To celebrate Christmas in Australia requires a change in mindset. Unlike the traditional northern hemisphere Christmas, Christmas in Australia is in summer so mulled wine and winter activities just don’t fit. This is just what makes a Christmas celebration in Australia so exciting. You can create your own traditions! Step away from the norm and have a unique and unforgettable Christmas experience!
What to expect if you celebrate Christmas in Australia
Australian Christmas traditions
Australians love to take things and make them their own. Warm weather means that traditional trees don’t last outdoors, so expect to see large tinsel trees in the cities. At home, we use pine trees as our Christmas trees. Many people use fake Christmas trees too.
We love to mix of traditional and new. Expect to see red, green and gold but also pink, silver and blue. We decorate to our own taste, whether that’s traditional or not.
We love to visit Santa Claus for an annual photo. Children and some adults partake in this yearly ritual! You will see Santas dressed up in major shopping centres. Additionally in the lead up to Christmas we love to visit Christmas displays and lights. Many households create stunning displays in their front gardens that are popular to visit.
The lead up to Christmas is a time to unwind and celebrate. It marks the end of our school year and a quiet period where many workplaces close. The whole of December is busy with Christmas parties and end of year celebrations.
Many capitals cities and most local councils have Christmas concerts. Aussies love to light a candle and sit out in a park and listen to Christmas carols. The larger carolling concerts are also widely watched on television.
We love traditions such as pulling Christmas crackers and wearing silly hats whilst eating lunch. Christmas Day is centred around family, so you’ll find that it is quiet out and about.
It’s too hot for Christmas jumpers, so we like to wear festive t-shirts, headbands and earrings.
Australia is very multicultural, so many people do not celebrate Christmas. As a whole however, it is a tradition that the country formally recognises and celebrates. If you’re travelling as a family, why not read some kids books about Christmas in Australia before you depart?
What Christmas decorations you can expect to see in Australia
Australian Christmas decorations are a mix of the traditional with a bit of Aussie flair. In the capital cities expect to see spotlit buildings featuring Christmas projections, oversized tinsel Christmas trees (real ones just wouldn’t last in the heat) and post decorated with tinsel Christmas sculptures. In the CBD you’ll find light installations, however they’re a secondary decoration unlike the Christmas lights in London which take centre stage.
In seaside cities and towns like Geelong, you may also see floating Christmas installations. Many cities now hold Christmas markets, in small wooden cabanas, similar to what you’d see in Europe.
Traditional images such as holly, Christmas trees and candy canes are favourites. Some regions take an Aussie flair. They may include Christmas hat adorned koalas and gum leaf wreaths in their decorations. Religious images such as Mary and baby Jesus also feature.
Christmas decorations in Australia are relaxed and open to interpretation. Myer, an Australian department store, is an excellent place to buy a few Aussie Christmas decorations.
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Australian Christmas food: The traditional and local dishes we love
Expect a few traditional foods mixed in with some Australian Christmas food favourites. Many Australians still sit up to a carved turkey. You should also expect to see seafood, salad and other roasts.
It is hot on Christmas Day in many places. Far too hot to heat up the oven. This is where the BBQ comes into its own. The barbeque is perfect for grilling seafood or even cooking a roast. It also makes a great focal point to chat and have a drink.
Australian’s love ‘nibbles’ – those in foods like dips, crackers and fruit platters that get the meal started. Prepare to eat a lot at an Australian Christmas celebration.
When it comes to desserts, you can’t go past a pavlova. A pavlova is a meringue base covered in whipped cream and fruit. It’s one of those essential Australian traditions that’s enjoyed Australia wide. Many love the traditional Christmas pudding with brandy custard or cream. Additionally, Christmas favourites include trifle and fruit salad.
If you celebrate Christmas in Australia, prepare to share in a slice of Christmas ham. It’s not the baked style that features heavily in European cuisine, but a ham on the bone. Sliced thickly it makes an excellent Christmas meal for Christmas dinner.
For those Aussies completely shirking tradition, it’s not uncommon to see people celebrating with a more relaxed barbecue on the beach. There’s no hard and fast rules when it comes to Australian cuisine.
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Festive destinations to celebrate Christmas in Australia
Nation wide, Australians love to celebrate Christmas. The capital cities are the hub of the festivities. Each region adding its own unique flair. Here are some of the must see places to really get into that Aussie Xmas spirit.
What to do if you celebrate Christmas in Melbourne
The Myer Christmas windows are the epitome of Christmas in Melbourne. Myer is one of the large department stores and their windows are transformed every year with a unique take on Christmas.
The detail and animatronics are incredible. Each year the designers craft the windows around a book or a Christmas story. They’re very popular, so be sure to visit early or later in the day to avoid the crowds. You can also visit Santa at Myer, for a festive photo.
In addition to the windows, if you love Christmas carols, every new years eve there is carolling at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. Book early as they sell out fast.
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What to do if you celebrate Christmas in Sydney
It doesn’t get more Aussie than Christmas at Bondi beach. It’s primarily a congregating spot for tourists. However after Christmas lunch has digested a lot of locals will head down too. It’s the ultimate beach Christmas destination.
Christmas in Sydney is also known for its Carols in the Domain. The carols are held the weekend before Christmas. They feature some of Australia’s best singers. The Martin Place Christmas tree is also a fantastic place to see beautiful Christmas lights and hear carolling every evening.
St Mary’s cathedral is lit up in a stunning lights display. Additionally the historical QVB building is an excellent location to enjoy beautiful decorations. Finally, the Pit Street Mall, is lit up with a twinkling canopy of lights.
If you’re celebrating Christmas in Sydney, you really should stick around to see the new years eve fireworks in Sydney. They’re some of the best in the world and will top off your unforgettable experience!
Unique Australian Christmas experiences
If you’re willing to venture out of the capitals, why not try a unique Australian Christmas experience? Christmas dinner at Uluru is a once in a lifetime Christmas experience.
If you’re not too fussed about a ‘traditional’ Christmas meal, why not head to a beautiful beach such as those near Esperance, WA. Enjoy a day’s play by the water. Vacationing over Christmas is an awesome way to leave the stress and constructed ideas of Christmas behind.
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Why Christmas in Australia is a bucketlist experience.
Step away from the traditional cold Northern Hemisphere Christmas and enjoy a unique once in a lifetime summer Christmas experience in Australia.
Whether you choose to celebrate Christmas in Melbourne or in a remote location one thing is for sure. It’ll be a unique Christmas experience to remember.