Carols by Candlelight is an Australian Christmas tradition in which people gather, usually outdoor in a park, to sing carols by candlelight, accompanied by a band. It originated in the 19th century in Moonta, South Australia, where Cornish Miners would gather on Christmas Eve to sing carols lit with candles stuck to the brims of their safety hats.

The tradition spread through Victoria and Melbourne until it was popularised in 1938 by Norman Banks, a radio announcer then with Melbourne radio station 3KZ. Whilst walking home from his night-time radio shift on Christmas Eve in 1937, he passed a window and saw inside an elderly woman sitting up in bed, listening to Away in a Manger being played on the radio and singing along, with her face being lit by candlelight. Wondering how many others spent Christmas alone, he had the idea to gather a large group of people to sing Christmas carols together by candlelight. The first such event, held in Alexandra Gardens the following Christmas in 1938, was attended by around 10,000 people.

Following World War II, the event became so well patronised that it was decided to move it to the neighbouring park in King’s Domain. In 1959, the newly-constructed Sidney Myer Music Bowl provided a permanent venue, where they are still held to this day. Funds raised from donations, ticket, and candle sales go to Vision Australia.

The City of Hobsons Bay also celebrate Christmas by having Carols by Candelight at various locations throughout the municipality. One such event took place at Logan Reserve, Altona on Sunday 11th December starting at 8 p.m.

It was very cold that night and we were late but managed to listen to the last few carols. This event was organized by the Altona/Laverton Council of Churches. The proceeds from the sale of electric candlelights go to the Christmas Bowl Appeal and local charities.

O Holy Night sung by Laura Zammit

Do you hear what I hear sung by by John Connors

Here are details of the Christmas worship at the various churches reproduced from the brochure.


Christmas Eve Christmas Day Other Dates
St Eanswythe’s
Anglican Church

7 Bent St
11.00 pm Carols
11.30 pm Sung Eucharist
7.45 am
Holy Communion
Sun 18th 7 pm
Nine lessons & CarolsWed 21st 6.30 pm
Children’s Service
St Clement’s
Anglican Church

Central Ave,
Altona Meadows
9.30 am
Holy Communion
Fri 23rd 5.30 pm
Children’s Service
Altona Trinity
Uniting Church

7 Seves St
9.00 pm 9.30 am
Salvation Army
Corner Queen &
Bent Streets
9.30 am
Family Service
St Mary’s
Catholic Church

97 Railway North St
6.40 pm Carols
7.00 pm Nativity Play
7.30 pm Mass
9.00 pm Carols
9.30 pm Mass
9.00 am Mass