Noah Cross, 6, plays in the floating bubble that has been set up in Civic Square.

Noah Cross, 6, plays in the floating bubble that has been set up in Civic Square. Photo: Colleen Petch

On a steamy afternoon in Canberra, the children were heading to the bumper boats in Civic. And their parents were admitting to a little wallet-loosening in the shops.

While all the amusements for the Christmas Carnival in the City are free - camels! bumper boats! waterballs! - the whole point of the exercise is to encourage people to spend money in the shops in Civic. While also having some fun.

And the tactic by the Canberra CBD Limited group seems to be working.

Carnival in the City fun- 3 yr old Emily Harcher on a rock climbing wall  that has been set up in Garema Place. Click for more photos

Fun at Canberra's Carnival in the City

Carnival in the City fun- 3 yr old Emily Harcher on a rock climbing wall that has been set up in Garema Place. Photo: Colleen Petch

  • Carnival in the City fun- 3 yr old Emily Harcher on a rock climbing wall  that has been set up in Garema Place.
  • Carnival in the City fun- 3 year old Emily Harcher on a rock climbing wall  that has been set up in Garema Place.
  • Carnival in the City fun 5 year old (L) Tuqiri Beattie has fun in the bubble on water that has been set up in Civic Square .
  • Carnival in the City fun- 6 year old Noah Cross has fun in the bubble on water that has been set up in Civic Square .
  • Carnival in the City fun-  A rock climbing wall  that has been set up in Garema Place.
  • Carnival in the City fun- Caitlin and Nick Beaton on the horizontal bungee that has been set up in Garema Place.
  • Carnival in the City fun- Kelly Sledge in the bubble on water  that has been set up in Civic Square.
  • Carnival in the City fun- 4 year old Jack Dunn  has fun in the bumper boats that has been set up in Civic Square .

Penny Troy, of Giralang, mother to Hunter Cross, 8, and Noah Cross, 6 - both boys happily hot and sweaty after a stint in the waterballs in Civic Square - said she'd usually shop in Belconnen. But she spent about $150 on Christmas presents in the shops in Civic.

''I went to places like the Oxfam shop and the [Socrates] puzzle shop, places I wouldn't usually go to,'' she said.

Spence mother Jennifer Hartcher, whose daredevil three-year-old Emily was having a go on the rock climbing wall in Garema Place, said she had spent about $65 by mid-afternoon and was just starting.

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''It's good,'' she said. ''The kids get a break from shopping and have some fun and then they're happy to go back into the shops.''

Ali Dunn, of Giralang, wouldn't usually shop in Civic but spent most of Wednesday in the heart of the city with son Jack, 4, who was a natural on the bumper boats. They had lunch in a cafe and an ice-cream and a whole heap of fun.

Ella Johnston, 16, of Pearce, was having a fine old time as hamster-in-a-wheel on the waterballs. Participants can literally walk on water clamouring inside the inflated balls.

Emily Harcher, 3, on the rock climbing wall  that has been set up in Garema Place.

Emily Harcher, 3, on the rock climbing wall that has been set up in Garema Place. Photo: Colleen Petch

''It's very tiring,'' she said. ''You don't think it's going to be, but then gravity has it's way with you. It's hard to breathe after screaming for a while.''

The camels have been a hit in Ainslie Place.

Murrumbateman teenager Nick Beaton, 14, and his sister Caitlin, 17, had a go on the bungy run in City Walk.

Rachel Rosewarne, of Lyneham, took young visitors Jay Heidke, 10, and sister Andie, 6, from Mossman in Queensland, and her cousin Liam Rosewarne, 7, to the carnival, and reported, ''They've had a blast.''

''If it's about getting people into the city, it's definitely working because we wouldn't have come in otherwise,'' she said.

The carnival is on daily from noon to 8pm until December 21.

The camel rides are noon-2pm, 3pm-5pm and 6pm-8pm.