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. 2020 has been a difficult year and you might not be able to head home this holiday season, but if you’re spending Christmas with housemates or new friends in Australia, 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.

Food

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. And 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?

Gifts

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 Aussie gift guide.

Christmas events

Brisbane

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.

Melbourne

In Melbourne, the Carols by Candlelight on Christmas Eve (24 December) are 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. While there won’t be an in-person audience this year, catch the event free-to-air on Channel 9.

The famous Federation Square becomes Christmas Square for the festive season, complete with a giant Christmas tree, an 6-metre high twinkling bauble you can take selfies inside of, free music performances and food trucks.

Sydney

The Christmas Fun Fair runs from mid-December until Christmas Eve. 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.

Adelaide

Adelaide’s Christmas Festival encompasses the best of Christmas with a huge range of events. There’s Christmas Sounds with free performances under the enormous Christmas tree in Victoria Square/Tarntanyangga, or check out the Advent Calendar for daily inspiration on events to attend.

Canberra

Through shopping and eating locally, Canberra is encouraging everyone to Celebrate a City Christmas. Check out the unique kaleidoscopic Christmas tree shining throughout the day, or explore the Christmas decorations in City Walk.

Hobart

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 Block Parties popping up around the city featuring food and entertainment.

Darwin

The city of Darwin has its own calendar of events happening across December. Options include visiting Santa’s Village or Fun in the Parks at The Mall, and Carols by the Sea at the Nightcliff Foreshore.