Big Christmas Day Out: 1-day family adventure

Mum and dad, are you ready for this? It’s the ultimate Christmas-themed big day out for all. Brisbane’s mammoth four-week Christmas program actually can’t be tackled in one day. You’re going to have to make some tough decisions about what to see and experience or come back another day to join the free festive fun.

On that note, we’ve also written a two-day guide for families that will have you making the most of #ChristmasInBrisbane this year, so check that one out too.

Late morning – market time


Start the day at South Bank where the Gift Market in the Christmas Village takes over the cobbled streets of Stanley Street Plaza from 11am for eight days (16-23 December). Let the kids jump on and light up the market’s custom-built, pedal-powered Christmas tree while you shop for locally made gifts, Christmas treats and ornaments to the sounds of carollers and live music.

Since the whitest Christmas we’ll get in Brisbane is by the soft, light sand at Streets Beach, why not let the kids enjoy a hot December dip in the pool. 

Lunch at South Bank

Hungry? Our tummies are grumbling. If you didn’t find sufficient food at the markets, try nearby Zeus Street Greek, Mister Paganini for crowd-pleasing pizza, pick up a picnic basket from Popolo and lie out on River Quay Green, or pop by the Arbour View Cafes where you will find fast-food outlets for a quick feed.

Early afternoon – get cultural

Qld Museum

At this time of year, South Bank is also in school holiday mode with every gallery, museum and space primed for fun. Pop by the free exhibitions and children’s activity centre at QAGOMA, check out what’s happening at the State Library, drop into the Gladiators exhibition at the Queensland Museum and finish with a dip at Streets Beach (if you haven’t already).

Evening – choose your own adventure

Come evening you have a choice: You can stay on the South Bank side of the river or cross a bridge into the CBD. It’s time to choose your own adventure, so read on below (or turn your trip to the city into a two-day staycation and tick it all off).

Cross the bridge to Brisbane City

Myer Christmas Parade & Pantomime

There’s something especially romantic about seeing the Christmas Parade go by. The parade starts outside QueensPlaza and winds its way down the Queen Street Mall, turning at Albert St and into King George Square. Running nightly at 7pm from 15-24 December.  

Gold Lotto City Hall Light Spectacular

After the parade it should be dark and late enough to see the giant tree lit up and view the Gold Lotto City Hall Light Spectacular – a crazy-cool 3D animated projection on to Brisbane City Hall from 7.30pm-midnight.

If you’re in town too early for the parade, from 8-17 December Roma Street Parkland features the top Christmas program events and will be home to the brand new Enchanted Gardens, plus be playing Christmas flicks on the lawn. It’s just a short walk from the city centre. Afterwards you can check out the light projections on City Hall too.

Extra note: If you plan your trip specifically for Saturday, 9 December, the Lord Mayor’s Christmas Carols are on at Riverstage from 5-9pm.

Dinner in the city

Corbett & Claude, Elizabeth St

If the little ones are hungry, escape to Jamie’s Italian, Bavarian Bier Café or Corbett & Claude for dinner and come back to view the light projections and tree afterwards. December is a busy time in the city, so best make a reservation to be safe.

Stay on the South Bank side of the river

Sparkling fireworks at South Bank

If you choose to stay on the South Bank side of the river, check out Christmas Carols in The Piazza nightly between 20-23 December. Pull up a bean bag or dive into Streets Beach for Christmas flicks at 6.30pm and 8.30pm every night between 16-23 December. And don’t miss the fireworks over the river at 7.45pm nightly from 20-23 December (Streets Beach is a prime spot to watch them and get a good seat for the free cinema).

Dinner in South Bank

South Bank itself is a very family-friendly area and the restaurants around the precinct reflect this. Stop in for dinner before the cinema at Ginga Sushi Train, Bamboo Basket, and Guzman y Gomez, or time it right and make a booking with river views from 20-23 December at South Bank Surf Club, Southbank Beer Garden or any of the River Quay restaurants to get a solid view of the sparkly action.

After dinner – get enchanted

If you didn’t manage to fit it in before dinner, check out the Enchanted Garden at Roma Street Parkland from 9-18 December, or pop by King George Square to see the City Hall lights from 8-24 December and the giant Christmas tree lit up.

Phew, what a big day! 

More ideas for Christmas cheer...