Big boost for Christmas cheer

Melbourne’s Christmas Festival is set to be expanded by an extra fortnight in 2021, to entice Victorians into the city and provided a boost to CBD traders.

The City of Melbourne will invest $5.8 million in the event, which will run over six weeks instead of the usual four.

The four-week Christmas Festival in 2019 generated more than 100 jobs and created an additional $31 million in economic activity.

According to the Australian Retailers Association, around $13.8 billion is spent in retail and hospitality in Victoria during the festive season.

Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the Christmas Festival will enliven the city throughout November and December with a joyful, jolly, and COVID-safe line-up of entertainment and events for all ages.

“This year’s festival will bring the Christmas buzz by delivering more free and family-friendly entertainment than ever before, including lighting projections, retail activations, a scavenger hunt, Christmas cinema and live performances.

“We will also be assembling a show-stopping 16-metre high Christmas tree covered with more than 30,000 energy efficient LED lights and 500 giant baubles.

“The Christmas period is crucial to attract visitors and encourage spending across retail and hospitality businesses. Some retailers can secure up to 60 per cent of their annual sales in the Christmas period alone. 

“Delivering enticing events and festivals that boost local businesses has never been more important to keep Melburnians in jobs.”

If endorsed by councillors, this year’s festival will start on 12 November 2021. The festival is being delivered as part of the City of Melbourne’s $21.5 million commitment to events.

City Activation Portfolio Lead, Councillor Roshena Campbell, said the extended festival will be welcome news to city businesses.

“Christmas is such a critical time for so many city retailers and it is essential, especially now, that we do everything we can to showcase how marvellous Melbourne is at this time of year,” Cr Campbell said. 

“Nationally, the City of Melbourne is the Local Government Area with the biggest decrease in retail and recreation activity compared to pre-COVID levels.

“We have seen that events drive visitation back to our city and that means a much needed boost for our retailers. That’s why the Christmas Festival will run for longer this year and is packed with free entertainment”.

The City of Melbourne is investing $1.1 million in decorations and event assets across city precincts, and the Christmas Collective will also provide businesses, artists and producers with up to $5,000 in funding to deliver Christmas-themed events and activities across the municipality.

This year’s program has been designed with safety as its highest priority, so visitors can enjoy the Festival in line with COVID guidelines.

Councillors will consider the expanded Christmas Festival event at the Future Melbourne Committee on Tuesday 20 July. 

The Christmas Festival will feature:

  • A 16-metre Christmas tree
  • Santa workshop
  • Interactive activities for families
  • Lighting projections
  • Christmas cinema
  • Creative workshops
  • Scavenger hunts
  • Street parties
  • Retail activations
  • Live performances

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