Distinctive shopping, time-honoured traditions, and new ways to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year: Melbourne does Christmas like nowhere else. Here’s our guide to making the most of the festive season in the world’s most liveable city.
The festive season officially begins in Melbourne on 24 November, when Santa takes a tram to our 2017 holiday hub, Federation Square. He’s joined by roving performers for the Christmas Festival Official Tree Lighting Ceremony. Who will push the big red button to switch on the 16-metre tree’s lovely lights? Come along and find out!
Fed Square, as well as the State Library and Docklands, become windows onto Santa’s workshop during the festival’s magical, colourful Christmas Projections. Watch St Nick visiting the hard-working elves in his various toy-making departments during this nightly wonder.
Generations of Melburnians have pressed their noses to the Myer Christmas windows, whose enchanting theme changes every year. This year’s Christmas windows theme is based on Myer’s very own Christmas characters who have been brought to life over the past two Myer Christmas campaigns; Elf, Reindeer, Mouse and Angel. The grand unveiling takes place in the afternoon of Sunday 13 November.
Another holiday tradition associated with former Melbourne retail mogul and philanthropist Sidney Myer is Carols by Candlelight at the Myer Music Bowl. Now in its 80th year, this heartwarming Christmas Eve event gathers thousands of voices, young and old, singing with joy and hope. All funds raised go to Vision Australia, to help children who are blind or have low vision.
Christmas Glistens at Queen Victoria Market! Another tradition going back generations is shopping for a Yuletide feast at Melbourne’s big heritage market. There are hundreds of stalls to choose from, but ham, cheese and wine from reWine is a good start. Get alfresco celebration tips at a ‘Whack It on the Barbie’ class, and more inspiration, or gorgeous gifts, from Books for Cooks. Purchase one of their selected summer cookbooks during December and receive a market voucher!
Christmas party style
From cocktail parties to a family barbecue on Christmas Day, the festive season is party time. Shine bright with some distinctive pieces from Melbourne’s fashion boutiques, such as The Cats Meow. This little shop in the Degraves Street subway champions local independent designers. You’re sure to find something nobody else at the party will be wearing!
Beautiful yet practical wearables await at Obus, which is noted for using natural fibres and exclusive prints. This summer’s collection is inspired by Ukrainian folk traditions, and features dresses, tops, shorts, swimwear, sandals, socks, nail polish and more.
For more summer style with a touch of the exotic, head to Melko. The Brazilian-Australian founders work with designers, craftspeople and artisans across Latin America, and emphasise sustainable and ethical practices. Their necklaces made from acai berries are a casual, colourful song from the Amazon. The berries are handpicked, dried and dyed, often in vibrant party hues.
Invest in a piece that’s perfect for Christmas 2017, and many more to come, thanks to local designer Kristy Barber. The garments, shoes and accessories at her Kuwaiiboutique are made to last, both in terms of durability and design. They’re made in Melbourne too, so shopping here means helping locals have a merry Christmas.
Not to say that you can’t also add a little French style to your holiday wardrobe. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Australia’s first Sandro Paris boutique, on St Collins Lane. This accessible luxury brand mixes streetwear and Parisian elegance, and masculine and feminine aesthetics.
The art of Christmas shopping
Shop among the city’s internationally renowned street art, which flourishes in secluded alleyways such as Hosier Lane. Take a coffee break here at Good 2 Go, and buy some street-art inspired gift cards for that Melbourne touch. Every penny spent at this Youth Projects enterprise helps young people experiencing homelessness and other disadvantages.
After all that running around to make the festive season special for everyone else, reward yourself with a gift too! Perhaps something from the ACMI Shop, which is full of treasures celebrating the moving image. From the Movie Memory Game to curated items from ACMI’s exhibitions (including the extended Magic of Aardman), there are treats galore.
Wax Museum Records is a must if you like listening to music the good old-fashioned way. Make that ways, because they stock vinyl, CDs and tapes, both new and used, as well as turntable accessories. No time to decide? Get a voucher and treat yourself in the new year (hint: they offer DJ lessons!).