What is on in the lead up to Christmas in Brisbane
Top 10 Christmas Experiences in Brisbane
From the beginning of November, we begin the build up to Christmas. It actually all starts in the middle of October when the first Christmas items start appearing in stores and keeps building over the months, with Christmas day itself almost being an anti-climax.
So let's enjoy Christmas as it now is, a long and fun celebration that leads up to Christmas day itself. Here is a guide to some of the best Christmas experiences in Brisbane.
1. Christmas Spirit
There is something about the Christmas season. People are supposed to be more stressed, but in fact people relax, become more friendly and are generally nicer to each other. Maybe all it takes is to begin planning your Christmas and you are in that mindset.
Tips on how to get into the Christmas spirit:
Realise Christmas is coming.
Think about how pleasant it is to be nice to people (after all, you don't want to be on Santa's naughty list).
Go out and do nice things.
Start to buy Christmassy things, such as presents, food and decorations.
As Christmas approaches, do nice things and wish people Merry Christmas.
Start giving out Christmas presents. From about now, whenever I see a friend, I will give them a present.
2. Christmas Shopping
Let's start with the one thing that everyone has to do over the Christmas period, and that is to shop. I actually love Christmas shopping and I am a guy. To enjoy buying gifts you need the right attitude. Instead of browsing for the things that I could buy, what I do is sit down and think about the person I need to buy a gift for. I think about what they like to like to wear, what they like to do and things they have said. A perfect present usually just pops into my head.
Of course, everyone has their own strategy. Some people just buy random gifts during the year and then work out who they are going to give them to when Christmas comes. Other people create a list and plan meticulously. Others hide from family and friends so they don't have to give gifts. Of course, the rest of us are the reason why shops open for longer hours until they are open for 24 hours just before Christmas. IE; the last minute panic Christmas shoppers.
Tips for Christmas shopping
Shop early for deals on Christmas essentials such as decorations and Christmas puddings.
Avoid rush times, and go early on weekdays to do your shopping or late when Christmas late night shopping is on.
If you are buying online, make sure you order early enough for items to arrive.
Try and shop local and support Queensland and Australian businesses.
3. Christmas Markets
Christmas is the time of the night market. They will start to pop everywhere, often where you least expect them. Keep watching Weekend Notes for information about Summer and Christmas markets.
I am not going to try and list all the Christmas markets, but some include the South Bank Christmas Market (from 11 am to 8 pm, everyday from Dec 11 up until Christmas) and The Brisbane Twilight Market (December 4th 4-pm).
It is hard to plan what you want to buy with marketing shopping. If you see something wonderful, just buy it.
As markets only open for limited times, you have to plan your shopping sprees.
Many market holders do mail order or allow you to buy online, so if you are not sure if you want to buy something grab their business card.
4. Christmas Movies and Entertainment
Christmas time is when the classic Christmas movies start to make a return. While seeing the latest Christmas movies in the theatres are run, a favourite is to see classic Christmas movies at the South Bank Streets beach from December 17. There is no better way to enjoy a Christmas movie while sitting in the water cooling off.
There are also other Christmas entertainment for kids (and the young at heart) around Brisbane. One of the highlights is the Myer Christmas Parade & Pantomime held nightly at 6:30 pm at the Queen Street Mall from Dec 11 to Dec 20.
Tips for entertainment
The Christmas school holidays are always a challenge for parents to try and keep kids entertained for a budget.
There are activities on everywhere, especially at shopping malls, but also look at other places such as libraries (especially the state library).
5. Christmas Carols
While the IGA Lord Mayor's Christmas Carols on Dec 12 at 5pm are the main event for carols, it is not the only one. On Dec 13 at the Roma Street Parklands there is an afternoon of carols and Christmas entertainment from 2 - 5 pm. Closer to Christmas there is the Hillsong Brisbane Southbank Christmas Carols. These run from Dec 17 - 20 at 6:45 pm.
There are also carols at numerous local parks and churches. So if you can't take your kids to the big events, you can also look for your local events as well.
Tips for carols
You don't need to bring candles, you can now just download a candle app for your phone.
Practice the carols with your kids before going, so they feel ready to sing along.
6. Christmas Lights & Decorations
Christmas time means that Christmas decorations and lights start to appear. The most famous are the store front Windows at Myers and the Christmas tree in King George Square (which will be lit up on Nov 27 at 6:30 pm). Actually, compared with some other cities around the world, Brisbane's Christmas decorations are fairly laid back but visitors and kids will enjoy the ones in the city.
There are also a number of private residences and businesses that decorate for Christmas. 4KQ runs and annual Christmas light competition, and when the winners are announced, they will publish a useful online map so that you can easily go and tour the best lights in your area.
My personal preference is to walk around a neighbourhood with several decorations on the 4KQ list while also spotting other Christmas decorations.
For your own decorations, I recommend making your own. I make my own Christmas cards with gold and silver painted gum nuts and gum leaves. These are a favourite from my friends abroad.
7. Christmas Lunch & Dinner
Australians have long since abandoned the traditional Christmas roast, enjoying more salads and seafood while mixing these up with a come back in the traditional Christmas fare. The biggest challenge is buying the things you want. Many items like Christmas puddings go up in price as Christmas approaches. Seafood, especially prawns, can end up in short supply close to Christmas. Luckily many seafood markets let you pre-order for Christmas.
Many people are going to be having Christmas dinner at home, but why not think a little bit out of the box. Brisbane has such great parks with barbecue facilities, that we often head to one of these for lunch and activities. It can be a great way to keep the meal informal while giving the kids a chance to play with their new presents.
Tips for Christmas Lunch & Dinner
Families these days can be complicated, which means many people end up eating lunches and dinners with various parts of the family for days. So keep it light and simple.
Quality over quantity
Mix up your day. We often have a lunch with friends in the park and dinner with family members.
Buy or pre-order early what you need for a Christmas meal.
8. Christmas Volunteering
Part of the spirit of Christmas is generosity and giving. One of the best ways to do this is through volunteering. There is actually quite a lot of volunteer opportunities raising money for various causes. Some friends do the gift wrapping at shopping malls every year. These gift wrapping stations not only make your gifts look beautiful but also donate the fee to charity. I tend not to do this on the grounds that I don't have any gift wrapping skills at all.
For the last few years I have been volunteering with the Brisbane Basket Brigade. This organisation gives gift and food packages to families in need around Brisbane. You can volunteer your time or donate money or gifts.
Others include your regular well known charities that need extra volunteers over the Christmas period, such as Ronald McDonald House, Meals on Wheels, The Smith Family and the St Vincent de Paul Society.
Tips for volunteering
- Volunteering is a great way to help kids realise that Christmas is not just about getting something under the Christmas tree.
- Don't just think about volunteering for one day, may charities need volunteers all year round.
9. Christmas Day
Christmas day is of course the day to spend with your family. But not everyone has family in Brisbane, so that raises the question about what to do on Christmas day itself. Of course pretty much everything will be closed. Actually it is not as bad as it used to be, but you are pretty not going to be able to buy anything.
The good news is that public transportation will be running. In the city and in some suburban locations you will find some 24 hour convenience stores open. So it isn't like a visitor will starve to death. You might also find some family run restaurants and takeaway shops open. but as they are usually small and local I can never find a list of what will be open.
If you do want to go out, then the four and five star hotels are your best bet for restaurants. But you usually need to book ahead for meals.
For travelers, the best option is simply go to parks and beaches to use the free barbecue facilities. You will actually see groups having breakfast, lunch and dinner in the various parks around Brisbane. You might even consider heading to the Gold Coast's Surfer's Paradise. Being a centre for tourism activity, you are going to find lots of people out and about and a few places still open on the day.
Another option is to go to a church service. While Catholics have a midnight mass, other religions will have events on at different times on Christmas day. Most churches are welcoming to everyone, even non-Christians who are just curious.
Tips for Christmas Day
Most things start to shut down by Christmas Eve, though you will find some restaurants still open on Christmas Eve.
Shops stay open late, even 24 hours, a few days before Christmas. This is great for grabbing fresh produce for your Christmas meal.
Why not consider going to your local park for a Christmas lunch. While people do go to the parks, there are rarely crowded at Christmas.
In fact, most families most people don't really want to spend the whole day home, so mix up your day, especially if the kids have presents they need to go out to play with.
10. Christmas Parties
Christmas can be a continual stream of parties. It is the one thing I don't like about the Christmas season, is that I often don't have a chance to see friends because they are attending Christmas parties.