I'm a freelance writer living in Perth. Having 2 young kids with endless energy, we are always on the lookout for new outdoor activities.
Celebrate the festive season for free
Home Alone screened @ Northbridge Piazza on 21 Dec
December seems to be the peak of all things merry and happy for most of us. It's summer (but not too hot yet), it's the school holidays (but not too long & boring yet), and then before we know it, it's New Year's Eve, and that means partying and staying up late and fireworks. In this respect, we Australians are lucky to have such a perfect season for all these activities. Imagine having to wait for hours for the New Year's Eve fireworks in New York's or London's weather. Brrr.
To celebrate December, below is a select list of free family activities that covers all weekends, from the beginning to the end of December. Calendar format is provided as well.
When: Sunday, 2 December, 10.30 – 11.30am. Where: State Library of WA, Perth Cultural Centre. Website: www.slwa.wa.gov.au
Our State Library never disappoints when it comes to family activities. On top of the weekly rhymetime and storytime targeting toddlers and preschoolers, every month they would have something special on a weekend so that the whole family can join in. This time around, they are organising a concert at the Place (Mezzanine Level) which would be a seasonal celebration of stories and music. What a pleasant way to escape from the heat for a while and spend a lazy Sunday morning with your loved ones.
The annual East Fremantle Festival is back with George Street opening its doors with various market stalls, art exhibition, and gourmet catering. If live entertainment is your cup of tea, head to Sewell Street where the main stage would be located. Children would not be left out as Glasson Park is set aside especially for them. It has a brand new playground recently installed, and extra activities like bouncy castle, climbing wall, face painting, and animal farm will be provided on festival day.
Image courtesy of waso.com.au
3. Symphony in the City When: Saturday, 8 December, 7.30 – 9.30pm. Where: Langley Park, Riverside Drive, Perth. Website:www.waso.com.au
On this special free performance, WASO and WASO Chorus will perform music from the film The Pirates of the Caribbean, Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man, Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries, and more. You are welcomed to bring your own picnic or purchase food and drink on site. Be prepared for a change of weather, especially if you have little ones with you. A summer evening in December could start off warm and turn chilly in no time. If you don't feel up to finding your way into the city, not to worry, you could always opt to watch their live webcast.
PolArt is one of the largest Polish cultural festivals held outside Poland and will be in Perth for the very first time in 2012 on 28 December 2012 to 5 January 2013. One of the events planned for this week is PolArt Festyn, a family day featuring a children's carnival and an outdoor market at Perth Cultural Centre. Activities include dance and music performances, arts and crafts, storytelling, and face painting. There will be Polish food to sample and other stalls inspired by Polish heritage.
5. New Year's Eve When: Monday, 31 December, 6pm – midnight. Where: Mandurah foreshore. Website:www.mandurah.wa.gov.au
Image courtesy of City of Mandurah
We Perthians are often green with envy when we see Sydney's New Year's Eve Fireworks on TV. True, we have our Australia Day's extravaganza, but that's 26 days away. If you just can't do without New Year's Eve fireworks, head to Mandurah Foreshore on D-Day and you won't be disappointed. Two are scheduled for this celebration: at 9pm for families with young kids and again at midnight to welcome 2013. And that's not all. While waiting for the momentous hour, other entertainment such as live music and silent disco, would be at hand.
The Northbridge Piazza is celebrating in the month leading up to Christmas with festive family films. At noon on 2 December it will start with Elf, be followed by the monthly Piazzarama Northbridge (this month featuring Christmas-themed entertainment, including craft workshops, roving entertainment and a giant snowdome), and finish with the screening of The Grinch at 4pm. After that, there will be daily screenings from 19 to 24 December. Not all the movies screened are family flicks, but many are, such as:
- 20 Dec 7.30pm: Christmas with the Kranks
- 21 Dec 6.30pm: Jingle All the Way
- 22 Dec 6.30pm: Home Alone (in conjunction with Free Flicks for Kids)
- 23 Dec 5.30pm: Home Alone 2
- 24 Dec 7.30pm: A Muppet Christmas
2. Kalamunda Carols by Candlelight
When: Sunday, 9 December, 7:30pm – 9.30pm. Where: Stirk Park, Kalamunda Road, Kalamunda. Website:www.weekendnotes.com/kalamunda-carols-by-candlelight/
There are plenty of Carols by Candlelight event in December, but I am consciously listing only 2 in this article - those that capture the variety of life in Greater Perth: one up on the hills, and one by the beach (see Christmas Carols at Scarborough further down the list). This one in Kalamunda is an annual event with performances by various local community and school groups including Kalamunda District Pipe Band. Bring your picnic blankets and singing voice (or listening ears, if you prefer) and enjoy an evening up on the hills, under the stars.
I think it's a pity that the annual Christmas Pageant is moved back to an evening timeslot. I liked it better when it's done on a Sunday morning. Having said that, I have to admit the floats would probably look spectacular under the CBD Christmas lights. And if your kids can't stay up late yet, as a consolation prize there is mini-carnival in Forrest Place from 3pm to 7pm.
4. Christmas Carols at Scarborough
When: Sunday, 16 December. Where: Scarborough Beach Amphitheatre, The Esplanade, Scarborough. Website:www.stirling.wa.gov.au
Information is not really complete at the time of writing about this popular annual event. Other than the date and venue, no further detail is provided on the City of Stirling's website at the moment. However, traditionally Christmas Carols at Scarborough is conducted from 7 to 9pm, and finished with fireworks, so I'm crossing my fingers that it would be the same this year.
5. Festival of Lessons and Carols
When: Saturday, 22 December to Monday, 24 December, 7.30 – 8.45pm. Where: Saint George's Cathedral, 38 St Georges Tce, Perth. Website:www.perthcathedral.org/
Image courtesy of St George's Cathedral
There is something to be said for the sound of music in a church and the idea proves so popular that many concerts have been held at such venues. This is exactly what is on offer here: choir, music, carols, Bible readings, and some prayers. There are three sessions every day for three days which lead nicely to Christmas itself. Last year, the lessons were read among others by Premier Colin Barnett and Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi and one of the carol services was recorded and broadcasted nationally on ABC Classic FM Radio.
6. Christmas at Whiteman Park
When: Sunday, 23 December, 11am – 1pm. Where: Whiteman Park, Lord St, Whiteman. Website:www.whitemanpark.com
WA Christmas Tree (Image courtesy of wikipedia)
Christmas at Whiteman Park is guaranteed to be slightly different from the run-of-the-mill variety. For one, there would be live Christmas Trees everywhere, decorated with their own natural bright orange flowers. For another, the carols performed by Ain't Misbehavin would be mixed with retro tunes, so more people could hum or whistle or jiggle to their heart's content. Luckily for the young ones, one traditional aspect remains. The jolly old fellow would still make an appearance, presumably just before he sets off on his travels up and down chimneys around the world.
No list of free family activities would be complete without the ever faithful Free Flicks for Kids. The start time is slightly different every week, so make sure you arrive in time for your favourite one. The movies scheduled for the month of December are:
- 1 Dec 6.30pm: Finding Nemo.
- 8 Dec 5.30pm: The Pirates! Band of Misfits.
- 15 Dec 6.30pm: Anastasia.
- 22 Dec 6.30pm: Home Alone.
- 29 Dec 6pm: Old Dogs.
That's it folks. That's the end of 2012. I am sure we will meet again at the beginning of next year, grumbling about the heat perhaps, and hoping that nothing disastrous would happen to postpone the start of the school year; but other than that, surviving and happy to be here. See you then.