Melbourne it's August, meaning you've nearly made it through winter and spring is in sight. This month make sure you check out the heart-warming musical Come From Away (it's based on a true story) and head out to the Yarra Valley to enjoy an OTT hot choc at the Hot Chocolate Festival. Plus there's plenty of free attractions, art exhibitions, theatre shows, activities for kids to get amongst as well.
The best things to do in August
If you've ever wanted to make your own cheese, this is the masterclass for you. Henry and the Fox is offering a series of masterclasses to teach you how to make all kinds of cheese from around the world – and yes, tasting is encouraged. Classes offered include everything from brie to tallegio to peccorino, halloumi and mozzarella, and each class is marked with a level of difficulty. Each class is $89 per person, and they run for three hours. The classes include a glass of chardonnay or pinot noir on arrival, plus a shared cheese board. You'll also get to take home your cheesy creations at the end.
A new batch of tickets to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child are going on sale on Tuesday May 7 at 11am. The tickets are for dates from February 5 to March 22. 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.
It’s pretty common to get caught in the rain while walking around Melbourne. What’s less common is to get caught in the rain while walking around indoors in Melbourne – and even weirder when you realise that the rain is inexplicably falling everywhere except on you. This August Melbourne will be the first city in the southern hemisphere to host ‘Rain Room’, an immersive artwork by London-based collective Random International. ‘Rain Room’ is one of Random International’s most famous works and has previously shown at the Barbican in London, MoMA in New York and at the Yuz Museum in Shanghai. Guests are invited into a darkened room filled with continuous rain. No need to bring an umbrella though because this rain won’t dampen your clothes or spirits. Thanks to motion sensors in the ceiling ‘Rain Room’ detects where visitors are and ensures a dry six-metre radius around guests. The artwork is being brought to Melbourne thanks to a collaboration between the currently closed ACMI and uber-luxe hotel Jackalope. For at least seven weeks (tickets can currently be purchased for dates between August 9 and September 29) you can experience the installation for yourself at the Jackalope Pavillion, a pop-up space on the corner of Acland and Jackson streets in St Kilda. Tickets are available to the public from July 4.
Melbourne institution Bimbo (universally called Bimbo's) is celebrating LGBTQI pride each and every Sunday from 3pm. Queer Deluxe is an all-inclusive day to relax, eat, drink, boogie and celebrate queer culture. There are performers, drag queens, DJs and drink specials, including $20 Bloody Mary, Spritz and Margarita cocktail jugs. Bimbo reopened after a devastating fire in May 2019 and has re-cemented its place in Melbourne's north for good times and great eats. And yes, of course, the pizza is still just $4.
Venetian glass is known across the world for its vibrant colour, elaborate designs and exquisite craftsmanship, honed over centuries by traditional glassblowers on the Venetian island of Murano. In Liquid Light, the National Gallery of Victoria brings together their extensive collection of glass pieces to explore the development of the Venetian glass tradition, from the Golden Age of the 16th century to the postmodern creations of the Memphis Group. Highlights include a Games of Thrones-worthy 17th century goblet, complete with intertwining dragons coiling around the stem, and a contemporary patchwork vase by renowned Murano glass artist Fulvio Bianconi.
Living in the city sure is convenient, but sometimes we all need to trade the concrete jungle for an actual jungle. The Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens are giving you the chance to experience the restorative powers of nature by offering forest therapy (or forest bathing) classes for city stress-heads. Just what is forest therapy? The idea began in Japan, where it’s called ‘shinrin-yoku’ and is said to improve your wellbeing by immersing yourself in nature. It’s since been recognised as an effective (and cheap) way to improve public health. The Royal Botanic Garden’s forest therapy walk includes a guided tour through the gardens designed to lower your blood pressure, pulse and stress levels through a series of activities. The gardens have released three new dates to try forest therapy over winter – book into a session on July 28, August 11 or August 25.
One of Melbourne’s largest and most delicious markets is now running tasting tours. Preston Market has launched Saturday morning food tours that curates some of the tastiest products on offer at this northside food hall. The 2.5-hour tour walks guests through the market, introducing them to traders who will talk them through what they have on offer and how best to use their products in their own kitchens. As well as getting to try organic produce, fresh seafood, deli items and Preston Market’s winning paella, guests on the tour will also get to try more unusual foodie finds like crocodile meat (which we’re informed can be cooked easily on a sandwich press if you want to jazz up your sad office lunch). The Flavourhood tours run roughly twice a month, are $20 per person and include a progressive breakfast, coffee, Preston Market eco bag and a $5 market voucher. Tours are limited to ten people per tour and you can book online to secure your place.
Imagine chocolate desserts of all kinds and colours, from Granny Smith apple, white chocolate and frangipane layer cake to 55% bitter chocolate terrine with raspberry croquant. Picture Belgian milk chocolate and Vittoria coffee éclairs with caramel pearls, miniature dark chocolate and hazelnut tarts with gianduja mousse, white chocolate and passionfruit pops, chocolate cannoli filled with coconut, Malibu gel, white chocolate and berry cream, Bailey’s Irish cream pannacotta with coffee crumbs and chocolate spaghetti, and vanilla and white chocolate mousse. Throw in a chocolate fountain with fruit, marshmallows and cake. Now imagine you can eat as many of these treats as you want. You've just imagined the Langham's Chocolate Bar High Tea. The traditional high tea tiered stand comes loaded with savoury goodies such as cucumber sandwiches (crusts cut off, of course) and mini pies. There's even a truffle macaroni and cheese (with bacon crumbs), and of course, there are warm scones with jam and cream.
On the first Sunday of the month Arts Centre Melbourne host High Tea Live, a traditional high tea with a different live act every month. Performances range from jazz to broadway and it's all paired with a traditional three-tier cake stand of sweet and savoury tea favourites. Make sure you leave room for the scones though – these fluffy, golden nuggets are served still warm from the oven. Held upstairs in the Arts Centre Melbourne's Pavilion function space, High Tea Live is just fancy enough to impress without feeling stuffy. The sparkling wine on arrival is a nice touch, as is the free-flowing tea and coffee that staff will happily top up for you throughout the musical performance. Note that High Tea Live seats guests at eight-person tables. If you're not feeling up to meeting new people then make sure you book in with seven of your friends.
Upcoming drag king and queens get the chance to practise their shows and refine their acts every Thursday night at Melbourne's favourite LGBTQIA+ venue (as voted by Time Out readers), Sircuit. Bio queens, drag queens, trash queens and drag kings all perform, and the event is hosted by famed drag queen Missy La ’Minx. It's a chance for up-and-coming performers to get experience, and for audiences of course it's a night of fantastic drag. The bar offers $5 pints from 7pm until 10pm, and entry is free.
When it comes to comfort foods dumplings are pretty high on the list. The team at Horse Bazaar are taking dumplings to a whole new level of cosy by offering a dumpling and massage combo on Tuesday nights. Every Tuesday night at Horse Bazaar is Dumplings 'N' Massage night where you can get three dumplings and a ten-minute massage for $15 (plus online booking fee). There are six flavours to choose from ranging from Horse Bazaar's classic pork and vegan dumplings to stranger concoctions like fried cheese, Nutella and nuts and the very experimental 'Aussie breakfast' dumpling (that's egg, bacon and Vegemite). Your massage will be delivered by resident masseuses from Soul Aquarian Therapy who will work the knots from your back as you work the dumplings into your mouth. Make the worst day of the week just a little bit better – Dumplings 'N' Massage is on every Tuesday at Horse Bazaar. Bookings are a must and can be made online.
Tokyo Tina is entering Melbourne's overstuffed brunch scene, but it is doing things a little differently. This year they've launched 'bingo academy' – a rather illustrious title for what is essentially a boozy, Japanese-style brunch with some bingo thrown in. Every Sunday the venue runs two bingo brunches complete with Bloody Marys, bottomless Aperol spritzes, bubbly and beer. Feast on Tokyo Tina's sumptuous brunch menu including okonomiyaki, smoked duck bibimbap and Tina's own twist on a brunch favourite, a bacon and egg bao. The bingo itself will be hosted by the giggle-inducing Granny Bingo trio, who will give you a new appreciation of the age-old game. Plus you can win prizes like restaurant vouchers, temporary control of the jukebox and bragging rights. Tokyo Tina's bingo academy is on every Sunday. Tickets are $69 per person.