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Celebrating Christmas in Australia

celebrate christmas australia

You likely don’t need any reminding (after all, your city is probably packed with Christmas lights, trees and music!), but Christmas is just around the corner. 2021 has been a difficult year and you might not be able to head home this holiday season. As a result, you may be spending Christmas with housemates or new friends in Australia. If that’s the case, there are plenty of ways to get into the festive spirit.

Christmas Day

While it’s common to celebrate Christmas Eve in Europe, in Australia it’s more accepted to gather on Christmas Day (25 December). Some members of the community might attend church on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day – if you’d like to do this, there’s bound to be a church near you that you can visit.


Australians often celebrate Christmas Day by enjoying a Christmas lunch or dinner with their closest family and friends. The meal usually consists of a selection of hot and cold dishes, including fresh seafood. Even though Christmas falls during summer, many families will enjoy roast turkey, hot sides and rich Christmas pudding on the day.

If you’re celebrating with a group of friends on Christmas Day, you could consider doing a ‘pot luck’. This means everyone can bring a dish to share, and the responsibility of hosting doesn’t have to fall on one person’s shoulders. Why not ask guests to bring a traditional Christmas dish from their home country?


It’s common practice to give and receive presents in Australia. This is generally kept between family and friends, although you could consider giving a small gift or card to an employer, manager, or anyone else you’d like to show your appreciation to.

If you’re keen to take part in Christmas gift-giving but want to save some cash, consider hosting a Secret Santa. This involves gathering a group of three or more, placing everyone’s name in a hat, and getting each person to pick out a name. You then set a budget (say, $20 per gift), and everyone has to buy a gift for their designated recipient. You then swap gifts on Christmas Day, either anonymously or with a personalised card attached. It’s a simple and fun way to make sure everyone gets a gift, without the huge financial burden of Christmas shopping. For some fun present ideas, check out our popular Christmas gift ideas.

Christmas events


Brisbane’s King George Square is home to a massive Christmas tree that you can check out in the lead-up to Christmas. City Hall is also lit up with animated projections telling fun Australian Christmas tales.


In Melbourne, the Carols by Candlelight on Christmas Eve (24 December) is a charity music event that is televised across the country. Carols by Candlelight takes place at Sidney Myer Music Bowl and all proceeds go towards Vision Australia’s charity work. This year, you can attend the event live by booking tickets or catch the event free-to-air on Channel 9.

The famous Federation Square becomes Christmas Square for the festive season, complete with a 16-metre Christmas tree, Santa’s workshop, free music performances, and awesome restaurants and bars.


Santa’s Fun Fair runs from mid-December 2021 until early January 2022. Here, you can celebrate Christmas cheer with food, rides and ‘snow’ play.

The Christmas Lights Spectacular at Hunter Valley Gardens (just north of Sydney) features the Southern Hemisphere’s largest light display, as well as fair rides including a Ferris wheel and swing chair. The event runs until 26 January, so there’s plenty of time to check it out.


Christmas at Twilight encompasses the best of Christmas with a huge range of events. There’s endless entertainment with free performances under the enormous Christmas tree in Victoria Square. For more options, check out the other festive events to attend.


Through shopping and eating locally, Canberra is encouraging everyone to celebrate Christmas in a community-based manner. Check out the unique art installations or explore the Christmas decorations in City Walk. You can also view local performances and attend a range of events and parties this festive season.


Throughout December, the Tasmanian capital hosts various community Christmas carols – free events where you can listen to traditional Christmas songs and meet the local community. There are also a series of events and parties around the city featuring food, shopping, and entertainment.


The city of Darwin has its own calendar of events happening throughout December. Admire the Christmas tree at Smith Street Mall, visit Santa’s Village or Fun in the Parks, and sing along with Carols by the Sea at the Nightcliff Foreshore. These activities are sure to make for a very merry Christmas!