Two-day Christmas itinerary for families
There is nothing quite like seeing the joy of Christmas light up through the eyes of a child. Create new memories as a family this festive season by making the most of Brisbane’s mammoth free four-week Christmas program across two days. Why two? Because it can’t all be done in one. In fact, you may have to return a few times to catch it all!
Arrive in Brisbane City
If you’ve booked a room for the night, coordinate an early check-in or park the car someplace. We recommend the Novotel Brisbane South Bank, a perfect location and just steps away from all the Christmas action and a short walk to the city. Or stay in the city centre at five-star W Brisbane or heritage Treasury Hotel – both have amazing views over to South Bank. For a more budget-friendly stay in the CBD, try one of the Mantra hotels or others on our list.
It is easy to get cheap parking in the city if you know where to look. Booking online is the best bet, or King George Square is always a flat $5 after 4:30pm weekdays and all-day weekends.
Lunchtime in Brisbane City
Take the kids to one of the CBD’s many great cafes. Botero, Brew, Pando, Felix For Goodness, The Cutting Board and Gardens Club have something for everyone. Find an excellent list of cafes here to keep the hanger pains away.
Afternoon in Brisbane City
Take the kids to find Santa on Queen Street Mall. For mum and dad it's a great chance to hunt for last-minute gifts or to get insider info on what the kids really want from Father Christmas. The Myer Christmas window display is always something to behold and this year it features the adorable Gumnut Babies by beloved author May Gibbs. Step inside the department store to find Santaland, the big man himself and to get a family photo. Hot tip: you can book a free 10-minute spot online to avoid waiting. Make sure you have your wishlist ready!
Keep the festive cheer going over at the Museum of Brisbane with its free or low-cost Christmas activities running all holidays. Pre-Christmas it's about making wreaths and decorations. After enjoy a free City Hall Clock Tour and get a bird's eye view of Brisbane City from one of its most famous buildings.
For a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, hunt down Dello Mano, I Heart Brownies, Amy Sargeanston and Noosa Chocolate Factory for a sweet chocolate or brownie fix.
If the weather is lovely (it usually is!) take a late afternoon stroll through the City Botanic Gardens. It's a great place to let the kids loose so they can work off that excess energy! Alternatively, the super-fun, super crazy Holey Moley mini golf just opened in the Wintergarden Centre – perfect for slightly older kids or teens.
With young ones, make a dinner reservation for 5pm because the Christmas Parade starts at 7pm (13-22 December) and you’ll want find the perfect spot to view the fun festivities. The parade marches into King George Square, so to help you plan an early dinner here are some local family-friendly restaurants - Miss Kay’s for burgers, Corbett & Claude for pizza and Hanaichi for sushi.
Early on in the Christmas program, Roma Street Parkland is the place to be with the twinkling Enchanted Garden taking over the gardens. It is open nightly from 29 November - 13 December.
Make sure you don't miss the Gold Lotto City Hall Lights in King George Square. A custom-designed Christmas tale about a sweet koala is projected onto the historic hall from 6-24 December. Nearby the Lights of St Stephens will breathe life into the historic church from 11-24 December with a spectacular light show projected onto it.
When planning your adventure, keep in mind the free Lord Mayor’s Christmas Carols at the Riverstage on Friday 7 December, and the Lighting of the Christmas Tree in King George Square on 29 November.
Good morning sunshine, it’s a brand new day. No, Santa hasn't visited your house yet, but there is plenty of festive fun to explore in Brisbane City and South Bank.
Morning – take it easy
It’s your mini holiday, so take it easy, sleep in and let someone else cook breakfast (we're fans of the gourmet fare at Botero, Felix For Goodness and Coffee Anthology). Finish off any last-minute shopping in the mall before wandering over the bridge to South Bank or poke around Brisbane City Hall and explore the Museum of Brisbane.
Afternoon – get cultured
At this time of year, South Bank is also in school holiday mode with every gallery, museum and space primed for pure fun. QAGOMA always has something excellent for kids with the Children's Art Centre. This summer little ones can engage with the interactive Island Fashion and Below The Tide Line segments. The State Library has a many exciting kids activities planned for the holidays or head to Queensland Museum and experience its summer exhibition all about spiders (if you dare!) and cool off with a dip at Streets Beach.
Alternatively, stick to the CBD for a few more hours with the Museum of Brisbane. Here to spark your child's curiosity and creativity, the MoB Kids summer program promises hands-on art and design workshops inspired by the current exhibitions High Rotation and New Woman. Before Christmas it's all about festive-themed workshops with Christmas decoration crafting and a rockin' wreath workshop.
What’s for dinner?
South Bank itself is a very family-friendly area and the restaurants around the precinct reflect this. Time it right and make a booking with river views from 20-23 December at Southbank Beer Garden, or any of the River Quay restaurants for river views of the Christmas Fireworks.
Evening – celebrate Christmas tropical style
South Bank's Christmas fun kicks off just a few days before Santa arrives. From 20-23 December head to South Bank in the evening for the Fireworks Spectacular, Santa's Stopover, Carols Extravaganza (ticketed) and Festive Beats throughout the parklands.
More ideas for Christmas cheer...