A FUNNY thing happened to me the other night; I was walking through the city and I started to feel... Christmassy.

No, it wasn’t fever — I checked. And I wasn’t drunk; all I’d had was a flat white and a doughnut from Cibo. On second thoughts, it could have been the sugar...

But no, I’m positive it was a genuine feeling of Christmas cheer. You’ll have to excuse my confusion, given for the last few years the festive season in the city hasn’t actually been very festive at all.

Back in 2013, the only Christmas decoration to be found in our premier shopping strip was a single set of blue baubles which, as I wrote at the time, looked like they had been “plonked on the end of Rundle Mall like an unfortunate holiday haemorrhoid”.

Last year, things somehow got worse, with the theme of “an Aussie Christmas” represented by some unfortunate cardboard cut-outs of thongs and beach towels, along with a few weird sculptures of angry men with breasts that looked disturbingly like Clive Palmer.

This year, however, I am pleased to report that the banners proclaiming it’s “Christmas in the city” no longer seem sadly ironic.

This year, Adelaide seems to have finally worked out what Christmas is.

There’s just one catch: you can only experience it at night.

At night Rundle Mall sparkles, with strings of fairy lights draped along its length like a canopy of pretty icicles, heralded by oversized, illuminated Christmas presents you can walk through at either end.

At night the Adelaide Town Hall is lit up with a fabulous yuletide projection display featuring colourful animations of a gingerbread house, presents, and even a Hills Hoist.

Even the concrete wasteland of Victoria Square looks Christmassy at night, with the giant tree twinkling away in the corner.

But come daytime, the lights go off, the projections shut down, and I’m sorry to say the decorations all start to look a little bit... sad.

Which is unfortunate, because due to our crazy trading hours, day time is when most people will be looking at them.

The Town Hall has a few wreaths up, which are quite nice, and the Victoria Square tree is fine, in the way Christmas trees are when their lights aren’t switched on. Not enchanting, but fine.

But for the third year in a row, poor old Rundle Mall just can’t take a trick. By evening it might look like a magical icy wonderland, but in the harsh summer sunshine its hanging icicle lights look more like flapping bits of plastic, like the tatty old ribbons that used to serve as corner deli doors in the ’80s.

Worse, without the benefit of twinkling lights those giant presents look a bit like cages — an effect heightened when people walk inside and grab the bars to peer out. I’m sure someone with less taste than me could probably make a joke about “Christmas Island”, but I’m classy so I won’t.

All of this wouldn’t be so much of a problem if Rundle Mall had a night-time trade, but it doesn’t really. This Christmas it closes at either 5pm, 7pm or 9pm (I’d try to explain which hours are on which days, but you need a degree in spreadsheet management to understand it), and rather annoyingly, the sun goes down at about 8.30pm.

So apart from the three days when the Mall is open until midnight, most nights those pretty illuminated decorations will just sit there twinkling away on their own, with no shoppers to admire them.

Still, at least it’s not Clive Palmer with boobs.


Originally published in The Advertiser, December 5, 2015. CLICK HERE to read the original article.