Polite Society's December Social Diary

Party season is here! And there’s culture galore for this month’s social butterflies



Although it was first performed at Easter (in 1742), Handel’s Messiah has become so synonymous with Christmas that it’s a regular at concert halls around the world. In Melbourne, the MSO and its choir are sure to deliver a barnstorming oratorio in Hamer Hall, with Chad Kelly conducting and acclaimed soprano Sara Macliver among several stellar soloists. Hamer Hall, December 9 & 10

Meanwhile, for songs that are more blockbuster than Baroque, we’re also booking tickets to Carols In The Domain, in Sydney, and (for our Melbourne team), Carols By Candlelight at Sidney Myer Music Bowl. December 16 & 24

If you’re lucky enough to have a few days off this Christmas, we highly recommend a trip to Melbourne’s NGV for its Triennial, which features works by Tracey Emin, Yoko Ono and breathtaking couture fashion

from Daniel Rosebery at Schiaparelli. It’s the perfect cerebral antidote to all that Christmas cheer/cheese.

In Canberra, the NGA has mounted a retrospective of one of our most important indigenous artists, Emily Kam Kngwarray, whose emotive and atmospheric works on batik and canvas make arresting viewing. It’s part of the National Gallery’s Know My Name initiative, which aims to celebrate the contribution of female artists to our cultural life (hear, hear). NGV Melbourne, opens December 3; NGA, opens December 2

Streaming on Netflix this month is May December, the new movie from Carol’s director Todd Haynes. Natalie Portman stars as an actor who seeks out Julianne Moore, a woman who entered into a controversial relationship with a teenager, to play her in the movie of her life. It’s already award-winning (star Charles Melton just picked up an acting award for his work as the young man in a relationship with Moore’s character) and is sure to be the topic of many WhatsApp group chats this month. The New York Times review is worth reading. Netflix, December 1

A balmy summer evening, glass of sparkling in hand, dog curled peacefully at your feet… and a movie unfolding on a giant outdoor screen. Yes, the Moonlight Cinema is back and we are here for it. In Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, this filmic festival of fun mixes classic movies (including plenty of Christmas flicks like Home Alone) with new releases and the odd special event – we’re booking now for the Top Dog series of heartwarming shorts celebrating dogs and their human companions. Our Polite Society mascot, Hugo, would certainly approve. From December 1, nationwide

There are plenty of raucous options for New Year’s Eve – including Melbourne’s Heaps Good festival and harbourside in Sydney, of course – but we’re inclined to attend a more civilised celebration at the Sydney Opera House, where there are still a few tickets left for a special performance of La Traviata. Far better for the head to watch others indulge on stage than imbibe too many drinks of your own. Sydney Opera House, December 31

European Christmas markets might have holly and snow, but we’re more than happy to settle for sun and a selection of local vegan cheeses at Sydney’s Carriageworks’ Christmas market, with fresh produce and treats just in time for the big day. Meanwhile, the early bird gets the prawns at Sydney Fish Market’s 36-hour Seafood Marathon, which will see stallholders trading for 36 hours straight just before Christmas. More than 100,000 customers are expected, so bring an esky packed with ice and choose an off-beat time to visit. See you there at 4am, then… Carriageworks, December 23; Sydney Fish Market, from 5am, December 23