Carols by Candlelight
Carols by Candlelight is an Australian Christmas tradition that originated in southeastern Australia in the 19th century and was popularised in Melbourne in 1937. The tradition has since spread around the world. It involves people gathering, usually outdoors in a park, to sing carols by candlelight, accompanied by a band. Today, the largest such event is held annually at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne's King's Domain Gardens on Christmas Eve since 1938.
One of the earliest forms of Carols by Candlelight began in the 19th century, when Cornish Miners in Moonta, South Australia gathered 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 all sing Christmas carols together by candlelight. The first ever such event was held in Alexandra Gardens the following Christmas, 1938, and was attended by around 10,000 people.
Following World War II, the Carols became so well patronised that the decision was made 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 are given to Vision Australia (formerly the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind, RVIB).
The program is broadcast live every Christmas Eve by the Nine Network from the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Australia-wide. The event is also broadcast live to eastern Asia, many Pacific Islands and New Zealand. The event was hosted for 18 years by Ray Martin. Because of the arrangement the show often features Nine stars such as Hi-5, and more recently, stars from Nine's hit series, The Voice.
|Years||Host||Australian TV Network|
|1980–1989||Brian Naylor||Nine Network|
|2008–2012||Lisa Wilkinson||Karl Stefanovic|
Similar events are now held all over Australia, usually arranged by churches, local councils, or other community groups. They are normally held on Christmas Eve or the Sunday or weekend before Christmas.
Christmas Eve 2012 marked the 75th anniversary of Carols by Candlelight, a much loved event that has become a tradition in households around Australia.
In North Balwyn Carols in the Park is held annually. In 2011 it moved to Macleay Park, North Balwyn and in 2013 will be on Saturday 14 December. Formerly known as Carols by Candlelight it was first held in 1980 in Leigh Park and has been drawing an estimated four to five thousand people. The brass band Boroondara Brass leads the Carols and will be joined this year by the Open Door Singers. Santa, stunt motorcyclist David Russell, usually lands in on his trusty Suzuki motorcycle sleigh. The Carols conclude with a spectacular fireworks display. Tim Blowfield, Committee, North Balwyn InterChurch Council 2013.
In 2012, 10,000 people attended the celebration in Victoria.
In Geelong, there is Denis Walter's Carols by the Bay held on the first Saturday of December. This is the third largest Carols by Candlelight event in Australia, behind Sydney and Melbourne. It is held at Eastern Beach and is a free event. There is also Carols in the Park in Johnston Park on Christmas Eve.
In Perth, Carols by Candlelight are held in mid December at the Supreme Court Gardens, while other events are held at Fremantle, Scarborough and Rockingham. In 2012, Suzie Mathers performed during the IGA Carols by Candlelight in Perth
In Canberra the annual Carols by Candlelight is held in Commonwealth Park on Stage 88. 2012 was its 68th occurrence. It is a traditional Carols with community singing of carols lead by Woden Valley Youth Choir and one of the local bands such as Canberra City Band. Guest Artists are featured - usually drawn from the local community. The event is normally held on the last Wednesday of the school term, from 7.00 pm. Donations are collected for a local charity with $14,180 raised in 2012 for the Snowy Hydro Southcare Helicopter service. In 2011 and 2012, Auslan interpreters provided interpretation for members of the regional deaf community and that service is expected to continue.
- Vision Australia's Carols by Candlelight Retrieved 27 April 2013
- Carols By Candlelight singers wow thousands of families at the Sidney Myer Music bowl Retrieved 27 April 2013
- Photo Gallery of PerthNow, 2012 Carols by Candlelight Retrieved 26 April 2013
- Rain stays away for Carols y Candlelight at Elder Park Retrieved 27 April 2013
- Canberrans in tune with carol spirit Retrieved 8 July 2013
- Vision Australia official site
- Carols by Candlelight had lonely beginning (Includes further information on Norman Banks)
- Council Conflicts over carols by candlelight at ABC News Australia Retrieved 27 April 2013
- Woden Valley Youth Choir website