Darwin Christmas: The Best things to do (2023)

Darwin Christmas

A Darwin Christmas is by far my favourite. I know that I am bias because I grew up in the Northern Territory (NT), but Christmas really is the best time of year in Darwin. The Christmas period in Darwin is also known as the wet season to the locals. Although it is difficult to sightsee and explore the outback during this time, there is still so much more to enjoy. As the holiday season approaches, Darwin, the vibrant capital of the NT, gears up to celebrate Christmas in its unique tropical style. Embrace the festive spirit and explore the array of activities and attractions this lively city has to offer during this joyous time.

I want to begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the lands mentioned. I would like to pay my respects to Elders past, Present and Emerging. The traditional owners of Darwin are the Larrakia (saltwater) people. Larrakia country runs far beyond the boundaries of Darwin, covering the area from the Cox Peninsula in the west to the Adelaide River in the east.

Now let’s get into what Darwin has to offer.

Darwin Christmas Lights

Darwin Christmas lights

Darwin puts on a beautiful display of Christmas lights throughout the city. From the Darwin Waterfront all the way to Palmerston you will be able to find Christmas lights, if you know where to look.

The best way to find Christmas lights is to join the Darwin/Palmerston Christmas Lights facebook page. The facebook page will give you the latest addresses, a sneak preview and where to find all the best Darwin Christmas lights each suburb.

Christmas at the Darwin Waterfront

Join in the celebrations at Darwin Waterfront, where Christmas-themed events and entertainment light up the precinct. Keep an eye out for special Christmas carol performances and dazzling light displays that add to the holiday atmosphere.

Each year the Darwin Waterfront puts on a Christmas display and this year it’s called Liquid Light. Liquid Light, created by Oracle Liquid is an Australian company. Liquid light will transform the Darwin Waterfront lagoon into a water, light, and sound spectacle starting from 25 November 2023. The five-week show, featuring laser projection, water fountains, flames, and animations, will run three times each nights, culminating on New Year’s Eve. Check out the Darwin Waterfront website for all the details.

Cool down at the Waterfront Wave Pool

Over the Christmas season, the wave pool at Darwin Waterfront is a terrific spot to cool off. Boogie boarders will love the Wave Lagoon’s ten distinct wave patterns, which range from mild swells to waves as high as 1.2 meters. Every cycle has a 20-minute pause in between. Bring your own tubes and boogie boards, but no surfboards. Although there are sun loungers and shaded spots, you are free to bring your own portable, lightweight shade tents and picnic rugs.

Cocosaurus Cove

Crocosaurus Cove

Spend your Darwin Christmas at the Crocosaurus Cove, there’s always something to do, rain or shine. Crocosaurus Cove, which houses the greatest collection of Australian reptiles in the world and some of the country’s largest saltwater crocodiles, is a must-see destination for travelers to Darwin and the Top End. Pack a change of clothes if you’re brave enough to Swim with the Crocs. Go on one of the Fishing for Crocs platforms, or cradle a newborn saltwater crocodile. View the 200,000 litre freshwater aquarium with its Barramundi, Archer Fish, and Whiprays. Stop by the Top End Turtle Billabong to see the turtles.
Located in the centre of Mitchell Street, Darwin City, the ultimate urban wildlife experience has everything and more in store for you.


Darwin Christmas Sunsets

Casuraina Beach

I’ve been told by visitors that Darwin has some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world. This is especially true if you are visiting for a Darwin Christmas. The wet season Christmas period is also known for it’s weather and storms. These storms bring some of the most breathtaking sunsets you’ll ever experience.

Discover the enchantment of Darwin’s sunsets, as the sky turns into a vibrant canvas with tones of amber, scarlet, and gold. Darwin, Australia’s tropical north coast city, is well-known for its amazing evening shows that enthral visitors from all over the world.

Darwin Christmas Sunset

Christmas Wonderland in Palmerston

Palmerston Christmas

Palmerston is only a stones throw from Darwin city and hosts the Christmas Wanderland in Goyder square. Celebrate the return of Christmas Wonderland and uncover its charm. It will return for eight jam-packed, celebratory nights, starting 16 December 2023. The event is free to enter and registration is not required. Experience the express train through the twinkle tunnel. Santa’s house with the live entertainment stage for the kids. The snow tent, light installations, interactive musical floor, nutcracker garden and the Christmas tree.

For those that require a more relaxed, sensory friendly atmosphere. This event is catering for people who benefit from lower sensory stimulation. The low sensory event occurs on 15 December 2023 only and requires registration. Registration is free however, attendance will be capped at 100 people, so get in quickly. Check out the City of Palmerston website for all the details.

Window on the Wetlands

Window on the wetland

The Window on the Wetlands Visitor Center is the ideal stopover on the route to Adelaide River, Mary River and Kakadu National Park. It is situated on Beatrice Hill, one of the highest places overlooking the amazing expanse of the Adelaide River Floodplain. The wet season Christmas period is the best time to visit the wetlands. The views of the wetlands are even more beautiful during this time. If you’re lucky, you may be graced by sunshine showers and rainbows over the wetlands.

Casuarina Beach

Casuraina Beach

Casuarina Beach, a charming stretch of coastline known for its natural beauty and calm environment. Offers an abundance of tranquility for beach lovers and wildlife enthusiasts alike. It’s tucked away along Darwin’s sun-kissed coastlines. Stretching many kilometres along the Timor Sea, Casuarina Beach features immaculate sands and ocean waters that entice guests to relax and take in the serenity. The sunsets and smooth sands are the perfect backdrop for photographers, a leisurely stroll or just to relax.

Watch the Darwin Christmas storms roll in

While many countries around the world associate winter and snow with Christmas. A Darwin Christmas means a warm tropical wet season and storms. Darwin is known as the storm capital of Australia. With its breathtaking storms that occasionally interrupt the area’s relaxed environment. Thunderous storms, a raw and compelling show of nature, greet Darwin as the wet season approaches. The storms have incredible force when they arrive. The horizon is illuminated by the crackling electricity of frequent lightning strikes, casting a shadow over the gathering dense clouds. The city is filled with the reverberating sound of thunder, preparing the audience for a symphony of the natural elements.

Darwin Jumping Crocodile Cruise

Crocodile jumping cruise

The jumping crocodile cruises are a thrill that can be experienced year round. Just a little further past Window on the Wetland, the cruises generally only close on Christmas day. The cruise entrance is well above the surrounding floodplain, meaning you can usually access it year round. Jumping crocodile cruises on the Adelaide River begun in the 1970s. The Adelaide River is a renowned habitat for various wildlife, including saltwater crocodiles, white-bellied sea eagles, and the critically endangered spear tooth shark and large tooth sawfish. This activity is always a year round favourite for visitor to the Territory.

Litchfield National Park

Litchfield Park

Venture into the lush wilderness of Litchfield National Park, a place of tumbling waterfalls, glistening plunge pools, and fascinating termite mounds just waiting to be discovered. Admire the breathtaking Wangi Falls or Florence Falls, each waterfall a testament to nature’s artistry.
Despite the fact that Litchfield floods annually, this year’s wet season arrived late. Which means the park may still be open to you. The rain only enhancing the beauty of the waterfalls. This time of year, I wouldn’t recommend hiking for long periods as the extreme temperatures can be deadly.

Before you set out on any adventure, make sure to check the Road Report NT website and NT Parks website.

Kakadu National Park

The Cooinda Lodge in Kakadu National Park is the ideal Christmas destination. It is the perfect starting point for seeing central and southern Kakadu, which includes the Burrungkuy (Nourlangie) Rock Art Site, Jim Jim Falls, Twin Falls, Maguk Gorge, and Motor Car Falls. During the wet season you will need to be prepared with a 4WD to experience the lush beauty of Kakadu.
Beneath a canopy of trees, the village-style resort is next to Yellow Water Billabong, the site of the internationally recognized Yellow Water Cruises. On the cruise visitors may witness crocodiles, birds, and a variety of species on the flood plain surrounded by freshwater mangroves, paperbark and pandanus trees.
Cooinda Lodge, features shaded swimming pools, bistro-style dining, a bar, a gas station, and a store with a variety of necessities for traveling in addition to locally made crafts.

Before you set out on any adventure, make sure to check the Road Report NT website and NT Parks website.

Sunset and Dinner Cruises

Darwin Christmas Sunset Cruise

On a Darwin dinner cruise, picture yourself cruising along the water as the sun sets, creating a striking rainbow of hues across the sky. These cruises offer an amazing blend of scenic beauty and gourmet delights, creating unforgettable experiences against a stunning backdrop. Perfect for foodies, adventure seekers, or romantics at heart. During the wet season I highly recommend booking the Charles Darwin Dinner cruise. This cruise provides seated dinning with air conditioning, which is a bonus during this hot time of year.

Budget Tips for Darwin

  1. Use cash back apps when booking activities. Viator is my favourite site for tours and activities.
  2. Hire a car and create your own adventure.
  3. Book an apartment or Airbnb. With your own kitchen you can save on meals by cooking.
  4. Check out the City of Darwin and City of Palmerston websites or facebook for free things to do.

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