A love letter to Perth at Christmas time.
I love this time of year. The sky is blue, the days are long and the city erupts into celebration.
Come February and March, I will be well and truly over the still, sweltering heat, the hot gusts of wind which seem to come straight off the desert and evaporate any semblance of moisture from my skin, the feeling of sweat trickling down my back moments after stepping out of the shower and the sting of sunburn from the 2 minute walk to the bus stop on my way to work.
But for now, as Christmas creeps closer, sun light dances across the pavement and sparkles over the kitschy Christmas decorations which adorn the city centre, sending a ripple of excitement which infects people as they go about their day-to-day business.
It’s a time of long days and balmy nights, with markets throughout the day and into the evening and pop-up bars interspersed with Christmas shopping with a soundtrack of Christmas carols and the hum of air conditioning. Of mornings at the beach before it gets too warm and the tide too rough and then trying to slurp down ice-cream before it melts on the way back to the car, hot, sandy and satiated.
The other weekend it felt like Christmas had really begun, with the Light Up Leederville Carnival and its Australian spin on a decorated tree.
The past few Fridays, I’ve been enjoying dinner at the Twilight Hawkers Market. The food is amazing (I usually stop at Marcelita’s Empanadas) and the atmosphere is electric as a mix of city suits, students, families and holiday-makers fill Forrest Place and enjoy the various street performers while they eat.
Last Friday, Popup Bar in the Urban Orchard was up and running and was quickly filled by the same eclectic mix of people (although, possibly a few more hipsters), soaking in the sunshine, while knocking back a beverage or two (Matso’s lime and ginger cider? Don’t mind if I do.)
In the city over the weekend, I saw kids playing in the Labyrinth Fountain while their parents looked on (or in some cases, joined in) and around them, the summer Perth Home Grown market bustled. Further on, more kids played in the mini beach in the Perth Cultural Centre. After a wander through the Made on the Left Market in our stunning State Theatre Centre, I saw a mini driving through the city, complete with a mini Christmas tree strapped to it’s roof.
I have bookmarked various festivals (such as Perth International Arts Festival and Fringe World) and various outdoor cinemas (such as the Lotterywest Festival Films at Somerville, Rooftop Movies, Moonlight Cinema in Kings Park and Movies by Burswood) to revisit as summer progresses, to alleviate Christmas shopping madness and later chase away the post Christmas blues.
Before the summer is out, I will picnic in Kings Park and while away afternoons by the river. I’m pretty sure I won’t be the only one.
However, despite the number of people with similar ideas, it never feels claustrophobically crowded. The relaxed, easy-going, joyful ambience generated by a congregation of a cross section of society peacefully enjoying at little to no cost what Perth’s public spaces have to offer is one of the best things about Perth. Anyone who complains that Perth is boring really needs to get out more.
While it jars slightly with dreams of a walking in a Winter Wonderland and dashing through the snow on a one horse open sleigh (and I’ll never quite understand why we insist on perpetuating the farce of snowman-laden Christmas cards when it’s close to 40 degrees Celsius outside) it still holds true in Perth that it’s a wonderful time of year.