Media releases

Melbourne set to ‘sleigh’ this Christmas 

9 November 2023

A ‘merry-ad’ of free festive fun will transform Melbourne for this year’s Christmas Festival – including a new and spectacular water and laser show on the Yarra and a brand-new home for Santa’s Workshop.

The inaugural Christmas River Show will illuminate Southbank every night of the four-week festival – dazzling onlookers with water fountains, lasers, lights and projections to a soundtrack of festive favourites.

An array of Christmas decorations will adorn the city – including showstopping projections, laneway take-overs and interactive pop-ups.

The festival begins with the ceremonial lighting of the iconic 17.5 metre Christmas Tree at Christmas Square on Friday 24 November.

Melburnians are invited to be a part of the occasion – with many merry roving performers, a Christmas choir and DJ, and an animated short film by Melbourne-based artist Beci Orpin completing the entertainment line-up.

City visitors can mistle-toast the holiday season at highlight events including:

  • Santa’s Workshop in Ho-Ho-Howey Place – transforming the laneway into a Christmas wonderland and creating a jolly good photo moment.
  • Mesmerising Christmas projections – illuminating Melbourne Town Hall and the State Library Victoria.
  • Sound and Light Shows each night at Christmas Square from 9pm – watch the city’s tree sparkle in all its glory.
  • A pop-up Christmas-themed roller rink – keeping the free festive fun rolling into Carlton’s Argyle Square. Entry is free with your own skates, or you can hire equipment for $10.
  • The new-look Christmas Cinema – screening iconic festive films at the stunning Capitol Theatre.
  • A festival maze in Docklands – inviting Melburnians to win their way through a full-sized labyrinth of giant presents and interactive games.
  • Festive thrills and classic carnival treats – as the Christmas Carnival returns to the banks of the Yarra.
  • The Listies Ruin Xmas – the acclaimed comedic duo returns to put the slay into sleighbells with an uproarious take on the holiday pantomime.
  • The return of the Christmas Quest and Treasure Hunt – the ultimate Christmas-themed scavenger hunts with plenty of prizes to be won.
  • Free Christmas walks – helping uncover the best of Christmas in the city at any time of day.

All attractions are free, except the Listies Ruin Christmas and the Christmas Cinema. Proceeds for these events will go to the Good Giving appeal for Make Room – a City of Melbourne project creating new pathways out of homelessness.

The Christmas Festival will run for four weeks from 24 November to Christmas Day.

The Christmas Festival is supported by major partners including the Victorian Government, Fed Square and World Vision.

For more information, visit What’s On.

Quotes attributable to Lord Mayor Sally Capp

“It’s the most tree-mendous time of the year! Our spectacular Christmas Festival will transform the city into a festive wonderland – creating an unmistakeable buzz in the air for city visitors, while boosting holiday trade for our businesses.”

“Last year’s festival attracted more than 1.4 million people, generating a $130 million economic impact.”

“This year’s program is jam-packed with festive fun for the whole family to enjoy – from Christmas-themed movies to thrilling carnival rides, and a captivating new Christmas River Show.”

Quotes attributable to City Activation portfolio lead Councillor Roshena Campbell

“The Christmas Festival offers fantastic, free family-friendly fun while boosting the local economy, with holiday trade accounting for up to two-thirds of annual revenue for some retailers.

“People come from all over Victoria to experience Melbourne’s incredible festive atmosphere, while stocking up on the perfect stocking fillers from our enormous variety of city retailers.”

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9 November 2023

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