Essential Christmas events

Christmas shouldn’t just be about presents and food. Embrace the season’s feel-good spirit with experiences that are fun for young and old.

Christmas kids

The Myer Animated Christmas Windows in the Bourke Street Mall have been a holiday highlight for generations of Melburnians. Don’t miss the 63rd edition’s magic! Then head to Melbourne Museum for Make Believe: The Story of the Myer Christmas Windows. This exhibition’s sketches, prototypes, props and animatronics celebrate more than 250 characters from windows past. Marvel at the skill and artistry that have been bringing a book, nursery rhyme or film to life every year since 1956.

Check out the fun festive shows that have little ones in mind, like Santa’s Christmas Spectacular. His workshop is revealed during the Wonderland Junior fun park’s circus adventure, which is packed with acrobatics, singing, dancing and hilarious antics. Santa himself will be checking in, plus there are rides and games after the show.

Other kids entertainment includes classic animated movie The Snowman presented with a live orchestra, and Peter Combe’s Christmas Album: Live in Concert. Prepare for a grand sing-along to festive favourites like Christmas is Coming and Happy Christmas to You.

A group of performers dressed like Christmas elves performing an acrobatic trick on stage

Santa’s Christmas Spectacular

Christmas Festival

There’s an amazing array of free sights, sounds and experiences for the whole family during Melbourne’s Christmas Festival. The centrepiece of the Federation Square festival hub, aka Christmas Square, is the 16-metre Christmas tree. Be there for the Official Tree Lighting Ceremony on 30 November! Other highlights include Santa’s House, festive films and projections, and the return of Melbourne’s best Yuletide selfie spot, the Giant Christmas Bauble.

The festivities continue beyond Christmas Square, with more animated projections at iconic locations and lots of decorations in Melbourne’s streets and laneways. They are being transformed into wonderlands of holly, baubles and tinsel.

Queensbridge Square will also be filled with thousands of brightly coloured ribbons and a bespoke artwork from Melbourne artist Ash Keating as part of Ribbons for Life, a new Insta-worthy interactive installation promoting TAC’s Towards Zero vision. See it all from 30 November to 25 December. Another highlight is the mini-Melbourne Gingerbread Village, raising spirits and donations for the Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Discover more with our guide to the Christmas Festival.

An old building lit up with colourful Christmas themed projections

Melbourne lights up for the Christmas Festival

Christmas cabaret

For a naughty but nice night out with friends or workmates, shimmy along to Speakeasy HQ. Their annual end-of-year showcase, I’m Dreaming of a Cabaret Christmas, promises vaudeville, dance, circus and musical acts from the far side.

Another classy cabaret destination, The Butterfly Club, presents The Seventh Annual Mama Alto Holiday Special. Gender transcendent diva Mama Alto will be joined by some special guests for this evening of vintage songs and camp excess.

A woman dressed in old fashioned clothes singing on stage

The Seventh Annual Mama Alto Holiday Special

Christmas carols

Christmas Eve simply wouldn’t be the same without Carols by Candlelight. This heart-warming community event gathers thousands of voices singing with joy and hope, and all funds raised go to Vision Australia. Musical theatre stars Marina Prior and David Campbell are among the performers leading the way this year.

Other merry musical fundraisers include Reach 4 Your Future Foundation’s Christmas Carols with High Tea. Live it up at the Hotel Windsor so that kids can explore the merits of science, technology, engineering and maths. There’s also Hello Music Carols by Daylight in support of the Starlight Children’s Foundation. This fun-filled family sing-along features the combined Australian Schools Orchestra, Santa and more!

The entrance to an old fashioned luxury hotel

Book for Christmas Carols with High Tea at Hotel Windsor

Christmas concerts

Your favourite Yuletide tunes old and new get turned up to 11 at

adds to this concert’s majesty with songs like White Christmas and Silent Night, but everyone can join in. Psst! Santa will be popping in too!

Keep the season’s cheer flowing with Handel’s Messiah at Melbourne Town Hall. The Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra present their annual performance of this much-loved oratorio, continuing a holiday tradition established in 1853.

Arts Centre Melbourne’s monthly Morning Melodies concert series glistens with tinsel and fairy lights for its December outing. Three fab female vocalists lead the Christmas Melodies sing-along, which also features The Salvation Army Melbourne Staff Band and National Boys Choir.

A woman wearing a ballroom gown

Soprano Greta Bradman will be performing at Christmas with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.