Christmas in the Capital

19 Dec

It has been a busy coupla weeks in the worlds of T1 and T2 and we have a number of new well overdue reviews to publish. However, I can’t help but think the best review with which to start is Christmas!

You could almost be forgiven for thinking we’re in the northern hemisphere – that’s how strange the weather has been lately. However, that hasn’t stopped the numerous Christmas celebrations around the Capital. Here’s some of T1’s faves:

Santa Pub Crawl

The annual Santa Pub Crawl is held usually a weekend or two before Christmas and is a sight to behold. I’ll be honest – I’ve actually never dressed up as a Santa. But, it’s always a bit of a thrill to innocently stumble into a pub swarming with red coats and white beards. It’s on my to do list for 2013!

Canberra’s Christmas Lights – including the Guinness World Record Holder

There’s not a lot more festive than getting out there and seeing some of the lights making our fair city just a touch fairer (even though there’s no point heading out til after 8pm when the sun has set) – but there’s a real stand out this year. Since the Canberra Times reported on the lovely Forrest home becoming a Guinness World Record Holder for most number of lights on a domestic dwelling (over 330,000!), you’d be right in guessing that there are many families heading over to what is truly a magical wonderland. The effort, the coordination involved, the swell of grand Christmas harmonies followed immediately by the lights practically dancing in tune to the more kitschy Christmas melodies, the kids looking up in awe, the sheer height of some of the lights – it really is a lovely experience. The only negative, I guess, is that I’m not sure too many other dwellings could top such a feat for Christmas lights – and thus was the logic with Boyfriend and I: after seeing just these lights and donating to the Sids and Kids charity, we abandoned our intention to look at other lights and headed home.

Cost: small donation to Sid and Kids charity

Where: 3 Tennyson Crescent, Forrest

Worthwhile factor: Very worthwhile

Hyatt Christmas Buffet

I always hear mixed reviews about this buffet – and, I’ll admit, even thought my experience at a weekday Christmas function in 2010 at the same buffet was underwhelming. But, it did have a great selection of seafood, so figured it was worth a second shot. And, I did wonder if it would be better or worse on a weekend.

So, the weekend before Christmas, Boyfriend and I decided to have our own Christmas dinner together (we’re spending Christmas apart because of family obligations). The booking process was a bit odd, with me calling up the day before to arrange:
“Hi, could I organise a booking for two for the lunch tomorrow for two people?”
“Sure, that’s for the dinner buffet?”
“No, the lunch.”
“Oh right, the lunch. Okay. Hold on a second. And that was for four people?”
“No, two.”
“Ah yes, two people. Okay, that’s all booked in.”
“Um, what time have you booked it in for?”
“12 o’clock.”

That aside, we arrived and were taken to our table where we mulled over whether we should order the drinks package or not. We did so – after comparing the prices for individual drinks, getting the package for $23 each seemed like a bargain. My previous experience was that the service had been slow – for a two hour drinks package, they had taken their time taking orders and bringing out the drinks, and the options were limited. This time around, the options were still limited (just Carlton Draught and light beer, a white and red Benchmark wine, and sparkling wine) but we had excellent waiters who went out of their way to ensure our plates were removed speedily (making it quite difficult to keep track of just how many plates of food I ate!) and regularly topping up our glasses.

Selection of desserts

The food selection was also excellent, and probably even seemed better than it was because the place wasn’t packed out – so, there was little queuing up for the almost overfull plates of mussels, crab, oysters, prawns, various cold meats and salads. It wasn’t until my third plate that Boyfriend pointed out that indeed there were more areas serving food – an entire hot food section (selections of turkey, barramundi, ham, pasta, roasted potatoes and steamed vegetables) and a huge array of desserts that I was missing out on. The offerings never seemed waning, which was a big plus. The only bemusing thing was that by the time we headed up for our first plate (at about 12.15), they were missing a number of utensils (like tongs for the delectable smoked salmon, and a ladle for the vegetable soup) and I heard the waiters rush around saying, “Take a look at what else we’re missing.”

Suffice to say, we stuffed ourselves. And what’s better after a Christmas lunch than heading down to the lake on what was finally a picturesque day, and taking in some Vitamin D with a little nap. However, our little nap turned into a 90 minute nap, and I woke with a sunburned left arm and a frosty-white right arm. Otherwise, delightful!

Half eaten food

Cost: 64 per person per buffet, 87 total each with the drinks package

Where: The Park Hyatt Hotel, Canberra

Worthwhile factor: Worthwhile

Festivus (for the rest of us)

What’s Christmas without something like Festivus? I heard murmuring of numerous Festivus parties held around Canberra this year, and attended one myself on Saturday night. It included an Airing of Grievances of epic proportions with an apt steel pole, but sadly no Feats of Strength (at least, I didn’t see any!). My thanks to the hosts for putting on such a great evening.

Carols in the Park

Christmas Carols at Stage 88 are advertised every year and, having not attended any live Christmas Carols since some school concerts many years back, I was excited to head along this year. However, unlike most patrons we were sans alcohol, and there was a crisp chilly wind and the skies were ominously dark. So, to properly review this year’s Carols wouldn’t be fair: I assume they were saving some of the more familiar and rousing Carols to the end, but with the chilly wind (despite wearing a cardigan and a leather jacket!) and not enough liveliness early on, we left after about an hour. Definitely an event which instead would benefit from a hot summer’s day – and an esky! However, given the crowd it draws – and assuming those aren’t first timers like we were – you’ve got to be pretty confident it’s usually a decent event to attend.

Cost: Free

Where: Stage 88

Worthwhile factor: Hard to tell

One Response to “Christmas in the Capital”

  1. Ben Foley December 20, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    We saw the forrest lights too. There sure were a lot of them, though I don’t think they were the most impressive. There was a winter themed one last year that I thought was better, can’t recall exactly where but southside where a whole culdesac joined in.

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