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Published November 11th 2015
The Christmas Spirit is Alive and Well in Melbourne
Christmas is coming, shops are being decorated and plans are being made. Before long children will be counting the number of sleeps to the big day. Mixed with all of the excitement, joy and festivity can be a concern about cost. No-body 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.
The Melbourne Town Hall on a Christmas Evening. (Image from the City of Melbourne Facebook Page).
1. Christmas Festival Tree Lighting Ceremony 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, which heralds the beginning of Melbourne's Christmas Festival will be carried out with much fanfare. The evening's host, Tim Campbell, will be supported by Santa Claus, Mr Curly and the Angel, and Sesame Street's Elmo and Cookie Monster. The Salvation Army Carollers and the Australian Youth Choir 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 44-68 Swanston Street on 27th November from 6pm to 9pm. Find more details here.
Christmas Tree in Melbourne 2013 (Image by By Chris Phutully from Australia - Uploaded by russavia) -CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons)
In a tradition spanning three generations Myer has unveiled its Christmas window for the 60th time. To celebrate, this year's historically accurate displays are focussed on Melbourne in 1956, the year of the first Christmas window. Based on the children's book, 'Little Dog and the Christmas Wish' by Corinne Fenton, the windows feature Flinders Street Station, Richmond's Skipping Girl Vinegar Sign, Block Arcade, Melbourne trams and other well-known Melbourne sights. As always the animated window displays are charming and 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 10th November 2015 to 6th January 2016. Find more details here.
MYER 2013 Christmas Window Display - Gingerbread Friends (Image by By Chris Phutully from Australia CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons)
3. Christmas Square and Christmas Light Projections 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. This year Intel is sponsoring a futuristic Christmas installation. By night the light projection program will transform the Town Hall into a colourful portrayal of the 12 Days of Christmas. Santa will be in attendance daily (10am to 12pm and 1pm to 3pm) and on Friday's there will be free photos with Santa. (10pm-12pm and 1pm-3pm, and 4pm-7pm). Christmas Square is at 44-68 Swanston Street and is open every day, all day from 28th November to 25th December. Find more details here.
The Melbourne Town Hall on a Christmas Evening. (Image from the City of Melbourne Facebook Page)
Lego has been with us since 1932 and the plastic bricks we recognise today came into being in 1958. Twice named 'Toy of the Century', Lego will play a large part in Melbourne's Christmas celebrations this year. Federation Square will host the Southern Hemisphere's largest Lego Christmas Tree. At nearly 10 metres tall and made from a half a million Lego bricks it will surely be a sight to behold. What child, dwarfed by Lego, would not drop their jaw in awe? The tree will be on display from 27th November to 27th December at Federation Square on the corner of Swanston and Flinders Streets. Find more details here.
5. 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 19th December will receive replies from Santa; don't forget the return address. Find more details here.
6. Southgate Christmas Performances Every Saturday from 1pm to 5pm, during December, Southgate will come alive with children's Christmas activities. A children's Christmas show (1pm to 1.30pm) will be followed by children's arts and crafts including balloon art and face painting. (1.30pm to 3pm). The afternoon will be topped off with Christmas carols performed by the Salvation Army Carollers (3pm to 5pm). Southgate is at 3 Southgate Avenue, Southbank along the Yarra River. Find more details here.
Children can enjoy free face painting at Southgate (Image Kinderschminken by Pwstadtmarketing - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)
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 44-68 Swanston Street, daily (10am to 12pm and 1pm to 3pm) and on Friday's there will be free photos with Santa. (10pm-12pm and 1pm-3pm, and 4pm-7pm). 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 Christmas and circuses are both delights to children. Put them together and you've got a sure winner. Treat your children 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 Thursday 10th December from 10.30am to 11.30am at Library at The Dock, 107 Victoria Harbour Promenade, Docklands. 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 28th 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 the opening of Kids Zone. There will be free rides and children's activities and an opportunity for photos with Santa Claus. This is followed at 7pm with an hour of pre-show children's entertainment at Kids Zone. 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 13th December 2015 at Jells Park, Waverley Road, Wheelers Hill. Find more details here.
Christmas Storytime at the City of Stonnington Libraries (Image from Stonnington Library and Information Service Facebook Page)
10. Christmas Story Time in the City of Stonnington
The City of Stonnington will be running Christmas Story Time across all four of its libraries. Santa's Elves will be on hand telling festive stories and singing Christmas songs. Rumour has it that Santa may find time out of his busy schedule to make a personal appearance. Story times will run for 45 minutes at Prahran Library at 11am on 14th December, at Malvern Library at 11am on 15th December, at 6.45pm on 16th December, and at 2.30pm on 19th December, at Toorak/South Yarra Library at 11am on 16th December, and at Phoenix Park Library at 11am on 17th December, and 11am on 19th December. All events are free but bookings are required. Bookings can be made by following the links or ringing Prahran, (180 Greville Street, Prahran) on 8290 3344, Malvern (1255 High Street, Malvern) on 8290 1366, Toorak/South Yarra (340 Toorak Road, South Yarra) on 8290 8000 and Phoenix Park (30 Rob Roy Road, East Malvern) on 8290 4000.