City to come alive during festive season

By Brendan Rees

After two tumultuous years, the festive cheer is set to return across the City of Melbourne which will be transformed into a Christmas wonderland.

There’s something for everyone in this year’s 2021 Christmas Festival which has promised to be bigger and better than ever – with the return of fireworks, street feasts, and a spectacular drone show to round off the year.

The festival will see the city dazzle under a glow of decorations, including a 16-metre Christmas tree at Fed Square, free activities and a shopping festival filled with offers and discounts.

There will also be an exciting line-up of new attractions including a carnival at Birrarung Marr, a floating art installation on the Yarra River, a Christmas night market at the Queen Victoria Market, a pop-up maze at Docklands, and augmented reality “Elfie Selfie” stations scattered across the city.

Old favourites like the Gingerbread Village and Christmas Square at Fed Square – the home of Santa’s Workshop and free activities for families – will also return.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the city was enlisting the help of elves to ensure everyone enjoyed a wonderful festive season.

“Our friends from the North Pole are helping us ensure the city is the ultimate destination to celebrate the festive season with family and friends,” Cr Capp said.

“This year’s Christmas Festival is expected to generate more than $15 million in economic activity – providing the city’s business owners with a much-needed boost as they bounce back from lockdown.”

“We’ve all had a tough year and we want to make sure everyone – shoppers, families and business owners – have the best Christmas possible.”

The city will also host Australia’s “largest ever” drone swarm show to ring in the New Year and reignite the Docklands precinct.

Crowds are set to be wowed by 350-drones lighting up the night sky over Victoria Harbour – the first to take place in the Southern Hemisphere.

The unique display, developed by drone art company Celestial, will take place on New Year’s Eve, before the 9.30pm fireworks and again at midnight.

The swarm will also run twice a night from January 3 to January 30.

There will also be plenty of entertainment to celebrate the New Year with performances throughout the night, including comedy and circus acts, dance workshops, big bands and local DJs, as well as food trucks and a disco light installation.

Four ticketed celebration zones will be set up throughout the CBD to help manage crowds and adhere to health and safety requirements.

The zones will be at Docklands, Flagstaff Gardens, Alexandra Gardens and Treasury Gardens with family-friendly entertainment from 6pm and localised fireworks shows at 9.30pm and midnight.

The City of Melbourne will partner with Melbourne Food and Wine Festival to host New Year street feasts which will be held across eight precincts and feature live music.

“Fireworks, street feasts and live music will add to the buzz, and we’re thrilled to entice people to celebrate with us in a safe way,” Cr Capp said.

Melbourne Food & Wine Festival and Food CEO Anthea Loucas Bosha said, “We can’t wait to see people lining Melbourne’s streets eating and drinking, and being cared for, by our world-class operators as we ring in the New Year.”   

The full New Year’s Eve program will launch on November 25. Tickets to the celebration zones will be awarded through a Ticketek ballot, while tickets to New Year Street Feasts will be on sale via the Melbourne Food & Wine website. 

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