I'm a Christmas convert. A few years ago, it didn't mean much more than holidays. My family never celebrated Christmas so I never did either. Until I met my husband; Christmas is like a week-long festival in his family. Now I love it because during the month of December there are countless exciting events happening around the city. Houses would light up with multicoloured lights and some manage to make it absolutely amazing, little reindeers and Santa figurines would start popping up in the office, awesome trees of all sizes begin to emerge in shops, the city would be full of jolly Christmas spirit and green, red, gold and silver tinsels everywhere.
What I love most is the family get together where we really let our hair down with champagne and cocktails in hand talking about nothing and everything; spending lots of quality time and recharging for the coming year. It's when I get to the middle of the year that I just yearn for Christmas. If you are the same, then I have just perfect fix.
Be at Sovereign Hill from Saturday 29 June to Sunday 14 July for their Christmas in July festivities. Probably not as grand as the 'real' Christmas, but it is pretty magical and absolutely magnificent which makes it an event not to be missed.
Sovereign Hill is Australia's leading outdoor museum showing Australia's marvellous goldrush history since its opening in November 1970. It has become an Australian tourism icon and has won numerous tourism awards. Known as a living museum emphasising working machinery and displays, costumed interpreters and visitor involvement, it's no wonder Sovereign Hill attracts 450,000 people each year around the globe.
So immerse yourself in the excitement of Christmas in July. Love every minute of your day at Sovereign Hill as it will be full of Christmas fun and action for all ages, indoors and out as this year's program is just fantastic!
Stroll down Sovereign Hill's Main Street admiring Victorian-style Christmas trees. Don't be surprised if your mouth drops open when you see the magnificent transformation of the outdoor museum into a winter wonderland. Bring your kids, nieces, nephews or grandkids here for an unreal 'snow' play experience. Extraordinary hands-on Christmas crafts and creative play, entertaining and brilliant performances, informative and interesting mine tours and coach rides are just one of the few excellent activities on offer.
Feeling a little adventurous? Well, you're in luck because there will be three sensational fully-guided underground journeys at the Gold Mine: Trapped, Journey through the Labyrinth of Gold and The Secret Chamber.
Go back in time to 1882 at the New Australiasian No. 2 Mine in Creswick where Australia's greatest underground mining disaster took place with Trapped. Ride the Inclined Tramway deep into the mine to experience the tragedy and courage of this dramatic story. Or go on the Journey through the Labyrinth of Gold tour and learn about the everyday life and work of Ballarat's miners as you ride the Inclined Tramway. As you descend into the world of the 19th century gold mining, you'll hear captivating stories about the miners who sought their fortunes and see original 19th century workings. The Secret Chamber tour will send chills down your spine as this eerie tour reveals the story of two Chinese miners who went to the Ballarat goldfields to find good fortune. They found fortune alright, but not where they expected!
Although these tours aren't included in your entry tickets, it is totally worth it. Now you just have to decide which one. Regular tours run during the day and bookings essential. Children under 5 are free.
Performances and Shows @ Victoria Theatre, Sovereign Hill
Apart from thrilling gold mine rides, there will also be various performances and shows at the Victoria Theatre. Go on a different kind of journey, a magical one, with A Visit from St Nicholas. Suitable for all ages, witness this wonderful story told through poetry and spectacular Victorian-style shadow puppets which will entertain young ones. Starting at 11.15am daily, make sure you get there early to get a seat.
Tis the season to be silly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Giggle and laugh while you enjoy the Pace Egg Play, which promises to be extremely silly and very amusing. Coming from an old custom where performers travelled from village to village throughout Christmas performing, these plays would always have a theme of death and rebirth. Be prepared to see this typical nonsense play at 12.30pm daily at the Victoria Theatre.
Of course, there is Beauty and the Beast, a story we all know and love to bits. It's romantic, enchanting, timeless and just beautiful. Unlike the original version though, this Beauty and the Beast production is full of awesome madness, has a good amount of wit with an added bonus of the pirate and witch. Its absurdity will have you booing, cheering, chuckling and clapping! Beginning at 2.15pm each day, don't miss this hilarious show.
On a more serious note, there will be a reading of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens at 3.30pm, which will captivate, warm your hearts, and get you all into the Christmas spirit.
Shows aside, there are plenty of activities for the creative cats out there. Show your imaginative flair making Christmas decorations. Create a traditional wooden peg angel and join in some hands on activities with 'snow dough' and 'fluffy stuff'. Wondering what 'snow dough' and 'fluffy stuff' are? Be at the Horse Bazaar from 11am and you'll find out!
You'll be baking up a storm at the Gingerbread Workshop. You don't need to be a Masterchef to bake scrumptious homemade sweets. Suitable for children aged 5 to 12, this superb workshop will have you baking and decorating yummy traditional ginger bread. You'd be so surprised at how delicious they are that you'd have trouble giving them away to someone special. A small fee applies and early booking recommended.
Be at the Gold Museum at 4pm for Post Haste where you get to choose one of four beautiful postcards, write wonderful messages on it, unleash your creativity by colouring it and mail it to that someone special (yourself included). This is suitable for all ages so don't be shy, don't ask why, just come for a great time!
As well as all the terrific workshops and activities, there will also be gold panning, coach rides, chandlemaking, bowling plus all the daily favourites so you won't have a minute to spare at Sovereign Hill.
Food & Drink @ Sovereign Hill
The best thing about Christmas is the enticing and mouthwatering food and drink. Although you probably can't get a Christmas feast, but you definitely won't go home hungry as there are plentiful to eat at Sovereign Hill.
Warm your bellies with delectable Christmas treats with lip-smacking shortbread, tasty mince tarts, succulent turkey and heavenly traditional pudding. Treat your rumbling tummy with a delightful mini-Christmas Pudding from the Hope Bakery, grab something to take away from the Universal Transit Office or the Sovereign Hill Cafe, or dine in and chill at the New York Bakery or the United Sates Hotel Dining Room. With so many choices on offer, you won't have hunger pains at all during your visit to Sovereign Hill.
Winter Exhibitions @ the Gold Museum, Sovereign Hill
In addition to all the awesome Christmas events throughout the day, don't miss fascinating winter exhibitions at the Gold Museum including Anne Frank - A History for Today and Letters of the Goldfields. Come and see the travelling displaying from Anne Frank House in Amsterdam where you'll see photos of Anne Frank, her family and others who hid with her in the Second World War. This exhibition focuses on the cultural, religious and political diversity in all societies as well as the significance of broad-mindedness, mutual respect, human rights and democracy.
When you're done with Anne Frank, don't forget to visit Letters of the Goldfields exhibition where you'll see examples of correspondence of those living on the Ballarat goldfields. These letters to and from family and friends show accomplishments, hardship, everyday hopes and dreams as well as realities and worries of life during the 1850s and 60s.
Times, Prices & Other Information @ Sovereign Hill
Sovereign Hill is open from 10am to 5pm every day and until 5.30pm during daylight saving. Gold Museum is open from 9.30am to 5.30pm and until 6pm during day light saving. Unlimited on-site parking available.
Tickets cost $47/adult, $37.60/concession and $21.40/child (5-15). Family passes are $117.50 which includes 2 adults & up to 4 children (bargain!) or $85.30/single parent family which includes 1 adult & up to 3 children (also a bargain).
Entry includes a magnificent day of fab activities including Gold Museum. Additional charges for Gold Mine Tours and Coach Rides start from $4. See their website for more information.
Consider a gold pass which includes the captivating Gold Museum, unlimited ultimate coach rides, three thrilling mine tours, one splendid gold souvenir bottle and one free return pass for day entry. Tickets start from just $38 and you get so much more. Talk about awesome value!
For more information about Christmas in July and Sovereign Hill, please see their website.