at Winter in the City.