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Why You Should Take Your Kids to South Bank this Christmas

Whether your Christmas is marked by family barbecues and beach cricket under the 30-something-degree days, or if you find joy in the more traditional activities like carols by candlelight, one thing is certain – yuletide events in the open summer air are essential to any Christmas celebration in Brisbane.

My family is heading in again this year to South Bank to attend a number of the activities.

Our favourite event at south Bank is the Christmas Show in the Piazza (even the 16 year old still loves that one) and the markets (hello yummy treats and Christmas shopping!). We also stop in the see Santa at Flowstate (have you been?) and catch a movie – it’s epic and it is one of the best ways that my family celebrates Christmas each year. This year, we are staying again at the Novotel in South Bank on the night we go to the Christmas show! #cannotwait

Experience the magic of Christmas at South Bank with your family as Brisbane’s most iconic precinct bursts to life with festive entertainment and activities that will surprise and delight all ages.

Christmas activities for families at South Bank in 2023

Celebrations in South Bank kick off on 1 December and provide festive cheer for all visitors all the way to 23 December. Here is what you will find:

South Bank Christmas Tree – Stanley Street Plaza

  • 1 – 27 December

Start the festive season on 1 December as they ignite the magic of Christmas with the lighting up of the South Bank Christmas Tree. Visitors will also witness the dazzling display of lights, decorations and festive cheer that will fill the parklands.

The Collective Markets – Christmas Edition – Little Stanley Street

The Collective markets - Christmas at South Bank
  • 15 – 23 December

Soak up the festive atmosphere as you explore the stalls on Little Stanley Street and discover a wonderland of beautiful clothing, sparkling jewellery and delightful trinkets at The Collective Markets – Christmas Edition.

Carols by the River – Riverside Green

  • 18 – 23 December

Feel the flow of the music as you sing along to heart-warming carols with the stunning backdrop of the City at Carols by the River. Bring a picnic or get takeaway from the nearby South Bank restaurants and come together with your loved ones for a joyous evening by the river.

Carols by the River is on at 4.30pm, 6pm and 7.15pm every night from 18 – 23 December. Entry is free, no booking required.

Festive Beats presented by eatSouthBank – Little Stanley Street Lawn

  • 18 – 23 December

Unwind and escape the holiday rush with some of Brisbane’s best local musicians bringing Christmas tunes to you live. Relax on South Bank’s green lawns and escape to the Festive Beats.

Festive Beats presented by eatSouthBank is on 4.30pm – 9.30pm daily from 18 – 23 December. Entry is free, no booking required.

The South Bank Christmas Show – South Bank Piazza

The Christmas Show at South Bank
  • 18 – 23 December

Join a chorus of elves as chaos hits Santa’s Workshop the night before Christmas! An all-singing, all-dancing spectacle for all ages, The South Bank Christmas Show features a live band, talented singers, energetic dancers, and a special appearance from Santa himself.

Tickets to The South Bank Christmas Show are $12 per person. Book tickets via the Ticketek website!

Watch our video to see what it it like here.

Holly Jolly Kids

  • 18 – 23 December

Create magical memories with your family at Holly Jolly Kids, South Bank’s kid-centric zone. Enjoy free Christmas and First Nations themed colouring, a beautiful wishing tree installation and the chance to join an Elf Dance Party with a lively 20-minute disco hosted by the North Pole’s spritely residents held daily from 4pm.

Holly Jolly Kids takes place at 4pm, 5pm, 6pm, and 7pm daily from 18 – 23 December. Entry is free, no booking required.

Santa’s Stop Over – Flowstate Precinct

Santa seeing some families at Santa's Stopover - Christmas at South Bank
  • 18 – 23 December

Snap a festive family photo with Santa at the Flowstate precinct, where Santa’s friendly elves are ready to help capture the magic of Christmas for you on your phone. For those who have been naughty this year be prepared for a surprise at Santa’s Stopover from a well-known green man!

Entry to Santa’s Stopover is free however pre-registration is required on arrival at Flowstate. Sessions will be taking place every 30 min from 4pm – 9.30pm daily from 18 – 23 December.

South Bank Christmas Cinema – River Quay Green

  • 18 – 23 December

As the sun sets, get cosy and enjoy Christmas movies at South Bank Christmas Cinema. Bring a blanket, grab a picnic, or indulge in delicious eats from nearby restaurants. It’s the perfect way to unwind and get into the holiday spirit.

Screenings are taking place at 6pm and 8pm daily from 18 – 23 December. Entry to the South Bank Christmas Cinema is free! View the movie schedule below.

Monday 18 December

  • 6pm: The Grinch
  • 8pm: The Happiest Season

Tuesday 19 December

  • 6pm: A Christmas Carol
  • 8pm: The Holiday

Wednesday 20 December

  • 6pm: Elliot the Littlest Reindeer
  • 8pm: 8-Bit Christmas

Thursday 21 December

  • 6pm: Arthur Christmas
  • 8pm: Elf

Friday 22 December

  • 6pm: Home Alone 2
  • 8pm: Batman Returns

Saturday 23 December

  • 6pm: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
  • 8pm: Gremlins

New Year’s Eve fireworks spectacular

The NYE fireworks are going ahead this year. There is many vantage points to view the fireworks and South Bank is one of them!

Find out more about NYE in Brisbane here.

Have a very South Bank Christmas!

Make a trip to South Bank for Christmas festivities a proper adventure, and take a bus, train or ferry to the Parklands. Children under five travel free, and on weekends kids aged 5 to 14 are also free if using their gocards. Check the Translink website for more detailed fare information and timetables. If you do need to drive to South Bank, check parking availability and deals for the many parking stations around South Bank.

What else is on this Christmas in Brisbane 2023?

We’ve got your comprehensive list of where to see the BEST Christmas lights in Brisbane here.

Wanting to head out to some festive Christmas Markets? We’ll tell you where you can buy the ultimate gifts for your loved ones this Christmas from your local community markets!

If you’re ready to belt out a few carols at one of Brisbane’s many Christmas Carol events read this article.

Photo of author

Janine Mergler

Janine Mergler is a veteran Queensland teacher, graduating from QUT with a BEd majoring in Social Sciences. After many years in the classroom, Janine moved on to academia. She has proudly trained new generations of teachers in her role as a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Education. She has also worked in the Queensland Government as an education specialist, developing education resources and delivering community awareness programs to help families conserve water. Currently she is the owner and editor of Families Magazine, a publication specifically targeted at parents who value a quality education for children.  Janine leads a team of professionals who write about family lifestyle, early childhood, schools and education information and family-friendly events.

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