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Moulin Rouge musical 2019 supplied image
Photograph: Matthew Murphy

11 exciting things coming to Melbourne in 2021

The year’s looking up: here are a few things to look forward to in 2021

Rebecca Russo
Written by
Rebecca Russo

When we sat down to write this story, we looked back on a similar story we ran this time last year. The majority of the nine exciting things we mentioned were sadly postponed or cancelled altogether thanks to you-know-what. So it’s inevitable that we’re a little cautious to write exactly the same story rambling about all the cool exhibitions, live shows, venues and more opening in Melbourne when the world is in such a weird place. But we’re nothing if not optimists here at Time Out. Even if events get postponed, we like to think of it not as "goodbye" but as "see you later". So here goes: these are 11 things to look forward to in 2021 (or maybe even in 2022). 


One of the most painful cancellations of 2020 had to be the much anticipated Rising festival – the massive new winter festival that will merge White Night with Melbourne Festival. While organisers are still grappling with the idea of running a city-wide festival that’s both safe and enticing for the general public, we’re still so excited to see what the festival will serve up when it lands. Rising is expected to run from May 26 to June 6, 2021. More info here

Moulin Rouge! the Musical

Sydney might have Hamilton, but we still have the mighty film-to-stage adaptation of Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge. The production will debut at the Regent Theatre this year following a run on Broadway in New York City. The stage version is closely based on the film and features (almost) all of the songs you know and love, including 'Lady Marmalade', 'Come What May', 'Your Song' and a whole new version of the 'Elephant Love Medley'. There are also a whole bunch of songs in there that were released in the years following the film's 2001 release date (for example, Katy Perry's 'Firework' is in place of 'One Day I'll Fly Away'). The musical is expected to arrive sometime in August – stay tuned for the exact dates and read more here.

The Lume

The Lume will be a cutting-edge digital gallery hidden within the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. We amped this one up a bit early last year when it was supposed to come to Melbourne first in 2020. However, it ended up detouring up to Sydney before finally settling down here in autumn 2021. The exhibition to see first is all about famed post-impressionist artist Vincent Van Gogh. Not only will you be able to see some of his best-known works, like ‘The Starry Night’, but you’ll be able to feel like you’ve stepped into the paintings themselves with projections, scents and sounds all around. The Lume opens in autumn 2021. More here.

Three people standing and looking around in awe at 'The Starry Night' projected on the walls
Photograph: Supplied / Flourish PR

Farmer’s Daughters

It was announced way back in 2019 that Pastuso head chef Alejandro Saravia would be launching new farm-to-table restaurant Farmer’s Daughters in the whopper new 80 Collins Street premises. Now, we have an opening date set – January 28. The restaurant will source all of its produce from Gippsland, a region Saravia fell in love with years ago and now champions at every opportunity. Farmer's Daughters will span three levels, with the ground floor serving deli goods, the second level the formal offering and the rooftop level serving up house-made cocktails and bar snacks. Website here

Triceratops at Melbourne Museum

Melbourne Museum will soon be adding to its already impressive collection of natural history objects with the news that it has acquired a nearly complete 67-million-year-old triceratops skeleton. This particular skeleton – which weighs more than 1,000 kilograms – is one of the most complete and best-preserved dino fossils ever found. Museums Victoria’s senior curator of palaeontology, Dr Erich Fitzgerald, says the quality of this triceratops makes it one of the most significant and informative dinosaur fossils ever found. You’ll be able to see the triceratops in the ... well, bones when it joins the Melbourne Museum collection in 2021. More here.


Another casualty of 2020 was Lightscape, a month-long after-dark light and sound experience at the Royal Botanic Gardens. No matter, it’s now been scheduled for its debut in winter 2021 and we can expect large-scale installations in every corner of the gardens. There’s lit-up walkways, sparkling trees, lights floating on the Ornamental Lake, glowing archways and a field of colour and light. Winter 2021 is all the info we have, but head here for more. 


One that landed on last year’s list but was inevitably postponed to 2021 is the new permanent food precinct in Melbourne’s west, Grazeland. Set over 10,000 square metres in Spotswood, next door to Scienceworks, this new culinary hub will have more than 50 food vendors, three bars and artisan stalls, as well as live performances. If you’ve driven past recently you’ll know they’re very close to opening, but still no set date set yet. Expect it in early 2021. More here.

Render of proposed Grazeland precinct
Photograph: SuppliedRender of proposed Grazeland precinct


Pencil in February for the Jewish Museum of Australia’s largest-ever Mirka Mora retrospective, Mirka. It’s hard to fully comprehend the impact that artist Mirka Mora had on Melbourne. The French-born artist emigrated to Melbourne in 1951 following the Holocaust and quickly set about ingraining herself and her playful art within the city’s growing bohemian scene. There have been many exhibitions on Mora, but none quite like this. The museum will be turned into an “immersive Mirka-world” for the exhibition, which will feature never-before-exhibited works from the Mora family and Mirka’s studio archives. More info here.

ACMI reopening

In April 2019, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (known to you and I as ACMI) closed its doors for a mega $40 million redevelopment. The plan was to reopen in mid-2020, but like many things planned for 2020, it didn’t go as planned. Thankfully, the ACMI team has updated us on the progress with more info on what to expect when this ever-popular attraction reopens. The new ACMI is being heralded as one of  “the most innovative and digitally transformed museums in the world”. This is thanks in most part to a new “experience operating system” which is expected to allow visitors to engage with the museum in new ways. ACMI reopens on February 11. More here.

A host of musical productions...

Melbourne’s stages have been empty for far too long so we’re pumped to see these upcoming productions and support our talented performers. First, there’s one-night-only Chess the Musical, the movie-to-stage adaptation of The Wedding Singer, a parody musical of the world’s favourite sitcom Friends, and lest we forget the powerhouse Magic Mike Live tent sneaking onto Birrarung Marr in July. Get ready folks.  

Australian Open

Melbourne’s biggest sporting event is returning for 2021 in February. It’s not going to look like it used to, but it’s still something to look forward to – especially if we still get to watch tennis superstars battle it out in 30-degree temperatures. To ensure everyone's safety, the entire Melbourne Park precinct will be divided into three zones – one for each of the three major arenas, Rod Laver Arena, Margaret Court Arena and John Cain Arena. Each zone has its own separate food and drinks zone and its own live experience line-up. It all kicks off on February 8. Read more and grab tickets here.

Looking for more to do this month? Here are Melbourne's best January events.

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