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Moulin Rouge musical 2019 supplied image
Photograph: Matthew Murphy

Things to do in Melbourne in August

August's best events in one place – it's your social emergency saviour for fun things to do in Melbourne in August

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Wondering what to do in Melbourne in August? We can help. The last couple of months have been a little up and down because of lockdowns but here's hoping August can deliver on fun and experiences to make up for it. This month we're welcoming Moulin Rouge the Musical to Melbourne's Regent Theatre, plus the continuation of the NGV's stunning French Impressionism exhibition. There's also a winter festival over in Apollo Bay and plenty of cool things happening as part of Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. For more ideas, check out this guide below. 

Keen to make the most of winter? Try these hot chocolates, mulled wine or head out on these great winter getaways

The best things to do in August

  • Art
  • Digital and interactive
  • Melbourne

Update 14/09/2021: Both the Melbourne and Cranbourne botanic gardens are currently open to residents within 5km for exercise. Please check-in on arrival and obey all current restrictions. The world's most ambitious augmented reality art exhibition will open at Melbourne's two Royal Botanic Gardens in September 2021.  Seeing the Invisible is an alfresco art exhibition showcasing works by some of the world's top contemporary artists, including Ai Weiwei, Refik Anadol (who you might remember did the massive quantum computer work, 'Quantum Memories', for the 2020 NGV Triennial), El Anatsui, Isaac Julien, Mohammed Kazem, Sigalit Landau, Sarah Meyohas, Pamela Rosenkranz and Timur Si-Qin. From September 2021 until August 2022, visitors to the Botanic Gardens can explore Seeing the Invisible for free, viewing the artworks via an app available on smartphones and tablets. When you visit Seeing the Invisible you'll also be taking part in an exhibition that's happening simultaneously around the world in 12 different locations. Melbourne's Botanic Gardens are the only Australian location taking part, with other venues including the Eden Project in Cornwall, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in Cape Town, the Royal Botanical Gardens in Ontario, and the San Diego Botanic Garden.  Seeing the Invisible is on at both the Melbourne and Cranbourne botanic gardens from September 2021 until August 2022 (the exact dates will be announced soon).

Disney: The Magic of Animation
  • Art
  • Drawings
  • Melbourne

After a massive renovation, ACMI is ready to host big winter masterpieces exhibitions again. And our national museum of screen culture isn’t holding back, announcing a huge 90-year showcase of Disney animation with a glimpse behind the scenes at Walt Disney Animation Studios, one of the world’s most prolific animation studios.  Now open, the exhibition features over 500 original artworks that date from the 1920s to the present day, including sketches and concept art from Mickey Mouse in Steamboat Willie to new release Raya and the Last Dragon. Every piece exhibited has been specially selected by the Disney Animation Research Library (which, crazily, has around 65 million pieces of art from the Disney headquarters). It’s safe to say those early Mickey and Minnie cartoons look a hell of a lot different to what we watch today. This exhibition shines a spotlight on Disney’s pioneering artistry and technical innovation, as well as the filmmakers and storytellers that have worked with Disney over the years.  Disney: The Magic of Animation is on at ACMI until October. Child tickets are $17, concession tickets are $22.50 and adult tickets are $26. 

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  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • price 3 of 4
  • Melbourne

Update 02/08/21: Melbourne performances of Frozen the Musical have been cancelled until Aug 8 following Victoria's fifth lockdown. Ticket holders will be contacted. Let’s start with the most important thing. Yes, Jemma Rix sings Elsa’s mega-hit song ‘Let It Go’ as the barnstorming closer to act one of this musical staged version of Disney’s Frozen. And yes, she absolutely goddamn nails it.  The story, as any seven-year-old could tell you, is this: Princess Elsa was born with the ability to create snow and ice from her fingertips, but after accidentally wounding her sister and best friend, Anna, she is convinced to hide her powers beneath thick gloves and a frosty veneer of detachment. That strategy is bad for sororal bonding but good for the safety of the kingdom, until the demands of a glove-free and highly emotive coronation day release a literal and metaphorical storm. Details get somewhat hazy after that, with various characters going up and down the mountain that overlooks the sisters’ home of Arendelle, but there’s a talking snowman, an affable reindeer and various degrees of cold and winter clothing involved. The animated version of the story is focused on Elsa, whose platinum fishtail braid adorns lunchboxes the world over. But the stage version is much more centred on Anna, a kindhearted goofball played with true joy and charm by Courtney Monsma. Her singing is more than up to the task of Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez’s music, with a voice that’s Broadway-r

Maree Clarke: Ancestral Memories
  • Art
  • price 0 of 4
  • Melbourne

Now showing at the NGV's Ian Potter Centre is Maree Clarke: Ancestral Memories, the first major retrospective of Melbourne-based Yorta Yorta/Wamba Wamba/Mutti Mutti/Boonwurrung artist and designer Maree Clarke. The exhibition, which is currently on until October 3, shows more than three decades worth of work from Clarke that spans photography, printmaking, sculpture, jewellery, video and more. Clarke is the first living artist to exhibit at the NGV to have ancestral connections to the land the gallery is built on, and the artist is seen as something of a leader in the reclamation of Aboriginal art and cultural practices in the south-east of Australia. Much of Clarke's practice is about this reclamation and affirmation of this heritage, as imagined through contemporary art. A stunning example of this is 'Ancestral Memory I & II', large eel traps blown from glass and suspended like solid water from the ceiling. Another key work in the exhibition is a 60-pelt possum skin cloak specially commissioned by the NGV for the exhibition. Along with other First Nations artists Vicki Couzens, Lee Darroch and Treahna Hamm, Clarke has worked to revive this traditional skill, and their cloaks are the first to be made in Victoria for more than 150 years. Guests will also be able to view Clarke's striking photography series 'Ritual and Ceremony', which saw her photograph prominent Aboriginal community figures such as Uncle Jack Charles and Caroline Martin. Entry to Maree Clarke: Ancestral Memo

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  • Art
  • Photography
  • Ballarat

One of Victoria's biggest goldfields towns becomes a hub of art this spring as the Ballarat International Foto Biennale returns.  We can't stress how big of a deal this is: the biennale features 260 artists who will take over 100 venues during town-wide exhibition. There will also be 25 Australian exclusive exhibitions running as part of the biennale, as well as a world premiere. While Melburnians will have to wait a little longer to visit, the biennale will open to regional Victorians (except those from Shepp) from September 15. The good news is that the festival has been extended until January (it was originally due to end in October) so there should hopefully be plenty of chances for everyone to visit. The event has a habit of turning Ballarat itself into a canvas and 2021 is no different. In addition to exhibitions at venues, BIFB also features public art, projections across the city, talk, foto walks and food and drink experiences that run alongside the program.  And what a program it is. Highlights for this year include: Linda McCartney: RetrospectiveCurated by Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney, Linda McCartney: Retrospective features more than 200 photographs and gives a glimpse into the 1960s music industry alongside intimate photographs of the McCartney family and the photographer's time in Australia. Steven Arnold: Notes from a Queer MysticArtist, queer revolutionary and Salvador Dali protégée Steven Arnold took photographs that merged camp, glamour and celebrity cult

  • Art
  • Installation
  • Melbourne

Update 28/07/21: A Miracle Constantly Repeated reopens July 29 following Victoria's fifth lockdown. The exhibition has been extended and will now run until January 16 2022. Tickets for September onwards can be purchased from 10am, July 30. Everyone in Melbourne has heard of the mysterious Flinders Street Station Ballroom, but few have seen it. The once grand hall has hosted lectures, a library, fitness classes and (of course) dances, but has been closed to the public since 1985. But it's coming back to life for Rising festival, with leading contemporary artist and Melbourne local Patricia Piccinini turning the near-mythic space into an immersive, hyperreal installation. A Miracle Constantly Repeated has Piccinini transform the enigmatic ballroom into an uncanny art ecosystem filled with large-scale dioramas, huge foliage, sentient saplings and nurturing marine mammals. Those familiar with the artist's work will know what to expect, but for those who aren't, you'll meet some unusual creatures that blur the lines between human and beast.  Piccinini is one of Australia's foremost artists, with a knack for hyperrealistic sculptures that are contemporaneously unsettling and also inviting, with their innate sense of empathy. The work is expected to complement the magnificent existing architecture of the ballroom and also offer visitors the chance to explore the adjoining hidden rooms that are rarely seen.    A Miracle Constantly Repeated was such a hot ticket exhibition that its or

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  • Art
  • Paintings
  • Southbank

Update 27/07/2021: The NGV reopens Wednesday, July 28 following Victoria's fifth lockdown.  French Impressionism is host to arguably some of the most famous (and most loved) artists of all time. Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Van Gogh and Degas are just some of the artists who achieved such acclaim that they remain household names even a century after their deaths. This winter you can see some of the artist's most beautiful and well-known works at the NGV's new Winter Masterpieces exhibition, French Impressionism: From the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. From June 25 to October 3, the NGV will host more than 100 French Impressionist works by artists like Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edouard Manet, Camille Pissarro, Edgar Degas, Paul Cézanne and Mary Cassatt. The exhibition is running in partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, which is well regarded for its collection of French Impressionist masterpieces. The collection of 100-plus works coming to Melbourne includes 79 paintings that have never been seen before in Australia, including 16 canvases from Monet that will be presented in a way that replicates the oval gallery that the artist helped design at the Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris. Senior Curator of International Exhibition Projects, Dr Miranda Wallace, says "The NGV’s exhibition of French Impressionism will contain many extraordinary and celebrated paintings, such as Renoir’s 'Dance at Bougival' and Monet’s superlative 1905 canvas 'Water Lilies',

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child review
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • price 3 of 4
  • Melbourne

The first rule of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is that you don’t talk about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Safeguarding spoilers is an expected responsibility for anyone who attends the Potter-verse’s first on-stage outing. There’s even a hashtag: #KeepTheSecrets. But in truth (as far as theatre critique is concerned, at least), JK Rowling needn’t have worried. This marathon, five-hour spectacle has a plot so dense and sprawling, so wonderfully, unashamedly elaborate, it would take many thousands of words more than any theatre review to even scratch the surface. While we may have been sworn to secrecy about Cursed Child’s plot, we can reveal that the hype – and rarely has a piece of theatre ever generated such fever-pitched buzz – is entirely deserved. And not just because of the quality of the production. The masterminds behind the show – led by Rowling, playwright Jack Thorne and director John Tiffany – have not merely set out to put on a play, but rather craft a rich and detailed immersive experience. To this end, Melbourne’s Princess Theatre has undergone a top to bottom $6.5 million makeover, transforming its interiors to match a Hogwartsian, Potterfied aesthetic. If this sounds like an unnecessary extravagance, it’s probably an indication this play isn’t for you. The success of Cursed Child, which has smashed box office records on Broadway and the West End, is powered by its unapologetic exclusivity. Those without any prior knowledge of Harry and co will be baf

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  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours
  • Melbourne

When Melburnians seek a local escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, the Royal Botanical Gardens is often one of the first destinations to come to mind. But it’s likely most of us don’t know much about its history and its first director who made many significant contributions to the gardens: Baron Ferdinand von Mueller.  If it’s within your 5km radius and you’re looking for a new and educational outdoor activity, make your way to the Gardens for a free audio tour narrated by Mueller (voiced by an actor, of course) who has time-travelled into the present-day to visit his former haunt. Mueller, who served a 20-year tenure as the garden’s first director starting in 1857, will speak to you about his joys and fill you in on the drama and frustration of his replacement by William Guilfoyle. He’ll also confront and come to terms with some of his own actions, including his contribution to colonisation, and his introduction of blackberries which became one of Australia’s most pesky invasive plant species. The tour lasts around 50 minutes and takes you on a 1.2km walk around the gardens, so it's a great way to get some exercise and fresh air on your own or with a friend while also learning about one of Melbourne's most popular attractions. You can access the audio tour via your smartphone and headphones, and the audio can be found here. 

  • Things to do
  • Southbank

The NGV's Friday Nights series is back for another round, and this time they’re pairing a string of gigs alongside the highly anticipated exhibition French Impressionism from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Few things go hand-in-hand like music and art, and NGV Friday Nights’ set-up is the best way to take in the latest NGV exhibition after dark while enjoying the best in local music. Performing in the NGV's Great Hall every Friday night from June to early October, this season's line-up will feature the likes of Alice Ivy, Husky, Eilish Gilligan, Ali Barter, Squid Nebula, Akosia, Soloman Sisay and heaps more. See the full line-up on NGV's website. To tie in with the exhibition, each night also features French-inspired food from French vendors – think pommes frites, croque monsieur and duck and cherry parfaits. Drinks are available too, via the Yering Station Wine Bar, the Asahi Bar or the Pommery Champagne Bar for that real taste of France.  NGV Friday Nights runs June 25 to October 1. Tickets are available now. 

Staying in?

  • Things to do

We've collected the best ways for you to experience Melbourne while staying at home here into this hub, so you can stay sane, comfortable, fed, watered and entertained at home – while helping small business owners, hospitality workers and creative people who desperately need your business.

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