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    Spend Christmas down under for a dose of festive sunshine
    If you’ve only known cooler climes during the holiday season, a summertime Christmas might be just the ticket this year. Swap your winter jacket for a T-shirt and embrace the outdoor lifestyle that Australian and New Zealand Christmases are famed for.
    People wearing Santa hats on beach. Credit: Getty Images
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    While some people jet off to frosty countries for a white Christmas, spend the holidays differently this year with a summertime getaway in Australia and New Zealand. You’re more likely to find people spending lots of time outdoors sharing food and enjoying nature, rather than being tucked away during the festive season. 

    The Australian tourism board sums it up well: “The holiday season in Australia is unlike just about anywhere else in the world: it’s hot, it’s laid back, and locals tend to spend as much time in the great outdoors as possible.” 

    Combining summery takes on festive cuisine with heart-warming traditional events, such as carolling, here’s how to enjoy a Christmas down under. 

    Seafood platter. Credit: Getty Images

    Credit: Getty Images

    Prawns on a BBQ.  Credit: Getty Images

    Credit: Getty Images

    Swap your roast for a seafood platter in Perth

    While many households in Australia and New Zealand still choose a traditional turkey or ham, it’s also common to find freshly caught seafood on the table, especially oysters, lobster and prawns. And, as you might expect of a celebration in the southern hemisphere, Christmas dinner here often means firing up the barbecue. If you haven’t scored yourself an invite to a Christmas meal in an Aussie home, Perth has no shortage of seafood restaurants. Head to The Art of Seafood for gigantic tiered platters or to The Cray Seafood and Grill for beautiful waterfront dining.

    Pavlova. Credit: Getty Images

    Credit: Getty Images

    Pavlova. Credit: Getty Images

    Credit: Getty Images

    Indulge in pavlova, not pudding in Brisbane

    Boozy fruit cakes may be synonymous with yuletide in the northern hemisphere, but at a proper Australian Christmas, pavlovas are the treat of choice. These light, airy meringues come piled high with summer fruits and cream and regularly take pride of place on the Christmas table. In Brisbane, the usual berries and cream are swapped out for pistachio-topped peaches and moreish mascarpone at the waterfront Riverbar and Kitchen , while the raved-about Anita Gelato specialises in a pavlova-inspired gelato.

    Bondi beach swimming pool. Credit: Getty Images

    Credit: Getty Images

    People dressed up as Santa holding surfboards on a beach. Credit: Getty Images

    Credit: Getty Images

    Hit the seaside, rather than the slopes, across Australia

    With beautiful weather driving locals to the sea, you’ll find people splashing around in crystal clear waters instead of zooming down ski slopes. There’s no shortage of beautiful spots to head to for a beach Christmas in Australia, from Sydney’s famed hotspot Bondi Beach to picturesque Scarborough Beach in Perth. In any case, you’re likely to spot merry-making Aussies having a picnic with loved ones and, if you’re lucky, perhaps even Santa Claus on a surfboard.

    Sidney Myer Music Bowl.
    Festival goers at Sidney Myer Music Bowl

    Join in the carols by candlelight in Melbourne

    Australians take Christmas carolling seriously, and there’s a long-running candlelight tradition dating back to Melbourne in 1937. Started by a radio announcer who decided to bring people together to sing by candlelight, it has since become a nationwide tradition with Melbourne spearheading one of the country’s largest gatherings at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl , where celebrities and musical theatre troupes are set to join this year’s celebrations. If you can’t make the carols in person then Melbourne’s flagship event is livestreamed every year.

    St. Mary's Cathedral lit up at Christmas. Credit: Getty Images

    Credit: Getty Images

    Martin Place's Christmas Tree, Sydney. Credit: Getty Images

    Credit: Getty Images

    Snap pictures of stunning Christmas decorations in Sydney

    New Zealand and Australia light up like Christmas trees over the holiday season, from elaborate house and front garden decorations to professional light shows. Head towards St. Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney on an evening stroll and bask in the projections cast on its stunning facade, accompanied by a choir performance. Also in Sydney, Martin Place’s gigantic Christmas tree , which has more than 110,000 LED lights and baubles shaped like native Australian flowers, is set to return this year. Meanwhile, Kiwis will flock to Auckland’s 328m Sky Tower to see the lights and experience the live music that takes place around the landmark.

    Crimson Christmas tree. Credit: Getty Images

    Credit: Getty Images

    Spot New Zealand’s crimson Christmas trees

    If you’ve chosen a Kiwi Christmas, you’ll find the native pohutukawa tree, identifiable by its bold red flowers, all over the country at Christmas. With festive arrangements and greeting cards featuring the national symbol, the tree has even been worked into local carols - adding to its already strong connection to Maori culture, in which its red petals are believed to have derived from the blood of a legendary warrior .

    Fairy on unicorn in parade
    Santa on his sleigh in the parade
    Sugar plum fairies in a parade

    Join a Santa parade in Auckland

    Head early to grab a prime spot at a New Zealand Christmas joyful Santa parade, where gigantic floats join the jolly red man himself as they stream through the streets. With businesses, charities and more bringing elaborate floats to the famed Auckland Farmers Santa Parade  – which has been running for nearly 90 years – you’re also likely to find a number of smaller events throughout the country, as the tradition has caught on over the decades. Although Auckland has taken down its famous giant Santa statue on Queen Street, you’ll still be able to spot the beloved icon putting his feet up at the Wanaka’s National Transport and Toy Museum .

     

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