Christmas truly has arrived in Canberra. On Friday night the ACT will turn on the lights of its rejuvenated Christmas tree and potentially snare a world record. The Christmas in the City celebrations are also starting on Friday night
The 666 ABC Giving Tree is up, this year partnering with Marymead to deliver gifts to disadvantaged children, young people and families.
And there will be a touch of Nordic Christmas celebrations in Canberra on the weekend – and they have nothing to do with IKEA.
The Scandinavian Australian Association in Canberra is holding its popular Scandinavian Christmas Bazaar at the Albert Hall on Saturday, with gifts for sale as well as traditional entertainment including the moving children's Lucia procession.
The bazaar and entertainment will be on from noon to 4pm on Saturday, with folk dancing and singing included.
However, Friday night is when it starts with all eyes on Canberra – including from Japan.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr and the lights' creator, David Richards, will just after 9pm turn on the lights of the Christmas tree in City Walk near The Canberra Times Fountain.
The ACT is in line to snare the world record for most lights on an artificial Christmas tree – a record now held by Universal Studios in Japan.
The number to beat is 374,280 lights.
The display also includes a 70-metre tunnel of lights along City Walk that will open at 9pm. The event is the flagship fundraiser for SIDS and Kids ACT, with proceeds going to Canberra and the surrounding community through bereavement support and safe sleeping education.
There will be a Christmas concert from 7pm to 10pm on Friday, including performances by The Grinch, Jay Laga'aia from Playschool and Amber Nichols from The Voice.
The Christmas in the City celebrations, organised by Canberra CBD Limited, also start on Friday. From 5pm until late on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the Christmas Night Markets will be open in City Walk and the Taste Canberra Markets will be open in Petrie Plaza.
Canberra CBD Limited chief executive Jane Easthope said the opening weekend of Christmas in the City – Canberra Celebrates! – will be the biggest yet.
"The opening weekend marks the start of a month-long event with festivities for the young and young at heart," she said.
"The Christmas and community concerts are a great way to bring the community together, and the night markets, Taste Canberra and Children's Activity Hub provide a sample of the many events that will be transforming the city centre this Christmas."
A community-based concert will be held in City Walk on Saturday featuring talent from an array of local schools, including Mawson Primary, Woden School, Gold Creek, Melrose High, Campbell High, Lyneham High, Merici College, Canberra Girls Grammar School and St Clare's. This inaugural community concert will be opened by Education Minister Joy Burch at 3.55pm and run till to 9.30pm.
Also opening on Saturday is the Children's Activity Hub, where staff and volunteers will help children complete a range of holiday-themed crafts and activities such as bubble-blown wrapping paper and Christmas-themed Scratch Art.
More events and activities will start as the days count down to Christmas, including the arrival of the camel rides from December 11. (Go to: inthecitycanberra.com.au/)
Meanwhile, unwrapped gift items can be delivered to the Giving Tree at the 666 ABC Canberra reception, corner of Northbourne and Wakefield avenues, during business hours from Monday to Friday until December 18.
The gifts will be distributed by Marymead, which suggests donations for children, young people, and their families including food vouchers, school holiday activity vouchers such as passes to the movies, zoo, bowling, waterparks and trampoline areas; sports items and back-to-school items as well as toys and other Christmas gifts.
Marymead chief executive officer Camilla Rowland said it would distribute any gifts excess to its needs to other community organisations "to ensure as many of Canberra's households as possible don't go without this Christmas".