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. Don’t miss the Official Tree Lighting Ceremony on 30 November! Other highlights include Santa’s House, festive films 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!
Festival of Independents
Traders along Flinders Lane and adjoining alleys and arcades, including the Nicholas Building, are celebrating the season in their own distinctive, creative way. The Festival of Independents promises live entertainment, installations and creations by Melbourne artists and designers (free to admire but tempting to buy!)
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.
There’s much to admire and be inspired by at these merry markets. Delight in the creativity at the Arts Centre Melbourne Saturday Christmas 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. Other free fun includes popping a letter into Santa’s mailbox and following the Christmas Trail Map – perhaps to a prize!
Crown Christmas Spectacular
Things tend to happen on a grand scale at Crown, and Christmas is no exception. Be there for the lavish launch of the Crown Christmas Spectacular on 25 November. Australia’s only 24-hour, fully-lit Christmas tree will be switched on, as will seven giant baubles that create a Christmas song compilation. There’s much more, from fluffy white Samoyed dogs pulling a sled and candy cane stilt walkers to Samantha Jade performing live.
Santa’s also coming to the party, and will sit on his golden throne every day until Christmas Eve. There are lots of roving entertainers throughout the festive season too, and the tree and baubles dazzle until New Year’s Day.
Christmas Tales of Collins Street
Discover Yuletide stories past and present about one of Melbourne’s most important thoroughfares. Through words, images, digital content and window installations, Christmas Tales of Collins Street reveals real people, famous and otherwise.
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.