Posts Tagged ‘carols by candelight’

As Christmas didn’t quite feel like Christmas to us we wanted to do something unique and memorable, something that we could say was perfect for our Australian Christmas.  If you ask Australians if there is something as a traditional Aussie Christmas you may hear of two different options; one, a day at the beach or two, Vision Australia’s Carols by Candlelight at Sidney Myer Music Bowl.  We opted for the latter.

In its 74th year, Carols by Candelight is put on in Melbourne by non-profit organization Vision Australia, who, according to their website, ‘are passionate that people who are blind or have low vision will have access to and fully participate in every part of life they choose’.  A Chrismas concert on steroids, this mega-event gets over 10,000 attendees and is broadcast all over Australia starting at 8PM Christmas eve.  As we found, the event is not only about the great music, for many it’s about the whole-day experience and we did it up in a-once-in-a-lifetime way.

We opted for the more cost-effective general admission tickets which gave us access to the big lawn on which to watch the concert.  Without assigned seats, however, we were told that people started queuing quite early to ensure good spots on the lawn.  Doors to the music bowl didn’t even open until 4:30PM but there was space for the queue at King’s Domain in the Royal Botanic Gardens.  This being our first time at the event, we arrived at King’s Domain to queue around 10:30 AM and surprisingly, we were not the first ones there.  Several people spent the night in tents to claim their spots as first in queue.  The queueing process as a mess and so disorganized and I hate to admit the bah-humbug came out in both of us when we remarked at how it would never be this disorganized in the US.  (But keep reading for our take on how what the Aussies do much better than us…)

Equipped with festival chairs, a blanket, two picnics (lunch and dinner), ipods, books, decks of cards, sunscreen, and plenty of water we set up camp waiting for the doors to open at 4:30PM.  We did enjoy a somewhat restful day reading and listening to music in the sun.

We were advised by some regulars that when the doors opened, one person should carry the bags and one person should run with the blanket to secure a good spot.  I was the runner, Ryan was the “pack-mule” as he likes to say.  Running, pushing and shoving aside, I managed to get a primo location right behind the assigned (read: expensive) seats.

The event began promptly at 8:00 with performances by the Australian Boys and Girls choir and the Carols by Candelight Choir.

We were serenaded all night with classic and contemporary Christmas songs sung by famous Australian artists including; Ricki-Lee Coulter, Marina Prior, John Foreman, James Morrison, Anthony Callea, Sylvie Palladino and many more.

As dusk settled upon Melbourne, people started to light their candles.

This was really something to see the darker it got.

The highlights for me were the Hallelujah Chorus and O Holy Night.

And both of our favorite part of the night was the last song, the Our Father.  A song like that would never be allowed to be the closer at a national event of this scale, at least not without a series of other politically correct songs accompanying it.  We were delighted and, quite frankly, admired the Aussies for ending the night with such a religious undertone and reminding us all what the night was about.  As Ameri-stralians, we were honored to have experienced Christmas in this Australian way.

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