Matt Pierce of the Canberra Calvary takes a ride on the camels as part of the Christmas Carnival in Civic.

Matt Pierce of the Canberra Calvary takes a ride on the camels as part of the Christmas Carnival in Civic. Photo: Jay Cronan

The sight of camels riding around Ainslie Place might not seem like the most natural fit but that is precisely the idea, says Steve Gregory. The chief executive of Canberra CBD Limited says the company has broken with Christmas tradition this year to try to entice more Canberrans into the city.

The Christmas Carnival in the City began on Monday, with the carollers and Santa visits of seasons past joined by new activities meant to ''enliven'' Civic over Christmas and turn the city into something of an adventure playground. There are camel rides through City Walk, a rock-climbing wall in Garema Place, and bumper boats and a bungy trampoline in Civic Square.

''The previous style of activity has been the ambient activity, which has included a range of traditional Christmas activities like carols and meeting Santa,'' Mr Gregory said. ''This year we're doing something that's really going to get more attention and bring people into the city to see the carols and go on the rides.''

Jeremy Barnes of the Canberra Calvary takes a ride on the camels as part of the Christmas Carnival in Civic.

Jeremy Barnes of the Canberra Calvary takes a ride on the camels as part of the Christmas Carnival in Civic. Photo: Jay Cronan

He said Winter's Skate in the City had attracted 19,000 visitors and he hoped for similar success with the Christmas Carnival.

The free rides and activities run from noon until 8pm each day, which the company hopes will be a drawcard for families.

''This being a first-year event, we have no idea how many it will bring in, but obviously, the 12-8pm timeslot has been chosen with families and kids in mind,'' Mr Gregory said.

''We hope we'll have more people coming into the city, people who maybe haven't come in for a while can come and explore, do some Christmas shopping and see what's new around the place.''

Christmas Carnival in the City will run until December 21.