Wondering when's the best time to visit Melbourne? Well, do you live for the outdoors or are you more of a gallery-hopper? Are music festivals your jam or do you prefer evenings in cosy wine bars? Whatever your travel priorities and passions, Melbourne delivers. The best time to visit our great city depends on your interests – which is why we've put together this season-by-season guide to Melbourne, which includes all the major events throughout the year.
Go in summer if you like: drinking outside, summer swims and the heat. Sure, we’re not as consistently sunny as our northern neighbours in Sydney, but we still get a fair amount of heat in the summer months (on the upside, there are plenty of places to cool off too). This weather lends itself to outdoor activities: music festivals like St Kilda Festival, Zoo Twilights and Laneway Festival are all ripper ways to see big-name musicians in stunning outdoor locations around town. Thousands flock to Melbourne Park for the Australian Open to watch the superstars of tennis battle it out in the fierce summer heat, or there’s the epic Boxing Day Test that descends on the MCG the day after Christmas.
Go in autumn if you like: eating, drinking and laughing out loud. While the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix brings the big guns of racing to town in late March, the celebrated Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) will certainly have you giggling with more than 400 side-splittingly funny shows to choose from across the month-long festival. Autumn is also Melbourne Food and Wine Festival time: this hallmark food festival allows you to wine and dine yourself across the city with culinary playgrounds set up around town. Fashionistas can get amongst the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival, Melbourne’s biggest fashion festival that showcases the best of Australia’s local fashion industry including designers Alice McCall, Dion Lee and Scanlan Theodore. This is also a great time of year to venture to the west coast of Victoria and drive down the Great Ocean Road, a long stretch of road that hugs the coastline and delivers some of the best beach views in the country.
Go in winter if you like: exploring. The weather gets chilly and a little wet come wintertime, but Melbourne is well and truly equipped for a season like this (plus it’s off season for tourists, meaning you’ll find more airfares and hotel rates have fallen). Every winter, the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) put on a major exhibition titled the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces, bringing celebrated and historically significant artists’ work to town for 100 days (past exhibitions have highlighted Vincent Van Gogh, David Bowie, Pablo Picasso and Pixar). In August, the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) takes place, showcasing hundreds of fascinating (and often premiere) films from around the world. Winter is also White Night time: this art party sees the city’s buildings and public spaces taken over by spectacular projection art, mind-bending installations and unexpected experiences. We also suggest spending winter exploring the many hidden secrets this city has to offer: from the 230 different laneways (each brimming with colourful street art) to the many hidden bars you’ll stumble upon. Winter is also a good time to get to know some of Melbourne’s best restaurants, including these must-eat Melbourne dishes.
Go in spring if you like: the great outdoors and mind-blowing art. Every October, the city is taken over by Melbourne Festival, a world-renowned celebration of theatre, dance, visual art, music and events from Australia and all over the world. Similarly, the Melbourne Fringe Festival makes jaws drop and eyes widen with an out-there line-up of comedy, theatre and left-field events. The Royal Melbourne Show is fodder for kids: you can play with baby goats, ride on a magic carpet and load up on show bags during the school holidays. Spring is also a great time to head out of town to Victoria’s wine country, the Yarra Valley. Here you can go on a wine crawl of the best wineries in the region, all the while enjoying the rolling green hills, old farmhouses and swaying vineyards that take over the region. Or if you’d rather stretch your legs, we’ve got plenty of day hikes within driving distance of the city. Finish off your trip with a famous Melbourne past time: eating brunch.