Worldwide icon-chevron-right South Pacific icon-chevron-right Australia icon-chevron-right Melbourne icon-chevron-right Cheap hacks for Melbourne's winter culture
A Lightness of Spirit is the Measure of Happiness ACCA 2018 photo supplied
Photograph: Andrew Curtis A Lightness of Spirit is the Measure of Happiness at ACCA

Cheap hacks for Melbourne's winter culture

The frost may be biting, but so is the culture bug – here's how to get the most out of Melbourne's arts scene on a budget

By Ben Neutze

When Netflix is beckoning and several layers are required to step outside, making the trek to a gallery, theatre or cinema mightn't seem like the most attractive choice. But if you're willing to make the effort, there's plenty of great art and culture you can see in Melbourne this winter for free or super cheap.

Recommended: Where to go ice skating in Melbourne.

A Lightness of Spirit is the Measure of Happiness, ACCA 2018 photo supplied
Photo by Jackson Lee

1. See ACCA's latest, A Lightness of Spirit, for nada

There are plenty of free exhibitions around town this winter, but one of our favourites is A Lightness of Spirit, featuring new works by ten leading Aboriginal artists about everyday, contemporary Indigenous life. There are watercolours, oversized sculptures, and even a spaghetti western film set in the Australian outback.

Japonisme - NGV 2018 photo supplied
Yashima Gakute, Stone bridge over the Aji River at Mt. Tempō (Osaka Ajikawa, Tempōzan Ishibashi) c. 1834

2. Skip NGV's MoMA exhibition and see Japonisme for free

OK, well, don't skip MoMA at NGV if you've got the cash, but if you need a hit of modern art there's an exhibition at the gallery exploring its birth. Japonisme shows the relationship between western modern art and Japanese art, presenting western and Japanese works side by side. Alongside artworks like Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s 'Divan Japonais' poster, the NGV has assembled a full British domestic interior full of Japanese influences.


3. Visit this free exhibition at Melbourne's newest major gallery

Buxton Contemporary opened just opposite Melbourne Theatre Company's Southbank Theatre earlier this year and is about to open its first survey exhibition: Ronnie van Hout: No One is Watching You (Jul 12 to Oct 21). It features three decades of tragicomic work from the New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based artist, with video, sculpture and photography work.

On stage at Snow White
Photograph: Jean-Claude Carbonne

4. Catch a show at Arts Centre Melbourne for $30

If you've never tried your hand at tixatsix, what are you waiting for? Every night from 6pm, Arts Centre Melbourne puts a bunch of tickets on sale for just $30 to shows across its venues. There's no guaranteeing which shows will have tickets available this winter, but there's plenty to see with Melbourne Theatre Company's An Ideal Husband (starring Kath and Kim's Gina Riley), Bell Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and Ballet Preljocaj's dark and moody take on Snow White.

The Antipodes Red Stitch 2018 photo supplied
Photograph: Supplied

5. Head to a Red Stitch preview for $23

There's always stellar acting at Red Stitch, based out of a cosy red barn in St Kilda, and you've always got the chance to see great performances up close. Tickets are usually $55, but if you go in the preview period you'll be slicing that price in half, paying just $23. This winter the theatre is returning to the work of one of America's greatest playwrights, Annie Baker, and presenting the Australian premiere of her new play, The Antipodes. It's got previews until July 13, with the season running through August 12. If you can't make it to that one, the Australian premiere of Abi Morgan's Lovesong kicks off on August 21.

Danielle Walker: Bush Rat Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2018 photo supplied
Photograph: Supplied

6. Get some free laughs at a comedy night

There are regular comedy nights running all year round in Melbourne (no, the laughs don't stop when the Comedy Festival finishes in autumn). Two of our favourite free nights are Lido Comedy, at Hawthorn's Lido Cinema every Tuesday, and Club Voltaire Comedy, in North Melbourne on Sundays. Both attract a mix of rising stars and established talents and are totally free, leaving you more money to spend on snacks and drinks.


7. See a double feature at the Astor and save your pennies

St Kilda's historic Astor Theatre is a haven for film buffs, with its program of cult classics, major favourites and the latest new releases. But it's also a great way of seeing more for less with its calendar overflowing with double features – standard prices are $17.50, but they drop down to $14 on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. There's everything from Gremlins/Gremlins 2 (Aug 13) and Batman/Batman Returns (Aug 6) double features to Marx Brothers (Aug 5) and Audrey Hepburn (Aug 12) doubles. And you can see both The Incredibles and The Incredibles 2 back-to-back on July 22 at 2pm for $17.50.

Stiars to cinema at Lido Cinemas
Photograph: Graham Denholm

8. Head to the cinema on a discounted night

If you can get over Mondayitis and head to a movie, you'll save a heap of money at certain cinemas. If you're in the CBD, Kino Cinemas has a Monday special of $8.50 or $9.50, depending on the session time, and Cinema Nova has $7 tickets before 4pm and $10 after. If it takes you until Tuesday to feel like going out again, try Lido Cinemas in Hawthorn, where you'll pay just $8 before 4pm and $10 after. What should you be seeing? Check out our ten must-see movies this winter.

Storm Riders ACMI 2018
Photograph: Supplied

9. Experience this virtual reality film at ACMI for free

Storm Riders is an immersive, 360-degree virtual reality film by VR proponent and former pro skateboarder Shaun Gladwell. At its centre are two young skateboarding Muslim women from London: Chadnee Shah and Farhana Hussain. The film screened at Sydney Film Festival earlier this year, but you can take in a free screening at ACMI until October 28.

Looking for affordable theatre all year round?


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