Disclaimer: Due to COVID-19 concerns, many events might be canceled, postponed, or changed into limited versions, sometimes at very short notice. Please check with event organizers directly for the latest updates (view the "External Resources" section below).
When the Christmas season comes to Melbourne, the city turns into a winter fairy tale, although in fact, it's summer in Victoria. December will surprise you with all sorts of festivities from Christmas Festival to traditional Christmas markets across the city.
Christmas Festival (November 27–December 25, 2020)
Melbourne holds a grand Christmas Festival starting in November and marking the beginning of preparations for the holiday. Magic awaits residents at many venues, including the City Square Plaza, Melbourne Town Hall, and Federation Square. For a truly magical experience, stroll down Swanston Street to view Christmas animations at State Library Victoria and static projections on Melbourne Town Hall and Princes Bridge. The Christmas Festival in Melbourne lasts until the end of the Christmas holidays.
Fed Square Christmas (November 27–December 25, 2020)
Federation Square is the central place of the holiday where a Christmas tree is put up every year and where theatrical musical performances take place. You can also meet Koorie Klaus, an Indigenous version of the internationally known Santa Klaus. Check out the very first North Pole University, and if you prefer to stay home, join a virtual Christmas workshop, which will be live-streamed from Deakin Edge Theatre. Christmas wonderland at Fed Square also lures visitors to Sky Castle—an interactive sound-and-light installation of inflatable arches that bring colorful symphony across the square.
Melbourne Christmas lights
Some of the most impressive Christmas lights are displayed in the Ivanhoe district. The Boulevard is covered with lights from the ground to treetops. Everything starts shimmering and glowing attracting thousands of spectators after dark. Tennyson Avenue in Preston and Gordon Grove are other spots to enjoy Christmas lights. The computerized system manages over 40,000 lights creating the most beautiful combinations of shows, videos, and carols. Finally, Lebanon Crescent shows off more than 100,000 lights, and also features the Polar Express to take you around.
From November until late December, Melbourne and surrounding towns feature cozy German-style Christmas markets. Christmas Market Melbourne (November 21–December 13, 2020) is a local community market at Forest Green Market in Plumpton, which is the actual Christmas tree farm. Here, you will find lots of local arts and crafts from Christmas decorations to jewelry. For those who get hungry, there will be food trucks. The weekend program promises lots of holiday fun: Santa Claus visit, Polar Express ride, and even a Christmas-tree-cutting experience. The good news is that the entrance is free and pets are welcome.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
On December 24th, at 5 pm, all the stores are closed, and people go to celebrate Christmas with their families, friends, and relatives. Christmas is celebrated with a picnic, a homemade dinner or a barbecue; because of the hot weather, few people sit at home on this day. One of the favourite vacation spots on this day is the Royal Botanic Garden where you can play cricket or just sit back and enjoy a peaceful day in the sun. Concerts of chamber music are held here as well. It is worth mentioning that many famous Melbourne attractions remain open on Christmas Day. Therefore, you have a chance to visit the Melbourne Zoo and Aquarium, or go up to the Eureka Skydeck observation deck or ride the Melbourne Star Wheel to enjoy the charming panorama of the Christmas city. Many shops remain open for Christmas.
Carols by Candlelight (December 24, 2020; virtual event)
On the evening of December 24, the famous Christmas concert Carols by Candlelight (carols with candles) is held in Sidney Myer Music Bowl in the Royal Botanic Gardens. Starting in the evening, people light millions of candles and sing their favorite Christmas songs, carols, and listen to performances by popular Australian artists, famous television characters, and local choirs. The 2020 edition is different due to public health considerations. There will be the show broadcast on Channel 9. For a carol sing-along, you can also turn on the 3AW and Vision Australia Radio.