[Sponsored] Christmas isn’t called the festive season for nothing. Each November-December there’s a visible shift in Melbourne as pine trees start appearing, mince pies become ubiquitous and Christmas tunes starts getting played twice as often on the radio. The City of Melbourne is celebrating the giving season by giving you a host of free events between November 24 and December 25.
Over at Federation Square will be the Christmas Festival Hub featuring a giant illuminated bauble, a 16 metre-high Christmas tree and a nativity scene as well as the house of the jolly man in red himself. See Santa arrive for the official tree lighting ceremony on Friday November 24, and return every night until Christmas for nightly light shows. You'll also be able to score free photos with the big man himself at Santa's House in Fed Square up until December 24.
After dark, stroll around the city to discover the festive light projections that will light up Docklands, the State Library of Victoria and Fed Square. These animated narrative shows will be mapped onto the building facades, telling the story of the North Pole's preparations in the lead up to Christmas.
If you haven’t written your list to Santa yet there’s still time – and outside the Elizabeth Street GPO you can send your letter off via Santa’s Mailbox. All letters to the big man get a reply, and if you need to bump yourself up onto the ‘nice list’ you can donate a gift to someone less fortunate using Santa’s Gift box.
Forget the halls, it’s Melbourne’s laneways that are being decked with boughs of holly. Journey down one of the city’s famous laneways like Alfred Place, Manchester Lane and Meyers place for some yuletide magic (and an almost obligatory Instagram photo). At Melbourne Town Hall you can visit the Gingerbread Village and salivate over some of Melbourne’s best-known landmarks recreated in biscuit. You can’t eat the village, but you will be able to pick up some just as tasty gingerbread treats to go.
Finally you can help Santa with one final task. He’s lost his phone and needs your help to get it back. Download the Christmas Festival app ‘Santa’s Lil Helper: A Melbourne Laneway Experience’ for a jolly augmented reality treasure hunt down Melbourne’s laneways. If you need assistance Santa’s tech-savvy elves will be hanging out at Fed Square between 10am-5pm every day (and until 7pm on Fridays) until Christmas.