Two children hold hands with Santa in a light tunnel at Adventure Park's Festival of Lights

10 family-friendly Christmas activities to enjoy 2023

Geelong and The Bellarine really comes alive at Christmas. From the floating Christmas tree at the waterfront to the largest display of festive lights in Victoria, there’s plenty for families to enjoy before Santa’s big day.

Be dazzled at Adventure Park’s Christmas Festival of Lights

Adventure Park doesn’t do things by halves. Known as Victoria’s biggest water theme park, they also have the state’s largest light festival. See the magic of Christmas and fairy tales brought to life in 3.3 million lights over 1000 dazzling light installations and displays, with theme park rides, performances, Santa and more.

It’s easily several hours of fun for the kids and has become an annual tradition for many families.

A child looks inside a lit-up house frame at Adventure Park Christmas Festival of Lights.

See Geelong’s floating Christmas tree 

Tucked between The Carousel and Cunningham Pier, the floating Christmas tree becomes a fixture on the waterfront during the festive season. Running nightly sound and light shows until 7 January, it’s a great free activity the kids can enjoy to get into the Christmas spirit.

While you’re on the waterfront, grab a serve of fish and chips from Geelong Boathouse and settle in for the tree’s show. Follow it up with a ride on the Giant Sky Wheel.

Head to the Christmas projections at City Hall

One of Geelong’s most iconic buildings has had a festive makeover. City Hall will be adorned with Christmas-themed projections each night. From intricately adorned Christmas decorations to the creation of a gingerbread house, the cosy transformation of City Hall into Santa’s Workshop, the projection will evoke the true spirit and wonder of the holiday season.

City Hall facade in Geelong is adorned with Christmas projections.

Sing-a-long to the Christmas classics

It wouldn’t be Christmas without a visit to one of the many carols events in the region. Running for its 60th year, Carols by Candelight on Saturday 23 December (please note date change from Christmas Eve) at Johnstone Park in Geelong is one not to miss. Bring a rug, some snacks and warm up your vocals for an evening of Chrissy classics.

One for the bigger kids, the Geelong Arts Centre plays host to The Ten Tenors on 19 December. The group are no strangers to carols and will belt out the family favourites of It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas, It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year, The Little Drummer Boy, Feliz Navidad and Last Christmas as well as traditional family favourites, including Joy To The World and 0 Holy Night. Ticketed event with bookings required. 

Down on The Bellarine, 360Q is hosting Carols by the Water on December 17. A well-catered festive affair, you can expect a three-course Christmas dinner with children under 12 only $40. Bookings are required. Also on The Bellarine, Portarlington Community Carols on 15 December is a cosy, family-affair that’s popular with locals.

Make something festive at MoPA

All about play-based learning, messy fun and creativity, Museum of Play and Art has added a range of festival activities to enjoy until Christmas eve. Think Christmas stories and make your own festive decorations.

Bookings are recommended as MoPA does book out during the holidays. Until 24 December. 

Christmas decorations at Museum of Play and Art.

Have some festive shopping centre fun

If there’s one place that knows how to “deck the halls”, it’s a shopping centre. Head along to Westfield Geelong, Market Square or Waurn Ponds shopping centres for all kinds of festive fun from getting a photo with Santa and face painting to roaming elves.

Until 24 December.

Enjoy a Christmas-filled day at Geelong Botanic Gardens

Year-round the Geelong Botanic Gardens is a special place for a wander, picnic or moment to appreciate nature. On 16 December it’ll be a hive of free Christmas activity with roaming entertainers, activations and Deck the Halls on the big screen. There’ll be snacks available from the newly reopened tea house and food trucks on site.

Find out more. Held on Saturday 16 December. 

Granny Lee sings on the ukulele in the gardens to a group of young children.

Get a sandy piccy with Santa

Nothing says Aussie Christmas like a beachside photo with the man in red. Throw on your best beach-going gear and head to Ocean Grove for a family photo that’s a little bit different.

Find out more. Until 23 December. 

A young family poses for a photo with Santa at the beach.

Jump onboard the Polar Express 

Running for the first time this year at Bellarine Railway, THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride brings the classic film and story to life. From the Conductor’s memorable question to the lively ‘Hot Chocolate’ dance, a mysterious encounter with the Hobo, carolling onboard the train, and a magical visit from Santa, each moment captures the essence of the movie.

Please note this event is sold out, however there is a wait list. Various dates until 17 December. 

Enjoy a festive morning tea with Santa at The Carousel

Two icons unite this Christmas: Santa and Geelong’s Carousel. Take the kids for a festive morning tea, ride on the historic Carousel and grab a photo with Santa while you’re there.

Bookings are required, with some sessions sold out. Until 23 December. 

Santa poses on the Carousel horses with two children.

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