Let there be lights: Your guide to Melbourne’s COVID-normal Christmas

It's been a tough year in Melbourne, so we could be forgiven if our sense of Christmas spirit was feeling at a low ebb.

But given that the second COVID-19 lockdown is firmly in the rearview mirror, the time is right to get out into the community and celebrate the festive season.

Here’s our guide to Melbourne Christmas events for 2020. They are not quite as we’ve known them – many have gone online or been modified to accommodated social distancing.

But joyous, just the same.

Melbourne’s Carols by Candlelight will go ahead this year but without a live crowd.

Carols

  • Carols by Candlelight, television broadcast, Thursday, December 24.

For public health considerations, organisers of Melbourne’s Carols by Candlelight have decided to perform the concert to an empty Sidney Myer Music Bowl.

Melburnians can still enjoy the magic of the event – and even get a glimpse of Santa before he starts his big night of delivering presents – by tuning into Channel Nine on Christmas Eve from 8pm.

  • Rock Around the Block, Yarra City Council, December 19.

Carols in the Park will be trucked to Yarra residents’ front doors this year, as Yarra City Council pairs with Trucked Up Entertainment and Press Play to feature local artists’ music at various locations.

Head out to Curtain Square, Barkly Gardens and more to catch one of the artists’ 30-minute sets before they head off to their next public local gig. The full list of locations can be found here.

  • Whitehorse Carols, online and in-person, Friday, December 18.

The City of Whitehorse said this year’s festivities will look "a little different", with its annual carols event going online.

Entertainers Silvie Paladino and Simon Gleeson will headline Whitehorse’s virtual carols concert. Community carolling will go ahead at some of the council’s shopping precincts to help support local traders.

  • A Very Moreland Christmas, online, Saturday, December 19.

With COVID-19 restrictions spelling an end to Moreland City Council’s annual Carols by the Lake, the council will instead host a short film of local musicians performing some favourite Christmas tunes.

Kylie Auldist, Kutcha Edwards and the Moreland City Band are all set to bring the Christmas cheer into homes and keep the Moreland community’s festive traditions alight.

Shoppers at Queen Victoria Market on Christmas Eve in 2018.Credit:Michael Bachelard

Markets

  • Queen Victoria Markets, various dates.

Queen Vic is upping the festive feel this year with eco-friendly Christmas workshops, Christmas cooking demonstrations, festive food trucks and Santa visits all taking place throughout December.

Check the dates of the different events here.

  • The Big Design Market, online.

The Big Design Market brings together more than 260 local vendors to provide unique and locally sourced Christmas gifts.

This year’s market has been moved online due to the pandemic. Shoppers can still purchase from their catalogue until Christmas (though you may need to explain late postage to gift recipients).

    • District Makers Market, The Rose Street Market, Sunday, December 20.

    Support Australian businesses by heading down to the District Makers Market in Docklands.

    With live entertainment, workshops and food and dining accompanying the arts, craft and jewellery stalls, the pet-friendly, open-air markets could be the perfect place to nab some great Christmas gifts.

    • Christmas Makers Market, Nicholas Building, Thursday, December 17.

    Pick up all the artisan wares your loved ones could desire at the iconic Nicholas Building’s makers market.

    Bespoke jewellery, books, art prints and more can be found throughout three Christmas-music-filled levels of stalls, from 6pm until 9pm.

    A Federation Square style Christmas in 2017.Credit:Wayne Hawkins

    Activities

    • Christmas Square, Federation Square, until December 25.

    The epicentre of Melbourne Christmas celebrations will undoubtedly be Federation Square.

    Until Christmas Day, revellers can take in the festivities around the square’s 16-metre tree and visit Santa’s Big Workshop, where children can even get a COVID-safe snap with the big red man himself.

    Santa’s Workshop will be running until Christmas Eve. Check opening times and find out more here.

    • Magical Christmas Quest, Melbourne CBD, until December 25.

    Take part in Melbourne’s own enchanting Christmas scavenger hunt.

    Participants are given five new clues each Friday that lead to an iconic Melbourne location. Once there, take a picture of the location and send it to the event organisers for deciphering. If successful, you’ll be entered into a draw to win a $250 prize pack.

    Stage ONE creative director John Kerr (right) with Sam, Anthea, Hamish and Camilla McCombe outside the Bourke Street windows.Credit:Justin McManus

    • Myer Christmas Windows, Myer Melbourne City, until Christmas Eve.

    This year celebrates the 65th anniversary of Myer’s famous Christmas windows. The tongue-in-cheek theme, Christmas is uncancelled, plays on how the windows were almost brought to a halt this year.

    Myer asks window viewers to keep a strict distance of 1.5 metres from others and urges those feeling unwell not to come.

    • Christmas Projections, Swanston Street, until January 3.

    Visitors can stroll Swanston Street and take in the views of colourful imagery projected on some of Melbourne’s most famous landmarks.

    Melbourne Town Hall and Princess Bridge will be just some of the landmarks to be lit up, and the State Library of Victoria will feature a touching tribute to Melbourne’s COVID-19 heroes.

      Get into the spirit of Christmas with a house lights tour.Credit:Rebecca Hallas

        Christmas Lights

        Although many popular displays have been put on hold this year, Christmas Light Search has still managed to compile a list of the best spots throughout Melbourne to drive by spectacular Christmas light extravaganzas. Check out the list below to see where you can spot some lights in your area.

        North:

        • Coburg, Molesworth Street. Thousands of lights covering a three-storey home, including large inflatables and moving features.
        • Doreen, Landano Way. Motorised drummer boys, nutcrackers, a Santa chair and even a ride-on unicorn.

        East:

        • Cranbourne North, 9 Middlesex Court. Owners of this house love to meet the guests, with some children even bagging lollies for the trip.
        • Boronia, Rawdon Court. The Christmas-themed garage door makes this display worth the visit.

        South:

        • Mulgrave, Lebanon Crescent. Christmas Light Search recommends bringing your sunnies to take in the dazzling panorama.
        • Bittern, 157 Woolleys Road. The best in the local area, with more than 20,000 lights and nine snow machines.

        West:

        • Hoppers Crossing, Bethany Road. The centre for Christmas inflatables. Olaf, Monsters Inc, Mickey and Minnie Mouse and more await those who make the trip.
        • Melton, Chesney Road. Covered in lights and Christmas characters, this house is one to not be missed.

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