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The first Carols by Candlelight

On December 24, 1938, Melbourne hosted its very first Carols by Candlelight when approximately 10,000 people came together at midnight at Alexandra Gardens to sing carols, backed by a small choir, two soloists and the Metropolitan Fire Brigade. 

Carols by Candlelight began as the concept of Norman Banks MBE, a veteran of radio. On Christmas Eve in 1937, he noticed an elderly woman sitting by her window, her face lit only by a candle. Next to her was a radio and she was singing along to the Christmas carol, Away in a Manger. It was at this moment that Banks was inspired to create a gathering of people to sing Carols by Candlelight. 

Side of stage looking up at the Carols crowd, and see some performers on stage

Decades of Christmas joy

Now a beloved Australian Christmas Eve tradition, Vision Australia’s Carols by Candlelight has a wonderful history of supporting children who are blind or have low vision. 

From humble beginnings, Carols by Candlelight has grown into an institution of Christmas magic, with star performers over the years including Gladys Moncrieff, Madame Florence Austral, James Morrison, Little River Band, John Farnham, David Campbell and Marina Prior.

Two ladies, one dressed as an elf, have their hands up and smiling amongst a crowd