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Celebrating Christmas in 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. You might not be able to head home this holiday season, and 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/Kris Kringle. 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, $25 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.


There are several breathtaking Christmas displays and experiences in Sydney. The Martin Place Christmas tree is a fixture in the middle of the CBD until January 2024. Be sure to swing by and snap a picture while you’re there!

You can also check out Deck the Harbour at Darling Harbour from 28 November to 25 December 2023 and Christmas Wonderlanes at The Rocks, which offers a series of events until 25 December 2023.


Check out Santa’s Symphony in the Park at the South 9 Parklands on 2 December 2023. Here you can enjoy festive songs from the amazing Perth Symphony Orchestra and talented vocalists! You can also visit the annual Christmas Lights Trail, which features two illuminated trails to follow and 22 installations to explore across the CBD and Northbridge.


In Adelaide, there’s endless entertainment with free performances under the enormous Christmas tree in Victoria Square/Tarntanyangga. 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. The University of Canberra is hosting a Christmas Gin Festival, the perfect event for your friendsmas. 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 is 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. Visit Santa’s Village, take part in the Santa Fun on Wheels event, enjoy a Christmas-themed scavenger hunt, and sing along with Carols by the Sea at the Nightcliff Foreshore. These activities are sure to make for a very merry Christmas!