Everything you need to know about Christmas in Australia

Christmas in Australia

From gifts to food, here is our guide to an Aussie Yuletide – and some activities you can do with family and friends to get into the holiday spirit.

New to Australia and wondering what Christmas looks like Down Under? From gifts to food, here is our guide to an Aussie Yuletide – and some activities you can do with family and friends to get into the holiday spirit.

Mark your calendar

Christmas is celebrated on 25 December. On the day, presents are exchanged, and lunch or dinner (or both) is shared. Since Australia is a multicultural country, many families celebrate on Christmas Eve (24 December) instead, just as they do in parts of Europe.

The day after Christmas is also important – it is what Australians call Boxing Day. If it falls before the weekend, the following Monday is declared a public holiday, otherwise known as a “long weekend”.

Australian Christmas traditions

Australians love to celebrate, and Christmas is no exception. As well as exchanging gifts, families tend to enjoy big lunches with all the trimmings. Since it’s summer, barbecues and outdoor games such as cricket are popular. You will also find many Aussies around pools or at the beach.


Keeping in touch with family and friends overseas

You might already think about sending small gifts and holiday cards to family, but what about hosting your own virtual party? Organise a gathering of your loved ones, enjoy a meal over Zoom, or sync a festive movie viewing.

Gift giving in Australia or Kris Kringle

If you are sending presents overseas, post them in advance to give them time to arrive. If you live with others, you might chat to your housemates about exchanging gifts or festive cards.

You might also join in the tradition of Secret Santa or Kris Kringle. The idea is to set a spending limit, then each person picks a name out of a hat and keeps it secret. You buy a gift for that person, sticking to the price limit, and place it under the tree. This way, no one knows who the gifts are from, but everyone gets a present.

Traditional Australian Christmas food

Each Aussie family has their own spin on traditional Christmas food. For some, the celebration revolves around the barbecue. Seafood (especially prawns), meats or vegetables are served with fresh salads, sauces and bread. For dessert, Australians love pavlova with fruit and cream, pudding, mince pies, fruit cake and every variation of trifle you can possibly think of.

If you are away from home, this is the perfect opportunity to throw an international party. Invite friends over for good food and company, fun games and celebratory drinks.


Christmas events across Australia

Sydney: The city is packed with fun, free events during the festive season. Highlights include the Lights of Christmas, where incredible digital stories are projected onto St Mary’s Cathedral. In 2021, the story centres on “Home”, inspiring connection and togetherness.
If you are looking to do some last-minute shopping or enjoy the tradition of a market, The Rocks Christmas Markets are running every Saturday and Sunday in December. Expect lots of live entertainment and amazing decorations.

Melbourne: In December, Federation Square transforms into Christmas Square. There are food stalls to enjoy, Santa’s Big Workshop to explore and an unmissable 16-metre illuminated tree.

The famous Christmas projections are another highlight, with animations lighting up the State Library Victoria, Melbourne Town Hall and Princes Bridge. For something a bit different, check out the live street art long Hosier Lane, as artists decorate the streets with festive scenes.

Brisbane: Grab some friends, pack a picnic and head to Festive Beats at the South Bank Parklands for free, live performances. Or, enjoy a warm Queensland evening at the free South Bank Christmas Cinema. It will be screening a range of holiday movies along with recent blockbusters.

Adelaide: Adelaide’s Christmas Festival in the city centre hosts a huge range of events. Head to Festive Sounds and enjoy free performances under the enormous tree in Victoria Square/Tarntanyangga, or check out the online Advent Calendar for daily inspiration on events to attend.

Spending Christmas away from home

It has been a challenging year for many, but the festive season is the perfect time to rest and relax with your nearest and dearest. If you cannot make it home for the end of the year, there is so much to see and do in cities across Australia to help you celebrate.

Wishing you a safe and happy festive season.

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