Christmas is here
Nicola Hearn and Sarah Greet are well prepared as Tocumwal Lane becomes Christmas Lane. Photo: Rohan Thomson
Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way? It may be the middle of March, but Canberra is about to experience a visit from Santa as part of the latest arts blitz for the centenary. On Sunday Tocumwal Lane in Civic will be transformed into Christmas Lane. The jolly man's appearance in Canberra is
one of the features of the You Are Here festival, which spans March 14 to 24.
Sunday's highlight is a temporary Christmas oasis, where Canberra bands will play seasonal songs. There will be free craft workshops and Canberrans can help decorate the You Are Here tree.
Julia Johnson, Glen Martin, and Pete Hewitt are part of the Mixtape performance in the You Are Here arts festival. Photo: Rohan Thomson
The festival's co-producer, Yolande Norris, says it follows in the footsteps of last year's very successful beach-themed attraction at the annual festival.
''This is our third year,'' she says.
''We wanted a theme that would be a bit of fun and we decided on Christmas this time.
The You Are Here festival promo.
''You can get your photo taken for free in Santa's grotto.
''Everyone is welcome and we hope you'll find a little bit of Christmas magic in a pocket of the city you might not normally see.''
The Christmas wonderland will be open from noon to 6pm, behind Landspeed Records.
The festival features a program of more than 100 events, which will be dotted around Civic, taking up obscure places from vacant shop fronts, to public spaces and independent stores.
''If you are in Civic you can just drop by,'' Norris says. ''You can come along any time you are free and try something new.
''We want it to be very accessible. We have been blown away by the generosity of property managers and property owners who have let us take over their spaces and make it our own for that time.
''We have been sponsored by Canberra CBD Limited, which has introduced us to owners and helped create those relationships.''
The You Are Here festival aims to showcase experimental works from the city's artists.
''We want to highlight the energy, innovation and talent of Canberra's artists past and present,'' Norris says.
''We're doing it through a blistering program of theatre, music, visual arts and performance events.
"After two festivals, Canberrans have come to know what sorts of things they can look forward to in the You Are Here program.
''This year we are expanding and throwing more in the mix, with six curators currently developing over 100 unique festival events."
Events will also crop up in cafes and bars.
"It's a festival that offers audiences a chance to better get to know their city and its artists,'' Norris says. ''As always, the program will be full of events that are challenging, experimental, irreverent and surprising."
You Are Here will also contain a festival-within-a-festival, called Ice Age, which includes more than 20 theatre works which will be staged in the old Fletcher Jones space, off London Circuit in the city.
''They are short works of about 15 minutes to 20 minutes each,'' Norris says.
''It will be going on throughout the festival.''
Norris says all of the events in the festival are free and there are no tickets or bookings required.
You Are Here is a Centenary of Canberra project and has a website listing events and locations. See www.youareherecanberra.com.au.