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In Australia we may be far removed from the traditional winter Christmas setting, but that doesn't mean we haven't made Christmas our own. One of the most unique Australian places you can experience Christmas is in Alice Springs. At the heart of Australia's red centre, Alice is a fabulous town with great galleries, shops, restaurants, and a thriving population from all walks of life. To see everyone come together at Christmas, why not head out to one of these fantastic community events?

The Alice Springs Town Council Christmas Carnival is an annual event to mark the festive season. This year's carnival is set for Friday 9 December from 5 to 9pm, and is already shaping up to be a fantastic night out. This free family evening is always jam packed with activities and life performers including musicians, magicians, circus performers and balloon twisters. There are also plenty of market stalls so it's the perfect place for a spot of Christmas shopping. Choose from clothes, books, jewellery, homewares, artworks and gifts.

For the children, nothing quite beats the Carnival's Secret Solar Garden. It's a hive of activity and magical spectacle with gigantic bows that puff green smoke, the king of stilts and queen of hearts juggling cream and strawberry tarts, big spots, stripy socks and candy canes. And at the Council Chamber Lawns, fancy dress is the order of the day. Not only do the kids get to dress up and join in the fun, they can also win the chance to 'Switch on the Christmas Lights'. The official lighting of the Alice Springs Christmas tree takes place at 7.30pm on the council lawns and draws a huge crowd. And for the adults, there are plenty of great bands on the main stage (under the sails) and throughout Todd Mall.

The Christmas carnival is a huge event, but it's certainly not the only way to get into the mood. In Alice Springs, Christmas decorations and lights will be on show throughout the mall and in shops all over town. Todd Mall itself offers a great place to do the Christmas shopping, or you might visit the Todd Mall Markets where you'll find stalls laden with unique and one-off gifts. The special Christmas market will take place on 11 December in 2011.

While you're in the giving mood, consider a donation to a worthwhile charity. The Fred Hollows Foundation is committed to achieving a world where no-one is needlessly blind, and Indigenous Australians enjoy the same health and life expectancy as other Australians. This is a fantastic charity and well worth your donation. Sight can be restored for as little as $25 in some countries. You can donate via phone, fax, mail or their website.

The Alice Springs Carols by Candlelight is an annual event that draws families, groups of friends and travellers to Anzac Oval. Entry is by $2 gold coin donation, and you can either bring a picnic, or take advantage of the food and drink stalls. There are always plenty of performers, and the night ends with a huge display of fireworks.

And speaking of lighting up the town, when it comes to fantastic Alice Springs Christmas decorations, sometimes it pays to head to the suburbs. Every year homes and sometimes entire streets go all out with magical and eye-catching displays. In 2010 some of the best options were in Nelson Terrace, Lovegrove Drive, Macdonnell Court, the corner of Larapinta and Bradshaw Drive and De Havilland Drive, where nearly every house took part.

It's always great to head out with the family at Christmas, and a drive in search of fantastic Alice Springs Christmas decorations and lights provides plenty of entertainment for the kids, and bonding time for the whole family. And that's just what Christmas is about.