By Kate Arnold
Vision Australia’s Carols By Candlelight is an annual concert in the heart of Melbourne, just a short walk across the Yarra from Flinders Street Station, which raises money for the charity Vision Australia. All proceeds of ticket sales directly support children who are blind or have low-vision. It’s a magical evening for friends and families to enjoy and get into the Christmas spirit.
One of my favourite Christmas traditions is watching Carols By Candlelight on TV with my mum, grandma and my sisters. We crack open some white wine and buy nice cheeses and sing along to the whole show. Last year we went to Carols at the Sidney Myer Musical Bowl for the first time and here’s our experience and what we would do differently next time.
Get There EARLY
Every one knows this (theoretically WE knew this), but let me say it loud and clear for everyone in the back: Get. There. Early. The event starts at 8pm but you want to be getting there at 6:00 at the latest if you want to get great seating. We bought general admission lawn seats (the cheapest you could buy) so we weren’t expecting great views, but the only seats we could get were at the very back of the lawn and we arrived around 6:30 – 6:45. People camp out all day to get the best lawn seats so just be aware that that’s what you’re competing with.
I know, I know. Christmas is in the summertime in Australia but last year we were freezing. You can buy blankets at the event but they sell out pretty quickly and cost unspeakable amounts of money. You’ll want a picnic blanket to sit on (and some pillows because after a while the grass doesn’t feel so soft anymore) and fold up chairs are a good idea for any older family members you are bringing with you.
It didn’t occur to us that there would be airport grade security to get into an event like this but of course there has to be. This means longer lines to get in, longer waiting times and bag searches. You are allowed to bring in bottled water that’s in a sealed plastic container (not environmentally friendly but a safety precaution). You are not allowed to bring in alcohol or any other drinks that are not in sealed containers (like the iced tea I’d made and sadly had to tip out onto the grass). You can buy alcohol at stands around the venue but it will cost you a pretty penny.
Bring a picnic. Likewise with the alcohol you will be able to buy food like hot chips, burgers and other carnival foods but it’s damn expensive. We brought cheeses and crackers as well as homemade gingerbread biscuits and other finger food. Remember that the event goes over dinner time and you’ll be there pretty late so bring something substantial to eat so that you don’t end up spending hundreds on chips and sausage rolls and the food carts.
Consider Going to the Rehearsal
If you’ve already got Christmas Eve plans and you’re still interested in the event or you don’t want to shell out the money for the tickets then you should consider going to the rehearsal night on the 23rd of December. Tickets only cost $25 for adult and $15 for children. Unfortunately because the tickets are so cheap the rehearsal sells out fast – faster than the actual event – and there are none left for this year’s Carols By Candlelight rehearsal but you should definitely keep it in mind for next year.
Get in the Christmas Spirt
Carols is really a magical experience because it brings families and friends together at a time of giving. It’s a great activity to get you into a festive mood before the big day. There are so many wonderful Christmas carols all about loving one another and isn’t that what Christmas is really all about?
Carols By Candlelight is a great Christmastime activity to do with your family, if you are in Melbourne I would highly recommend going at least once. This year I’m happy to be watching Carols from my living room again but I’m so glad that we went last year and I would definitely go again in the future. Tickets are still available for Carols By Candlelight here.
Don’t forget to check out Laura’s Christmas Guide to Melbourne where she tells you all about Carols as well as other great things you can do in the holiday season like watching Christmas Movies at the Moonlight Cinema and visiting the famous Myers Christmas Windows on Bourke Street and going to the Summer Night Markets at the Queen Vic Markets.
What are your Christmas traditions? I’d love to hear about them in the comments. Have you been to Carols By Candlelight in Melbourne at the Sidney Myer Musical Bowl or do you watch it on TV every year like we do? Let me know.