Between Christmas drinks and shopping for gifts, party food and something nice to wear, this can be an expensive time of year. Never fear, there’s plenty of free festive fun in Melbourne, from a rendezvous with Santa to Myer’s famous Christmas windows.
There’s an amazing array of free sights, sounds and experiences for young and old during the Christmas Festival. The centrepiece of the Federation Square festival hub, aka Christmas Square, is the huge Christmas tree. Other highlights include Santa’s House, Beci Orpin’s A Christmas Tale, a festive film accompanied by a live choir at each screening and projections, and the return of Melbourne’s favourite Yuletide selfie spot, the Giant Christmas Bauble.
The festivities continue beyond Christmas Square, with more animated projections on iconic buildings and lots of decorations in Melbourne’s streets and laneways. They’re being transformed into wonderlands of holly, baubles and tinsel. Queensbridge Square will also be filled with thousands of brightly coloured ribbons and Melbourne artist Ash Keating’s vibrant, dripping paintings. Everywhere you look, there’s something Insta-worthy in the city this Christmas!
The Gingerbread Village is moving to Riverside Gallery at Fed Square in 2018. Spot your favourite Melbourne buildings and landmarks in miniature, all made out of pretty gingerbread, at this old-fashioned display of culinary creativity. Can you see the cheeky little gingerbread chefs getting up to mischief? Entry to the Gingerbread Village is free, but gold-coin donations are welcomed for the Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation.
Myer Animated Christmas Windows
The Myer Christmas windows in the Bourke Street Mall have been a holiday highlight for generations of Melburnians. This year, the 63rd edition of the Myer Animated Christmas Windows promises to be as magical as ever. Be there at twilight on 9 November when the 2018 theme is revealed!
Christmas Lights at Light House
Docklands architectural icon, the Light House at 888 Collins St, Docklands displays a light show from dusk to midnight, seven days a week, every day of the year. The facade of the building runs a special Christmas Light Show on the hour – head to Buluk Park for the best viewing spot.
Christmas at The District, Docklands
Docklands’ shopping and creative precinct, The District, will be filled with the season’s cheer this year. Lots of local primary school kids have got busy and imaginative for the Christmas Tree Exhibition. The Christmas Shopping Weekend’s free entertainment includes Santa, The Flash, Wonder Woman, the Hobson’s Bay Music Academy and a Christmas DJ. Plus there’s more entertainment and oodles of treasures to please the eye at The District Makers Market.
Crown Christmas Spectacular
While you’re there make sure you drop past the Crown Christmas Spectacular for the 24-hour, fully-lit Christmas tree and dazzling animatronic light show. See larger-than-life baubles creating a musical compilation of favourite Christmas songs, running daily from 10am to midnight every 30 minutes. Santa will also be in the Atrium every day until Monday 24 December between noon and 6pm. It’s the perfect opportunity for family Christmas photos in a fabulously lit gold throne. Runs until 1 January 2019
ArtVo at Crown
One of the biggest Instagram hits of Christmas 2017, the ArtVo at Crown is back in 2018, with even more festive scenes to snap a selfie. Created by immersive ‘trick art’ gallery ArtVo, visitors are invited to take a photo in one of twelve Christmas scenarios – and become part of the picture. Runs until 28 December.
There’s much to admire and be inspired by at these merry markets. Delight in the creativity at the The District Makers Market. Behold treasures from Kyoto at the little Japanese Festive Market. Discover more in our guide to the Melbourne Christmas markets.
Christmas at Queen Victoria Market
You don’t need to shop to get into the spirit of the season at Melbourne’s favourite market. From enjoying the junior carol singers to meeting Santa himself, it doesn’t cost a cent to celebrate Christmas at Queen Victoria Market.
Christmas at the Old Treasury Building
This grand colonial building’s museum is always a good place to learn about Melbourne’s history, but now there’s something extra special. The former caretaker’s apartment in the basement is decked out in 1920s-style festive decorations for Christmas at the Old Treasury Building. They are handmade using designs and patterns from old newspapers, published when most people created cheap and cheerful decorations with everyday materials. Take a look at the traditional Christmas recipes too – some will surprise you.