It was our first Christmas in Melbourne and we wanted to share with you the fantastic Christmas activities with kids in Melbourne that we explored in December.
I have been in warm climates before for Christmas and it always feels a bit strange and Australia was no exception. December also brings the end of the school year and so for Australians with school children, it is a very busy time of year. Since we were still settling here we didn’t have many commitments and so we spent two weekends in December camping. Even though there is certainly no snow in December, they still celebrate with those traditional Christmas icons – snowmen, Santa in his cozy outfit, which just feels really strange. I felt like I was forcing Christmas a bit – putting up decorations, turning the Christmas carols on, especially since all of our Christmas things we left in Canada. There weren’t all those Christmas events littered through the December calendar like dance concerts, work parties, and get togethers with family and friends.
This actually made me homesick as I really missed all those hallmarks that tell me it is the Christmas season. I saw all the Facebook photos of the snow and I actually would have traded in the sunshine here for that snow and chilly temperatures. BUT, all of these things didn’t matter to the kids and when Christmas morning came, they were just as excited. It was a sweltering 35 degrees on Christmas Day and we had a mixed traditional/Aussie Christmas. We still cooked a turkey and had the traditional meal, but we did go to the beach in the afternoon for a few hours. It was wonderful having my parents here to celebrate with us as Christmas and family just go together. We were able to Skype lots of family and friends on the day and even though we couldn’t be there in person, it was great to be there virtually.
We wanted to explore all the Christmas activities with kids in Melbourne and so here is what we got up to in December.
Christmas Square in the CBD
This is where we came to mail our letters to Santa in a giant special mailbox with delivery straight to the North Pole. The kids did notice that you need a stamp here to post your letter to ensure a response. This is also the place to meet Santa, decked out in the full Santa suit and we felt mighty sorry for him. They also have a Mistletoe Bridge and a few other activities to wander through.
The Myer Christmas Window
Myer is equivalent to Canada’s Hudson Bay Co with a long history in the city and every year for the past 61 years they create a series of Christmas displays telling a popular Aussie Christmas story. These are not static displays, but 3D, moving scenes with sound. It is a tradition in Melbourne for families to bring their children down to the Bourke Street Mall each year to see the new Christmas window and this is a must Christmas activity with kids in Melbourne. We queued will the masses one weekend day and while it was mildly interesting, I think the tradition of the windows is the most special part. Sidney Myer was a much loved businessman that revolutionized the way Melbournians shopped and his idea of creating these windows each year as a gift to the children of Melbourne is a great story.
The Epicure Gingerbread Village
Another popular site Christmas activity with kids in Melbourne is the gingerbread village created by Epicure and again we queued up for our turn to wander through the Melbourne icons made out of gingerbread and lots of sugar. Our kids have been in Melbourne long enough to recognize the iconic places: Luna Park, the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground), the Children’s Hospital and so on. What they probably would have really enjoyed is the day they smash it all up and you get to use your hammer to destroy and eat. It was fun for a walk through and it is always amazing what can be created with sugar!
An Outdoor Movie in the Park
This is a popular summer tradition in the city and there are lots of opportunities to sprawl out on the lawn and watch a movie under the stars. Since it is summer here and not dark until after 9 it means a late night for little kids. There are lots of venues you can pay to attend your outdoor movie, but our local Council ran three movie nights in local parks in December and the kids loved watching Home Alone out under the stars. Best of all this was FREE and it was a great community event with families bringing snacks and blankets out for the evening.
Carols by Candlelight
The local churches come together to run “Carols in the Park” at various local parks throughout Melbourne in December. Usually there is a sausage sizzle, followed by carols. We were really looking forward to attending our local Carols, but unfortunately they were rained out. Another tradition on Christmas Eve is to watch the Carols by Candlelight on television (you can also attend in person) hosted for charity. The show highlights various famous singers and choirs singing carols and it was a great way to spend Christmas Eve.
Projection light show Town Hall
This is another event that the kids had to stay up late for. If you have seen the Magic Kingdom Castle projection show at Disney World, this is the same idea. Instead of Elsa turning the castle into ice and Tinkerbell sparkling her way through the castle (oh I love Disney World!) you have nutcrackers and colours and patterns representing Melbourne’s diverse population come alive in a fantastic light show projected on Town Hall. This was probably our kids’ favorite Christmas activity in Melbourne and definitely worth staying up late for. The only drag was that the trams in front of Town Hall run throughout the 10 minute show and stop at the traffic lights right in front of you blocking your view at times.
Christmas Lights at the Boulevard, Ivanhoe
Since it gets dark so late we hadn’t seen too many Christmas lights because we just aren’t usually out after 9pm! However there are lots of houses that do hang up lights and there are certain streets notorious for putting on a good show. One of these is the Boulevard, nearby in Ivanhoe. The thing to do is drive (or preferably walk so you can linger at the good displays) with the crowds. This event is sponsored by the local Council and there is security, vendors selling light up junk, service groups cooking up sausages and instrumental groups playing carols. This goes on for the month before Christmas with traffic forced in one direction down the street and I can’t imagine the nightmare of living in this area at that time of year with the traffic congestion.
So even though I was missing the snow, we really enjoyed these memorable Christmas activities with kids in Melbourne.