'Fabulous': families defy weather for a night of carols in the city

Bageshri Savyasachi
Updated December 9 2023 - 8:31pm, first published 8:30pm

The highly awaited The Canberra Times' Carols by Candlelight truly opened the holiday season with warmth and joy.

The clouds cleared and a splendid summer sunset lit up Stage 88 at Commonwealth Park on Saturday evening.

Cell Block 69's lead singer Duanne Le Corey-Michaels is laid up with a broken leg so the cult band will not be performing its traditiona pre-Christmas gig in Canberra.

The good news is the band will be back in March for two gigs in "Canberry".

It was a sea of tinsel hairbands and reindeer ears with red Santa hats as far as the eye could see.

The community-favourite Christmas celebration distracted attendees from the day's clammy weather. Having gelato and slushie stands nearby helped, too.

Charlotte, Sailor, 2, Hayley and George Fitzpatrick, 4, of Casey at Carols by Candlelight at Stage 88. Picture by Elesa Kurtz
Charlotte, Sailor, 2, Hayley and George Fitzpatrick, 4, of Casey at Carols by Candlelight at Stage 88. Picture by Elesa Kurtz

It was young caroler George Fitzpatrick's first time at the popular event. The four-year-old said his favourite carol to sing was Christmas Tree Farm by Taylor Swift.

Meanwhile, caroling in the park was a yearly event for Danielle Hartnett's big Canberra family.

Her siblings, their kids and the young grandkids were all dressed up in festive red ready to sing along to the Woden Valley Youth choristers and the Canberra City Band.

Ms Hartnett said her family loved singing along to the Aussie Jingle Bells and quiet classic Silent Night.

Danielle Hartnett, Susan Hollaway with Mollie, Jessica and Vanessa Miller, with Rebecca and Enid Hollaway at Carols by Candlelight. Picture by Elesa Kurtz
Danielle Hartnett, Susan Hollaway with Mollie, Jessica and Vanessa Miller, with Rebecca and Enid Hollaway at Carols by Candlelight. Picture by Elesa Kurtz

"It's a bit of a tradition," she said smiling.

"We're so happy that it stopped raining so we could be here. We've got raincoats so we'll be OK."

Kylie Gibson, president of the choir, said the chorists loved performing at Stage 88 and that Carols by Candlelight was a wonderful Christmas gift to the community.

"I want to thank the Canberra community for always supporting this fabulous event," Ms Gibson said.

She said the choir had been working hard for six months and wanted to thank The Canberra Times and ECG Electricals for sponsoring the concert.

"We're very grateful to have this crowd here, considering the humid weather," Ms Gibson said.

According to her calculations, the most popular Christmas carol this year was The First Noel.

"The choristers harmonise beautifully to it," she said.

The beloved Carols by Candlelight event has run for 78 years with the first concert held in front of Old Parliament House in 1945.

Bageshri Savyasachi

I am a general reporter with an interest in community stories and issues that need attention. Contact me with general tips and thoughts at bageshri.s@canberratimes.com.au or send confidential tips to bageshri.s@proton.me

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