Melbourne winter festivals and events guide

Hibernation? No way! In winter, the city heats up with major festivals and events, making it your go-to destination for an adventure filled with art, food and events
Photograph: Ewen Bell
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There's something about Melbourne in winter. The moody afternoon light filtering through laneways; the warm glow of cosy wine bars; and of course, the plethora of events and festivals that keep the city buzzing. We guarantee you won't find an atmosphere quite as thrilling anywhere else in the country during winter – and whether you're looking for world-class restaurants and bars, blockbuster art and theatre or unique shopping experiences, Melbourne has you covered. Hungry? Check out our checklist of the restaurants to visit during your winter getaway.

Melbourne Winter Masterpieces

Drowning Girl, by Roy Lichtenstein
© Estate of Roy Lichtenstein / Lichtenstein. Licensed by Viscopy, 2018
Art, Galleries

MoMA at NGV: 130 Years of Modern and Contemporary Art

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To put it lightly, this is huge. In June, Melbourne will become the (temporary) home of masterpieces by Salvador Dalí, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Vincent van Gogh, Mark Rothko... the list goes on. They'll be on loan from New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) – which, if you're even mildly interested in 20th and 21st century art, is a gallery that needs no introduction. Many of these works have never been seen in Australia before, and the exhibition will be an Australian exclusive, taking up the entire ground floor of NGV International. Accompanying this once-in-a-lifetime experience will be the return of the NGV's much-loved Friday Nights program, which features live music every week. Your ticket includes after-hours access to the exhibition, and there'll be bars and dining to cap things off.

Image (above):
Roy Lichtenstein
American 1923–97
Drowning girl 1963
Oil and synthetic polymer paint on canvas
171.6 x 169.5 cm
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Philip Johnson Fund (by exchange) and gift of Mr. and Mrs. Bagley Wright, 1971
© Estate of Roy Lichtenstein / Lichtenstein. Licensed by Viscopy, 2018

Museums

Wonderland

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If you have fond memories of falling down the rabbit hole with Alice in the 1951 Disney animation or venturing into Tim Burton’s dark Wonderland in his 2010 live action film, then we’ve got good news: Alice has landed in Melbourne. Wonderland is a highly interactive and immersive journey through Alice's many incarnations in pop culture over the years, from Lewis Carroll's original texts to countless adaptations. The real draw of this groundbreaking exhibition is the experience itself, which features striking design and cutting-edge technology to really bring Alice's world to life. Your Instagram won't know what hit it.

More winter highlights

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Vikings Beyond the Legend at Melbourne Museum
Things to do, Exhibitions

Vikings: Beyond the Legend

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The vikings have dropped anchor at Melbourne Museum. The museum's major new exhibition, Vikings: Beyond the Legend, is the largest collection of viking artefacts ever in Australia, and it's the furthest the norse men have ever traveled from their hearths.  This international blockbuster (nearly two million people have visited the exhibition worldwide) features more than 400 artefacts from one of history’s most fascinating civilisations, as well as 40 replicas (including a huge replica viking longship). Live out your archaeologist dreams and try to excavate a virtual viking ship, or challenge your mates to a viking board game.

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Queen Victoria Summer Night Market
Photograph: Ewen Bell
Things to do

The Night Market at Queen Vic Market

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Lighting installations, open fires, hot cider and food stalls will ignite your winter Wednesday nights. The Night Market is a Melbourne institution, packing out the famous Queen Vic Market every week with locals feasting on smoked meat, mulled wine and hot chocolate. In addition to the food stalls, the market also hosts musicians, roving performers, fortune tellers and lots more surprises.

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MIFF 2016 opening Regent Theatre
Photograph: Tony Zara/Dean Walliss
Film, Film festivals

Melbourne International Film Festival

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A world of great cinema comes to Melbourne every August, when one of the world's oldest most highly regarded film festivals takes over the city. The festival shows off international features, arthouse films, documentaries and shorts. Kids aren't forgotten about either with the festival regularly including family friendly films from across the world. If you're just wanting to go watch that one special film then you can, but movie buffs are better off buying buying a festival pass to be granted entry to all showings.

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Yassmin Abdel-Magied
Photograph: OECD/ Salome Suarez
Things to do, Fairs and festivals

Melbourne Writers Festival

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Melbourne's largest literary festival brings together fascinating talks and discussions by authors from all over the world. Readers and writers from all walks of life are welcome at the festival with a program of events to suit the casual Saturday afternoon reader to full-time word nerds. Better still around a quarter of all festival events are free (that means more money to buy books).

Where to eat while you're in town

The Gasometer
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Restaurants

5 ways to make the most of winter dining in Melbourne

Melbourne and winter dining are made for each other. What this city lacks in oceanfront eateries and year-long sunny courtyards it more than makes up for with world-class chefs, unparalled diversity of cuisines and award-winning design. To make your Melbourne getaway as delicious as possible, make sure you take note of some of our top picks for winter dining, from the hottest new restaurants to the cosiest wine bars and the hidden gems you must visit.

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