Carols in the Domain

annual events, holidays, Sydney Leave a reply

Partner-in-Crime and I had a muy busy weekend, full of both holiday tidings and good cheer. Saturday was our chance  for a real Sydney holiday tradition – Carols in the Domain. I was overwhelmed – in a great way – with the display of festivity and Australian culture.

Carols in the Domain in an annual event that draws somewhere in the neighborhood of 100,000 people to the Domain – a huge park in the heart of the city. It’s one of the largest events of the year, and raises money for the Salvos (Salvation Army).

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We arrived at 3p.m. to meet up with our favorite couples, Mr. and Mrs. Garcia of Garcia Down Under fame and Mr. and Mrs. Mimi and Joe who are Gone on a Lucky Country (I get a kick out of this because we all had a long discussion about what we should call each other on our respective blogs, given that “fellow blogger” gets a bit unwieldy and impersonal). By the time we arrived, the lawn was already packed with groups of families and friends spread out on picnic blankets.

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Mimi and Joe have a ginormous picnic blanket with more than enough room for all of us. This was good because, as the lawn got ever fuller and fuller, we had a comfortable amount of space for the six of us to settle without getting cozier than comfort dictates. Hey, we’re Americans – we like our space! And, whenever we all get together, there is guaranteed to be far more than enough food. Cheese, crackers, cold cut sandwiches, dips, veggies, sweets. Undeterred by the “no glass” policy, Mimi and I both brought along heaps of boxed wine to sustain us. P-i-C made a valiant effort at trying to entice us to eat the traditional Australian Christmas dish of mince pies, but none but he could stomach the idea of those sickly sweet “treats.”

The weather started out, in Australian parlance, quite dodgy … cold and a bit rainy, but after a quick sprinkle, the sun came out and we put the umbrellas and long-sleeved shirts away, in favor of t-shirts and tank tops (as is befitting Christmas?). Our attire also consisted of an array of holiday themed hats, thanks to Madame Garcia who has been to Carols in the Domain a couple of times before, and knew the lay of the land.

I rocked a couple of different hats …

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A couple of other festive hats in our vicinity:

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The object of all this fanciful revelry is an evening concert featuring a whole army of acts performing Christmas carols. The show is broadcast live, and apparently draws huge ratings. The organizers do a nice job of booking a range of different types of performers, all of whom only perform one or two songs, and the whole show clipped right along, even with frequent stops in the real-time action for commercial breaks.

The hosts of the show were a cloying pair of radio DJs who did a great job of being adorable and plugging the corporate sponsors at every avenue. One of the weirdest moments was an obviously pre-recorded “interview” with Jack Black, which was really just a long ad for Gulliver’s Travels – one of the event’s sponsors. At the end of the interview, the cutesie male host “asked” him what his favorite carol was, and his video manifestiation launched into a hilarious version of “Little Drummer Boy,” which he did not know any of the actual words to, aside from “parumpapumpum.”

Another one of the performers later on in the night, an Australian Idol contestant/winner of some sort, also did not know the words – to “All I Want for Christmas is You” – but to more squirm-inducing/less humorous effect.

The rest of the performances ranged from good to excellent. Early on, in order to liberate the parents of little ones, kiddie heartthrobs The Wiggles performed and introduced Santa. A lot of the adult performers were Australian TV talent show winners, and I was most taken with a couple of country singers, who sang with earnest simplicity and heart, rather than showing off their multi-octave range. I was, of course, also enamored with the cast of Jersey Boys, who supposedly raced across town during their intermission to sing their retro-inspired contribution. The most unique performance was a tap number by the Tap Dogs, and a crew of little tappers.

The headliner of the show was Josh Groban, who sang three songs, though none of them carols, per se. I won’t lie … I got swept up in the emotion of “Raise Me Up,” particularly thinking about family and friends at home, as we looked out over a sea of candlelight.

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The beautiful night ended with a round of fireworks. If I can tell you one thing about Sydneysiders, it is that they like their fireworks. That is just fine by me because I adore fireworks. A large display was shot over the stage as the whole cast assembled for a sweetly enthusiastic finale medley. It felt so old fashioned and wholesome, as everyone on the lawn got up an danced, sang along, and embraced their families and close friends. The weather and the lack of bulky clothing may be strange for the holiday, but on this night, the spirit was exactly right.

Tomorrow, our brush with fame …

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