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I’m proud of you, Canberra. You’re getting quite grown up, and festive to boot. Canberra may not have the population or the perpetual buzz of the big cities in Australia (nor the traffic and the mania for that matter), but I really do think we are coming of age and becoming quite a destination for fun, festivals and food.

Take last weekend for an example. The MultiCultural Festival overtook the streets and parks of Civic with gourmet fare from around the globe, the Summerside Festival was in full swing for the foodies in the Capital, the Baby and Kids Market was on (no babies were sold, relax) and we had our very own night markets on Friday – up to now, a pretty rare thing in this public service town.

The Canberra Night Markets at Barton, nestled in Burbury Close and the precinct around the Realm Hotel, is a pretty new player on the block – this was only the second time the pop-up markets have operated. When the work day was at its end, suddenly a little village of white tents and fairy lights and lanterns appeared, with a delightful array of stalls and handmade delights. Beyond the usual soaps and photo frames,  there were native flowers, cotton cushions and rugs, fresh cookies, handcrafted pictures for tots, and even coloured collar decorations for your pets. Nice stuff, quality stuff, things you don’t usually see around. We came away with a few purchases, including some leather baby shoes – good to support the early uptakers.

While the crowds wandered around and chilled in Realm Park, some with dinner, some without, a guitarist perched on his stool and played the hits from our past. He was good. There were 20-somethings and 50-somethings and lots in between, families, kids, and even dogs. It really felt like a festival.

Maple and Clove catered for the drinking crowd with little stand up tables and a special market menu, or you could grab a burger or a small something from a couple of the local eateries from their market tents. Sliders or skewers, Japanese or Aussie – there were some good choices.

It really felt like we’re doing stuff like in the big cities. Look out for it next time – it’s worth a visit. You’ll find them on Facebook too.

And there is lots more to come. Soon the Enlighten Festival will light up the foreshore and our national institutions in a glorious display of colour and illustration, and then a flotilla of balloons in all shapes and sizes will float silently across our crisp morning skies for days on end during the Balloon Extravaganza.

I really like you, Canberra.

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