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The former steel town of Wollongong is home to beautiful beaches, great restaurants and plenty of live entertainment. It's a relaxed town that prides itself on its friendly locals. If you're looking to spend Christmas in Wollongong this year, be sure to join in the Christmas spirit, and to spread some Christmas cheer yourself. Whether it's the Wollongong Christmas decorations, the carols by candlelight or the Christmas shopping, there are plenty of ways to get into the holiday mood.

First things first, you'll need to get the Christmas shopping done. And to make it a stress free affair, why not head into the city, where the fabulous displays of Wollongong Christmas decorations, lights and music will put you in the mood. Crown St Mall is the largest shopping destination in the region, home to over 350 specialty stores, and the huge Wollongong Central shopping mall. Here'll you'll be sure to find all of your Christmas needs surrounded by tinsel, elves, reindeers, and of course, a giant Christmas tree.

Both David Jones and Myer have stores in Wollongong and if you have children, this is where to head. Within each store you'll find magical displays of Christmas characters, tinsel, sleighs and assorted Christmas goodies. Children will have a ball discovering the joys of the in-store displays, and the lavish window displays that are often to be found outside. These panoramas might have a theme such as a nursery rhyme or film, and they can feature moving characters, animation, light and sound. What will the theme be this year?

The City of Wollongong Council often organises a range of Christmas festivities. Last year this included Christmas in the Park at Osborne Park in Wollongong. This was a family day with games, craft, barbeques, food stalls and a jumping castle.

Another popular event was the Lucky Bear's Christmas Party in the Crown St Mall, which featured live performers, roving entertainers, a jumping castle, live animal farm (a hit with the kids), and plenty of activities, games and giveaways. The event raised funds for the Leukaemia Foundation. This is an excellent charity that provides support to families living with leukaemia, lymphomas, myeloma and related blood disorders. Christmas time is the perfect time to help others in need and a donation to the Leukaemia Foundation is a great way to start. You can donate by phone, post or online, and every cent counts.

Wollongong is home to the annual The Spirit of Christmas Festival where families are invited to experience the fun and atmosphere of Christmas with carols, farmyard nursery animals, games and craft, face painting and a live nativity. The event takes place in the Crown St Mall amphitheatre. Keep an eye on the Council's website or local papers for information about this and other Christmas activities, including Carols by Candlelight. Wollongong Carols by Candlelight is a firm family favourite and will no doubt prove a hit once again in 2011.

Another favourite with the kids is of course the suburban lighting extravaganzas. Every year throughout Wollongong, Christmas decorations, lights and even animated displays are on show in the suburbs. Some families go to extraordinary lengths to make truly eye-catching displays. In past years, displays at Cuthbert Dr, Mt Warrigal, Woonona, Farmborough Heights and Albion Park have been some of the most lavish. Keep an eye on local papers to find out where to head in 2011, or better yet, grab the family, jump in the car, and head off on your own adventure. Christmas is about family after all, so however you choose to spend the season, make sure it's with people you love.