Leading the build-up and bringing the festive season to life, Myer is soon to unveil its 64th year of magical Christmas windows. This long standing tradition brings in families of all generations, reminiscing childhood experiences and continuing on the cherished tradition.
The windows also build anticipation and excitement for the people of Melbourne, for Christmas itself but also to what exciting tale will be unveiled. Each year’s theme is kept under wraps until the big reveal in November, drawing in many excited spectators.
Planning and preparation for the windows begin before the current windows have even been pulled out of display. The theme is firstly discussed and decided upon, based on either a children’s book or nursery rhyme, and then broken into 6 parts, a section of the story for each window.
The history behind the windows
The windows were created by the beloved Freddie Asmussen. He began his career at Myer in 1928 working as a "wheeler boy", where he pushed a wicker cart around the store, picking up and delivering goods.
He discovered he has a flare for arranging merchandise, and soon moved to the display department where he learned the techniques of dressings window, gradually developing his own unique and individual styles. In 1939 when he was still in his 20's, Fred was put in charge of the Bourke Street windows.
In 1956 Fred managed to convince a sceptical management to try something totally new in the Bourke Street windows for Christmas. Instead of filling the windows with the usual range of gift giving ideas, and an abundance of product, he'd create a celebration of the Olympics, recognise the technological marvel of television, and make sure Santa was there to oversee the whole production.
And so it was that "Santa and the Olympics" appeared in the Bourke Street windows. And an iconic Melbourne tradition was born! Asmussen then designed every Christmas window until his passing in 1974.
What previous themes have there been?
Each year the Christmas windows are inspired by a different children’s story or rhyme. Since the first unveiling in 1956, past themes have included The Nutcracker (1957) and Aladdin (1958), to more recent years featuring Elf’s Journey (2017) and Alice in Wonderland (2018).
The themes are continuously based on children’s stories to encourage reading, with children eager to pick up the book of whichever tale is showcased. Several themes have also been repeated throughout the years, including popular fairy tales such as Cinderella and Snow White.
The most memorable themes created by Asmussen included The Nutcracker (1957), Arabian Nights (1966) and Santa’s Journey into Space (1962). Since John Kerr’s takeover, the most recent memorable years include The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (2003) and Olivia Helps with Christmas (2009).
Along with children’s stories, inspiration for the year’s windows can also come from current events or news happening across the globe. The inspiration for Santa’s Journey into Space for example came easily as space travel was the new phenomenon, capturing the imaginations of people across the world and questioning what can be possible in the future.
When and where will this year's windows take place?
From concept design to the big reveal, the windows remain a unique and extraordinary feature of Melbourne, loved by audiences of millions.
Discover 2019s Christmas windows at the grand reveal from 11:00am on Sunday 10th November. The windows will then be on display up until the first week of January 2020, located on Bourke Street, Melbourne.
Myer will continue to cherish the well-loved tradition every year, so make sure you don't miss out on what 2019 has to offer.
Join us to experience the magical unveiling of our Christmas windows with performances by the Melbourne Gospel Choir and The Australian Ballet School. The kids can have fun on our giant colouring wall, while Christmas elves, ballerinas and fairies hand out Christmas themed treats. Don’t miss Santa’s arrival, welcomed by our special guest MC. There’ll also be a pop up bar serving sparkling wine, sparkling and still water, and a lemon blood orange and cranberry sparkling. Plus our first 200 customers on the day will receive a free giveaway.