Whenever I meet travellers in Melbourne in December the most common phrase I hear is ‘It’s too warm to feel like Christmas’.
It’s no surprise, down here in the southern hemisphere Christmas is in Summer. Instead of making snowman or having snowball fights on Christmas Day we often head down to the beach or this year we jumped into the pool at my auntie’s place.
This Christmas Day wasn’t as hot as previously but there is no doubting that Christmas is very different in Australia, especially for those arriving from Europe and the US who are used to wishing for a White Christmas.
However Melbourne is still full of Christmas spirit and Christmas is a time when the city truly comes alive. I have a mum and a grandmother who are both 100% obsessed with Christmas, the decorations in their houses are crazy and I’m pretty sure Nan spends most of the rest of the year preparing for Christmas Day.
It’s often been a family tradition to jump into the car and head up to Melbourne to take in everything Melbourne has to offer for Christmas. So what is there to do in Melbourne around Christmas time?
1. Myer Christmas Windows
The Myer Christmas Windows are the highlight of any Christmas visit to Melbourne. Every December for the last couple of decades the big department store Myer create a Christmas story in the windows of their Burke Street store.
The displays are beautifully handcrafted and the story is usually from a children’s book that you can purchase in store. The displays are animated, and the characters in the windows will move around.
If you can hear over the sound of happy children the window will also read the story out loud and accompany it with music and sounds. There are about 8 different windows and you start at one side and gradually progress through the story.
The line to visit the windows can get very big, particularly during school holidays or during the day when families are out and about with their children. To avoid the lines I’d recommend getting there early or arriving late (they close at 11pm).
2. Visiting the Santa Workshop at Myer
For those travelling with kids, or who are just young at heart, the top floor of the Myer Burke store gets transformed into a Christmas wonderland every December.
Here you can visit Santa, touch his breathing reindeer and claim a free gift. You will also find the train for children that is driven by an Elf and makes a loop around the top level of the store.
There are also many little activities for the children like Christmas colouring and a station for writing and sending letters to Santa. I took one of the boys that I nanny last year and he absolutely loved it!
3. Christmas Square on Swanston Street
Not very far from Flinders Street Station is the Christmas Square that is beautifully decorated with Christmas trees, Nutcrackers, a nativity scene, reindeers and other Christmas themed characters.
There is a huge countdown to Christmas and even a mailbox where you can post a letter to Santa. If you enclose a postage paid envelope with your letter you will even get a reply back from Santa! It’s a beautiful part of the city at Christmas and it’s great just to sit in this area and soak up the atmosphere.
4. Burke Street
Burke Street is where you will find the Myer store and the windows but it’s also beautifully decorated for the Holiday Season. There are usually pretty bells hanging above the road and some Christmas wreaths on the store.
You will also find Christmas themed street performers like the stone Santa that is also a favourite with kids and adults.
5. Block Arcade Decorations
The beautiful, traditional buildings that make up part of the Block Arcade are always decorated for Christmas. Here you will find very traditional decorations and I just love looking at them!
My advice would be to start here from Flinders Street Station and make your way through the buildings until you arrive at Burke st.
This is but a small list. More broadly Christmas week in Melbourne has great atmosphere if you are feeling like celebrating the festive season.
People seem to be even more friendlier than usual and the bars are full of people celebrating the start of a week or so off work. If you can brave the crowds of crazy shoppers it’s great to just walk around the city centre and soak up the celebrations!
Given that Christmas is a time of sharing I’d love to hear about your Christmas traditions!