One of the traditions we usually do when we come back to Melbourne during the Christmas season is to go into the Central Business District and check out all the Christmas decorations. One of the Christmas traditions of Melbourne is the annual gingerbread village by Epicure. Each year, the gingerbread village seems to get bigger and bigger: this year, it’s located at St. Collins Lane and is the biggest one to date: it has over 600 kg of gingerbread, 460 kg of royal icing, and 200 kg of marzipan. All of the village is sculpted into a mini representation of Melbourne and some of its most loved and iconic landmarks. The personal highlights for me historically have been Luna Park, Federation Square, Flinders Street Station, and the Melbourne Arts centre, most recognized for its tall spire. This year, some new additions I really enjoyed include the Royal Botanical Gardens and the Osaka Castle (no, not because there’s an Osaka Castle in Melbourne, but because Osaka is Melbourne’s sister city). And there’s even a bit of a Christmas market in the form of food stalls this year with very Asian dishes being served, such as dumplings and ramen! Unfortunately the mini food representations did not match up (they only had hamburgers and hot dogs), but I still appreciated the effort to show how Asian Melbourne (and really, Australia) is. I also found that this year’s gingerbread village was by far the most fragrant and spicy of them all. As you walked through the village, there was absolutely no doubt you were surrounded by gingerbread.
The gingerbread village seeks to raise money for the Royal Children’s Hospital and has raised more than $195K AUD since opening. It’s been quite a treat to experience this nearly every year, and for next to nothing given they are purely operating on a donations basis. On the other hand back in the US, the gingerbread village available for viewing in New York City, said to be the largest in the world and located at the New York City Hall of Science in Queens, requires that you pay admission to the Hall of Science, which is $16 per adult and $13 per child. The Melbourne experience just feels a lot more accessible and inclusive to me, not to mention that it’s located in the heart of the city, so it’s easy to get to for everyone. Just love this tradition and getting the privilege to enjoy this beauty every year.