Santa Claus is coming to town
This December Federation Square is getting a very festive makeover. Head over from Friday, November 30 to check out all the Christmas decorations. There will be a 16-metre Christmas tree, nightly projection art, a giant light-up bauble you can walk through (or take selfies with) and concerts every Friday.
The Myer Christmas windows are always a big winner (this year they tell the story of Alice in Wonderland) but there are other festive lights and decorations to enjoy in Bourke Street Mall. The old GPO building (now the home of H&M) is bedecked with nutcrackers and wreaths, while at night it’s lit up. The mall also has a net of stars over the tramlines and often a raft of buskers playing carols.
Melbourne is a gift, and this Christmas the Town Hall is taking that pretty seriously. The gorgeous old building (it’s almost 150 years old!) is wrapping itself up like a big, stone present. The Swanston Street-facing side of the building has a giant bow wrapped around it, as well as big wreaths and nutcrackers. It’s also where you can find Santa’s House and snap a (free) photo with the jolly man himself.
As you’re trawling the Queen Victoria Markets this year for prawns, puddings and presents, take a moment to enjoy its festive offerings. The market has a long tradition of "decking the stalls," so Instagram your favourite merrily decorated stallholder and you could even win a market voucher. Santa will be setting up his workshop in shed C from December 1, and Santa will be roaming the markets the weekend directly before Christmas Day. The market will also be open every day from Thursday December 20 until Christmas Day.
Doing a bit of Christmas shopping at the District Docklands? Stay out late and see the precinct’s festive (and interactive) light projections. The light show will be projected onto the ‘Silence’ installation (the white, tree-like abstract sculptures along New Quay promenade). The projections use “finger paint” technology that allows visitors to control the light art.
Emporium Melbourne is celebrating Disney’s new Christmas movie The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Emporium will feature an exhibition of replica outfits from the film so if you love the film (or costume design in general) then it’s a good chance to see some of the most notable outfits up close. Emporium will also have a nutcracker carousel near the Lonsdale Street entrance.
The eastern end of Collins Street is known for its luxury retailers and my do those big money brands know how to kit themselves out for Christmas. Stroll along the street to check out the stores Christmas displays (the Cartier decorations are particularly glitzy) even if you can’t afford to buy from them. Then stop by Collins Place to see the giant Christmas tree.
Santa Claus is coming to the 'burbs
The good folks at this Preston house computerise Christmas lights to flash to music – last year they choreographed their lights to 'We Will Rock You', 'Christmas Can Can' and 'Hallelujah'. This year we've heard they might be synchronising their lights to music from The Greatest Showman. Check out their YouTube channel for a sneak peek. 47 Gordon Grove, Preston. Dec 1-26. Sun-Thu 8.45-10.30pm; Fri, Sat 8.45pm-midnight.
For over a decade Robert Mackintosh has been bringing a little Christmas cheer to the residents of Greensborough with his glowing displays. Mr Mackintosh has previously said the lights were a hobby that turned into an obsession. In previous years the lightshow has been used to collect money for the Royal Children's Hospital so bring your wallets and warm hearts. 23 Palpera Tce, Greensborough. From Dec 1. 8.30-11pm.
Alex and Peter Caruana have been decking out their family home in thousands of Christmas lights for the past years. The simple joy of seeing visitors enjoy their display is what keeps them going – and this year they’re also hoping to raise money for the Starlight Children's Foundation. Make sure to grab a selfie with the giant santa! 60 Hunter Rd, Camberwell. Dec 1-26. 8.30-11pm (8pm- midnight Dec 24-25).
What started out as a friendly competition between neighbours since 2002 has snowballed into another year of Christmas light madness. While you’re there, check out the trains, reindeer and snow machine – it's the closest you'll get to a white Christmas in Melbourne. 150 Reichelt Ave, Montmorency. December 1-28, 7.30pm-11pm.
For over half a century, the Boulevard in Ivanhoe has taken Christmas lights to the next level, showering houses, trees and streets in lights and decorations. Get in early as the traffic can pile up pretty quickly, with thousands rubbernecking at the lights every year. The Boulevard, Ivanhoe. From Dec 15. 8.30-11pm.
Last minute gifts
The Christmas shopper tend to come in one of two camps: you've either been shopping since June, or you've left it until the final week of the Christmas rush before you buy your presents. Thankfully for those of you low on ideas for Christmas presents, we've got a bunch of great gift ideas for the design-savvy and foodie person in your life.