December in the Lion City is the season of showers and cool weather. The sun beams at us every now and then, before clouds gather for snug weather. Looking out at clear skies and intermittent sunshine on a fine afternoon, I was reminiscing summer Christmases.
Re-visiting my library of photos from past Christmases, I felt like I was unboxing a time capsule. I was especially delighted to see some old pics of South Bank in Brisbane, Queensland. Having lived in Brisbane where Christmastime is in the height of summer, I’ve been treated to experiences that are kind of similar to the Northern Hemisphere’s ‘Christmas in July’, but grander! This year’s festivities at South Bank are modified for social distancing purposes. Nevertheless, I’m inspired to share a little South Bank travel post in the spirit of a summer Christmas.
Grab your sunnies (sunglasses), because it’s time for a mini Christmas visit Down Under!
South Bank is one of the locations that exudes happiness and calmness. Happiness stems from various celebrations that are held there – especially Christmas and New Year. As for calmness, walking along the Brisbane River and stopping every now and then to admire the city’s evolving skyline is food for the soul. Christmas is my favorite time of the year (and New Year’s Eve) to visit South Bank and its vicinity, as it buzzes with Yuletide fun under the sizzling sun.
One of best parts about Christmas anywhere in the world is wandering the local festive markets. South Bank’s Christmas market isn’t close to the ones you see in Christmas films. It’s a stark contrast to wintery settings! Instead of being bundled in coats and scarves, everyone’s chilling in outfits like T-shirts and shorts, or summer dresses! Beanies are traded for summer hats, and sunscreen is your best friend.
A quintessential Queensland day features the radiant sun (it is the Sunshine State, after all!) Albeit sunshine and heat, the spirit of Christmas sweaters came alive when I visited the market. The decorations featured classic candy cane-like red and white designs that looked like they stepped out – or galloped, in the reindeer’s case – from a sweater! Food stalls invite foodies with their tempting aromas that whisper “taste me!”, and browsing all of the stalls for cute handcrafted Christmas gifts (like toys and jewelry) that are made with love by individuals who are passionate about their crafts is unmissable.
Sweet lemon iced tea (in a cute mason jar-like glass that I got to keep!) from the iced tea stall is exactly what you’ll need for some fun under the sun – it certainly kept me refreshed as I wandered around! Having a mini Christmassy picnic at the South Bank Parklands with iced tea and other munchies from the market definitely spells ‘SUMMER’.
Another place in South Bank that truly showcases Brisbane’s iconic Christmas is the man-made Streets Beach. Who needs to cool down in a swimming pool when you’ve got a beach in the inner-city area?! A visit to the Streets Beach (named after the ice cream brand) is a beach experience like no other. Sans waves and a ginormous ocean, every visitor is treated to amazing views of the city’s skyline. Even if you aren’t planning to dip your feet into the water, standing on the mini broadwalk and admiring the fun landscape is enjoyable.
Taking movie nights to another level, the beach comes alive with Christmas movie screenings on evenings leading to the big day. Imagine joining Buddy the Elf on his adventure in New York City through the screen at this beach! That’s not all that South Bank has to offer when the sun begins to go down…
My highlight of South Bank’s Christmas festivities is undoubtedly the dazzling Christmas fireworks. 15-minute firework displays are held on four consecutive evenings prior to Christmas Eve – usually from 20th to 23rd December. All eyes are glued to the Brisbane River’s riverbank in wonder, which is where the heart of the experience is located. Soaking in the great joy from every person who gathers to spectate the stunning fireworks display is electrifying too.
A Christmas soundtrack (with the best festive hits) accompanies the fireworks, which sparkles in the dark sky above us. It’s irresistible to smile, and say “ooh” and “wow” at the glittering fireworks and its spectacular designs. This is one of the most cordial welcomes to Christmas I’ve seen!
I hope to return to South Bank and enjoy a summery Christmas celebration in the future!