Civic Square transforms into home of DESIGN Canberra Festival 2019

Released 04/11/2019

Installations, illustrations, pop-up bars, live entertainment and activities will transform Civic Square for the next three weeks as part of the DESIGN Canberra Festival 2019.

In its sixth year and through a growing recognition of Canberra as a global city of design, the festival is using a City Renewal Authority City Grant to help create a dedicated hub in the heart of Civic.

The theme for the festival this year, which runs from 4 to 24 November, is “Utopia - to harness the power of imagination to shape the future of design, in Canberra and in the world”.

City Renewal Authority chief executive Malcolm Snow said the transformation of Civic Square into a hub of activity and ideas throughout November, aligned with one of the Authority’s core objectives of creating welcoming and engaging public spaces in the city precinct.

“The art of successful place-making and the vision of the DESIGN Canberra Festival are synergistic, bringing together architecture, urban design, social and environmental sustainability best practice, visual and festive arts, and natural and cultural history to create appealing and inviting public spaces,” Mr Snow said.

The festival hub in Civic Square will host workshops, talks, tours, music, pop-up bars and activities, such as yoga and social running, each working week during the festival. The showpieces of Civic Square include a large painted ground design by artist Megan Hinton, a sculptural pavilion designed by the University of Canberra, and a large-scale map of Canberra’s city centre created by illustrator Peita Blythe.

The Civic Square program will also include the Visible City speaker series, which brings together inspirational and sometimes radical perspectives, with contemporary case studies in urban renewal to inform and inspire decision makers and everyday citizens.

Craft ACT chief executive and artistic director of the festival, Rachael Coghlan, said renown international designers are joining Canberra’s burgeoning design community to exhibit, speak and inspire audiences at ACT’s fastest growing festival.

“DESIGN Canberra has resonated with Canberrans, the design sector and design lovers near and far because design is in Canberra’s DNA. This year’s program will be full of new ideas, conversations, and innovations to further inspire what makes Canberra a living design laboratory,” Dr Coghlan said.

“Whether you’re a lover of design, travel, culture or simply enjoy getting amongst the action, the DESIGN Canberra Festival offers versatility to suit everyone’s taste. Festival favourites – open studios, open homes and architecture tours – are back again in 2019.”

Last year, a record 112,844 people attended the festival, while this year, a big turnout is anticipated at over 200 events and activities across Canberra as part of the DESIGN Canberra 2019 program.

“We are honoured to present such an exciting program of events for this year’s festival with support from the City Renewal Authority and our other sponsors. I look forward to the community visiting our many events to see what we have in store,” Dr Coghlan said.

For more information about the festival and a list of events, visit

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