A De­cem­ber to Re­mem­ber

Mel­bourne lights up for the fes­tive sea­son. By Jenny Burns.

Where Melbourne - - Contents - For more in­for­ma­tion on Mel­bourne’s Christ­mas cel­e­bra­tions visit mel­bourne.vic.gov.au/christ­mas

DE­CEM­BER IS AL­WAYS an ac­tion-packed and colour­ful time in Mel­bourne thanks to our love for Christ­mas cel­e­bra­tions. But this year the city is more ra­di­ant than ever.

The City of Mel­bourne has spent $5.4 mil­lion to make this year’s Christ­mas fes­tiv­i­ties our most spec­tac­u­lar ever. Add to this the daz­zling dec­o­ra­tions and plenty of ac­tiv­i­ties of­fered by our many tourist at­trac­tions and shop­ping cen­tres, and it’s easy to see why it’s a Christ­mas cel­e­bra­tion to re­mem­ber.

Fed­er­a­tion Square and the city’s fa­mous laneways are the hubs for many of the City of Mel­bourne-gen­er­ated ac­tiv­i­ties. A 16-me­tre Christ­mas tree is tak­ing pride of place in Fed­er­a­tion Square, to­gether with Santa’s House and a Na­tiv­ity scene. A gi­ant Christ­mas bauble is another high­light, while young­sters can have their photo taken with Santa for free. Reg­u­lar city­go­ers dur­ing De­cem­ber will also see nu­mer­ous new dec­o­ra­tions in­clud­ing Santa’s throne and sleighs through­out the city.

Another high­light of this year’s fes­tiv­i­ties is the new Santa’s Lil Helper app. This app takes vis­i­tors on an aug­mented re­al­ity ex­pe­ri­ence, trans­form­ing nu­mer­ous city sites, in­clud­ing De­graves Street, Howey Place and Fed­er­a­tion Square, into en­chanted won­der­lands. The app also brings to life pop­u­lar an­i­mated char­ac­ters in­clud­ing Santa and the Nutcracker soldier.

Many of our city’s most pop­u­lar at­trac­tions are also get­ting into the Christ­mas spirit. The State Li­brary and Fed­er­a­tion Square are be­ing trans­formed into a bright and swirling mag­i­cal Christ­mas light show telling the story of the North Pole’s prepa­ra­tions in the lead-up to the big day. There are also Christ­mas Pro­jec­tions at Dock­lands. These colour­ful cre­ations are un­like tra­di­tional an­i­ma­tions and are cre­at­ing a new way to ex­pe­ri­ence the area.

To­gether with the new “Christ­mas ex­pe­ri­ences” many old favourites have re­turned this year. They in­clude the Gin­ger­bread Vil­lage by EPICURE at the Mel­bourne Town Hall. EPICURE’S ex­ec­u­tive Pas­try Chef, Deniz Karaca, and his team have spent months bring­ing the vil­lage to life. This year they have crafted a replica of the F1 Grand Prix to add to the vil­lage, which com­prises 500 kilo­grams of gin­ger­bread, 360 kilo­grams of royal ic­ing, 150 kilo­grams of marzi­pan and around 800 minia­ture Christ­mas trees for the fes­tive back­drop.

Tak­ing the fam­ily to see Myer’s Christ­mas Win­dows is another Mel­bourne favourite—this year is the 62nd year the depart­ment store has been cre­at­ing its an­i­mated Christ­mas theme.

While an­i­ma­tion is “all the go” this cen­tury, a visit to Old Trea­sury Build­ing shows how Mel­bur­ni­ans of yes­ter­year cel­e­brated Christ­mas. Its ex­hi­bi­tion “Christ­mas at the Old Trea­sury” show­cases home­made dec­o­ra­tions of the 1920s. While there were quite so­phis­ti­cated Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions for sale in Mel­bourne by the 1920s, most lo­cals couldn’t af­ford them. “Christ­mas at the Old Trea­sury” shows the kinds of dec­o­ra­tions they made in­stead. News­pa­pers of the time printed de­signs and pat­terns for cheer­ful dec­o­ra­tions which could be made at home us­ing read­ily avail­able ma­te­ri­als. The Old Trea­sury Build­ing has used these pat­terns to recre­ate a homely Christ­mas in the care­tak­ers’ base­ment flat. Old Trea­sury Build­ing vol­un­teers are mak­ing the dec­o­ra­tions us­ing 1920s tech­niques with the theme of crepe pa­per flow­ers.

Another long-held Mel­bourne tra­di­tion is Vi­sion Aus­tralia’s Car­ols by Can­dle­light. In­deed, 2017 marks the event’s 80th an­niver­sary. Held on Christ­mas Eve at the Myer Mu­sic Bowl, the event at­tracts thou­sands of can­dle wav­ing par­tic­i­pants who gather to hear some of this coun­try’s best-known choirs and solo per­form­ers.

Once Christ­mas is over, the thoughts of lo­cals and vis­i­tors alike turn to New Year’s Eve and there are plenty of ways to cel­e­brate. The main high­light for thou­sands of rev­ellers on New Year’s Eve is the fire­works dis­play and again the City of Mel­bourne prom­ises a show to re­mem­ber. When the clock strikes mid­night, fire­works will be fired from mul­ti­ple rooftops across Mel­bourne’s CBD, which can be viewed from any­where with a view of the city sky­line. The fire­works prom­ise to be a fit­ting end to a month of great cheer.

Santa’s House in Fed­er­a­tion Square.

Gi­ant Christ­mas bauble in Fed­er­a­tion Square.

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