Gayle is an accountant. Shh – don’t tell. She thinks she’s a writer.
Published November 22nd 2016
It's Festive, It's Fun and It's Free
Christmas is in the air, letterboxes are stuffed with gift catalogues, trees are decorated and plans are being made. Before long children will be opening advent calendars and counting the sleeps to the big day. Mixed with all of the excitement, joy and festivity comes a financial burden. Nobody wants to disappoint children and in keeping with the spirit of Christmas, Melbourne has turned on so much for free you will be spoilt for choice. But then, why choose, there's time to do it all.
Christmas Tree in Melbourne 2013 (Image by Chris Phutully from Australia - Uploaded by russavia) -CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons)
1. Christmas Festival Tree Lighting Ceremony Be on hand to witness the beginning of Melbourne's Christmas Festival. What child doesn't love the moment the switch is flicked and the Christmas tree lights up? Imagine their wonder as the city's giant tree springs to life. The Tree Lighting Ceremony, will be carried out with much fanfare with the help of the Starlight Foundation. The evening's host, Brian Nankervis, will be supported by Santa Claus, Alex Papps from Play School, All Day Fritz and Nay Nay from ABC Kids. The Salvation Army Band will help get everyone in the festive mood and the night will culminate in a magnificent sound and light show. The ceremony will be held at Christmas Square (City Square) at 44-86 Swanston Street on 25h November from 6.30pm to 9pm. Find more details here.
The Melbourne Town Hall on a Christmas Evening. (Image from the City of Melbourne Facebook Page).
No Christmas in Melbourne would be complete without the Myer Christmas window. This year's display is based on the children's book 'One Christmas Eve,' the heart-warming tale of a little girl's visit to her Grandparents in St Kilda, her trip to Luna Park, a magical and imaginative ride on the carousel and a very special Christmas gift. The very Melbourne displays incorporating more than 10,000 lights and 5,000 figurines include Luna Park, the Palais Theatre and the Sydney Myer Music Bowl. The charming animated window displays will captivate child and adult alike. The windows, at the Myer store in Bourke Street, are on display from 7:30am to 1.00am daily from 9th November 2016 to 5th January 2017. Find more details here.
Myer 2013 Christmas Window Display - Gingerbread Friends (Image by Chris Phutully from Australia CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons)
3. Christmas Square Melbourne does nothing by halves and for the festive season even renames City Square to Christmas Square. The Square will become a magic forest where a giant Christmas tree, Santa's house, a nativity scene, nutcracker soldiers and interactive candy canes can be found. By night the light projections and soundscapes are a wonder to see. Santa will be in attendance daily (10am to 12pm and 1pm to 3pm and 4pm to 7pm on Fridays). There will be free photos with Santa. Children will be treated to story time sessions on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from the 5th to 21st December. Kinderling radio DJ's will be playing Christmas party tunes between 12pm and 1pm on Saturday 26th November and 3rd December. Christmas Square is at 44-86 Swanston Street and is open every day, 10am to 11pm from 25th November to 25th December. Find more details here.
Part of the 2012 Gingerbread Village (Photo from Gingerbread Village by Epicure Facebook Page)
Your children's eyes will pop at the Melbourne Town Hall where Epicure is presenting its Gingerbread Village for the sixth year in a row. 800 miniature Christmas trees are just the beginning in this village made from a staggering 500 kilograms of gingerbread, 360 kilograms of royal icing and 150 kilograms of marzipan. This event is free but a gold coin donation is requested to raise funds for the Royal Children's Hospital Foundation. The Gingerbread Village will be on display and 10am to 6pm from 1st to 10th December and 10am to 8pm daily from the 11th to the 24th December at the Melbourne Town Hall, 90 – 130 Swanston Street, Melbourne. Find more details here.
5. Christmas Light Show Melbourne Town Hall will once again be transformed into Christmas wonders in a spectacular light show which due to popular demand has now been extended to Federation Square. The light show will run 9pm to 10.20pm from 30th November to 25th December. The Town Hall is at 90-130 Swanston Street and Federation Square is on the corner of Swanston and Flinders Streets. Find more details here.
2013 Melbourne Town Hall Christmas Projection (Image by Chris Phutully from Australia CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons).
6. Santa's Post Box We've all posted letters to Santa for our excited little ones but how tickled will they be if they receive a reply from Santa himself. Address your child's letter to Santa Claus at North Pole, 9999 and drop it in Santa's Mail Box at Christmas Square (City Square 44-68 Swanston Street). Letters dropped in the box between the 8th November and 12th December will receive replies from Santa; don't forget a stamp and the return address. Find more details here.
7. Visit Santa Claus Your child sitting on Santa's knee, whispering their Christmas wish list is the quintessential Christmas scene. Santa will be in attendance at Christmas (City) Square at 44-86 Swanston Street, daily (10am to 12pm and 1pm to 3pm and 4pm to 7pm on Fridays). There will be free photos with Santa. There will be free photos with Santa. Find more details here.
Santa will also be visiting most suburban shopping centres so check times at your local centre but be aware these are not free and photos must be purchased.
Visit Santa and whisper a Christmas wish (Image by kakisky via morgeFile)
8. Elf Twinkle Toes Christmas Circus and Christmas Carols Christmas and circuses are both delights to children. Put them together and you've got a sure winner. Dress your children up in their Christmas finery and treat them to the Elf Twinkle Toes Christmas Circus where they will witness in wonder the magic, juggling, diabolo, balloon work and the general merriment that is Elf Twinkle Toes. The show is on Wednesday 7th December from 6pm to 7.45pm at Cranbourne Library, 65 Berwick-Cranbourne Road, Cranbourne. The show is free but bookings are required. Find more details here.
9. Carols by Candlelight at Jells Park
Jells Park is an amazing public place year round but at Christmas it becomes extra special as the City of Monash puts on its annual Carols by Candlelight. Monash community members are invited to attend this fantastic free event hosted by Pete Smith. The program kicks off at 4pm with Tinsel Town celebrations. There will be free rides and children's activities and an opportunity for photos with Santa Claus. This is followed at 7.15pm with pre-show entertainment from Bethany Fisher and her dancers. The Carols by Candlelight main concert commences at 8pm and runs until 10pm but don't head home after that. If the weather is good the night will end with a spectacular fireworks display. Who could ask for anything more. The event runs from 4pm to 10pm on Sunday 11th December at Jells Park, Waverley Road, Wheelers Hill. Find more details here.
10. Christmas Craft Workshops and Crafternoons for Children
Bring the children (5 to 12 years olds) along to make and decorate their own Christmas stocking or decorations to take home. Free workshops are running across a number of Melbourne libraries. At Somerville Library, Frankston-Flinders Road, Somerville the workshop is between 4pm and 5pm on 13th December. At Fairfield Library, 121 Station Street, Fairfield the Crafternoon is between 4pm and 5pm on 6th December. At Reservoir Library, 23 Edwardes Street, Reservoir, the Crafternoon is between 4pm and 5pm on 8th December. At Mornington Library, Vancouver Street, Mornington the workshop is between 4pm to 5pm on 14th December. At Hastings Library, 7 High Street, Hastings the workshop is between 4pm and 5pm on 15th December.