Wondering what to do in Melbourne in December? We can help. Check out our guide to all the fun things to do in Melbourne, including mega NGV art exhibitions, summer festivals, rooftop cinemas and more. Plus there's plenty of free attractions, art exhibitions, theatre shows, activities for kids to get amongst as well.
Best things to do in Melbourne in December
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.
Spend your Wednesday nights surrounded by food at the Queen Victoria Market's fantastic Summer Night Market. Expect rows and rows of street food stalls and festival bars as well as art, fashion, homewares and general knick-knack merchandise traders – there are 130 stalls to explore in total. Food stalls will be cooking up delicious snacks all night long, with plenty of wine, beer and cocktails also on the menu. New traders for this season include Portuguese tarts from Casa Nata, chilled chocolate drinks and desserts from Mork Chocolate, African barbecue from Tasty Suya, traditional Filipino cuisine from Kuya's Simply Pinoy and Israeli falafel pita pockets from Falafel Arayes. The highlight of the 2019/2020 summer season will be the Palm Springs Bar, a pop-up watering hole filled with giant pink flamingos, desert plants and fruity perfect-for-summer cocktails. The summery fun continues with a full-sized beach volleyball court popping up within the market. You can play a match with your friends (or complete strangers), watch professional players in action or take part in a volleyball tournament or workshop. To kick off the summer season on Wednesday, November 20 the Queen Victoria Night Market is teaming up with Melbourne Music Week. A stack of musicians are taking over the city stage on Queen Street – on the line-up is Zeitgeist Freedom Energy Exchange, Sunnyside, Memphis LK, Loure, Pjienné and Toni Yotzi. Right in the heart of the city, the markets make a great dinner
The famous weekly Fed Square book market shut up shop in 2017, much to the despair of Melbourne's bibliophile community. But the closure was only a temporary one, with the free market now open at Queen Victoria Market every Sunday till December 15. Whether you eat, sleep and breathe books or are just curious, the market has over 5,000 new and second-hand titles to browse from. From sci-fi to non-fiction, the Melbourne Book Market has every genre presented by a revolving cast of veteran Melbourne booksellers. Tweed jackets are encouraged, but not compulsory. There will be around 20 pop-up stalls giving bibliophiles plenty of options to spend all their life savings on, including stalls by the founding members of the book market. After deciding on your next bedtime read take some time to stroll around the market and check off your grocery list with the fresh produce or go into one of the cafés and satiate your hunger. For more information on the next market visit the Queen Victoria Market website or the Melbourne Book Market Facebook page.
Between 1990 and 1999, the number of babies named "Keanu" skyrocketed in the US. It’s no coincidence that these were the crucial ascendant years – beginning with Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure in ’89 and reaching the zenith of A-list Hollywood with the first Matrix movie in ‘99 – of the man, the mystery, the marvel that is, was and ever shall be Keanu Reeves. Whether you fell in love with his stoic, brooding portrayal of Jack Traven in Speed, his stoic, brooding portrayal of Neo in the Matrix trilogy, or perhaps his stoic, brooding portrayal of the anti-hero assassin John Wick, there’s no denying the stoic, brooding appeal of Reeves in whatever role he inhabits. Any Melburnians who are crazy for Keanu can now immerse themselves in an epic celebration of this modern-day matinee idol courtesy of the Lido Cinema in Hawthorn. Every Friday between October 18 and December 13, some of Reeves’ most beloved blockbusters will be getting an airing, including Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, My Own Private Idaho, Point Break, Speed, The Matrix, The Lake House and John Wick. If despotic robot overlords wanted to enslave our bodies by hijacking our minds, well, a Keanu Reeves film fest would be one surefire way to do it. So plug in, sit back, and surrender to the two-month Keanu Reeves-a-thon.
The dreamy, soul-enveloping sound world of German composer Nils Frahm exists in a hinterland between genres. Flows of deeply chilled electro swirl within a wash of harmonies with a distinctly classical vibe. It’s an ancient yet contemporary sound; utterly surprising but somehow inevitable. Perhaps it’s this nebulous, mercurial identity that has charmed so many listeners around the world, attracting music lovers of widely varying tastes, backgrounds and personal outlooks. In addition to being a skilled composer and former piano prodigy, Frahm is a highly accomplished and prolific record producer, with nine studio albums, six EPs, and 20 other recording credits to his name. However, until you’ve attended one of his epic live performances, you haven’t truly heard his music. With an elaborate array of electronic and acoustic instruments, including multiple keyboards played by Frahm himself, it’s a spectacle as scintillating to the eyes as it is to the ears. It’s been just one year since Frahm last visited Australian shores, playing to a packed-out Hamer Hall. Now, he’s returning Down Under with an entirely new sound experience (although in truth, Frahm’s gift for improvisation means every performance is a unique event).If you weren't lucky enough to see his last Australian performance, don’t miss this chance to hear this musical maverick in the flesh.
Now I don’t know about you, but I would personally like to be well-informed when aliens invade earth and claim their place as our overlords. In this regard, the Planetarium at Scienceworks might be able to help. This season, the Planetarium will be offering guests the chance to explore the cosmos with a series of after-hours and adults-only film screenings on the huge planetarium dome. Every Friday night those over 18 can explore everything from black holes to fluorescent coral. You won’t go spacing out with these shows, either, as they’re loaded with amazing visuals and stellar content. Each night features two screenings, one at 7.30pm and the other at 9pm, with films varying from month to month. Some of the films being screened include Europe to the Stars, Chaos and Order, Ticket to the Universe and Capcom GO! Don't miss December's screening of Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon where you'll be able to listen to the entirety of Pink Floyd's seminal 1973 album while colourful, psychedelic visuals are projected over the full dome. Plus the bar will be open if you fancy a drink with your trip into space. Planetarium Nights are on every Friday until December 27.
There are three things you need to make a good day trip: nice weather, delightful drinks and some form of entertainment. Healesville Sanctuary is stepping in to offer up the latter two in its Acoustic Afternoons event, so all you have to do is check the forecast and pick the day. Across the weekends of November 30-December 1, December 7-8, February 15-16, and February 22-23, visitors are invited to roll out a blanket and enjoy live music provided by the likes of Anita George, This Way North and the Tuck Shop Ladies. A pop-up bar is offering local beer, wine, cider and Four Pillars gin cocktails, and you can keep sated with a barbecue and charcuterie featuring local Yarra Valley produce. Once you’ve filled your tummy you’ll have plenty of time to wander the grounds and see the animals, or maybe just relax on the big lawn. There are giant games for kids (we doubt they'll be checking IDs though, so you can have a go too). The afternoons start at noon and run until 4pm. It's complimentary with entry into Healesville Sanctuary, and tickets to get you through the door range from $19 for a child to $37 for an adult.
The most famous burlesque performer in the world, Dita Von Teese, is bringing her corsets and class to Melbourne. Her new tour, Glamonatrix, will continue the genre-dominating path of her last show, The Art of the Teese, with four dazzling burlesque acts. In performances that maintain a healthy level of humor and self-awareness, you’ll see Von Teese pop out of a cake, ride a giant bejewelled lippy across the stage, tame metaphorical felines in a circus-styled act, and resurrect her famed martini glass performance with fresh style. This 1940s-inspired striptease variety show will have a soundtrack by Von Teese herself – yep, she also creates dreamy, ’80s-twinged electro-pop tracks as well as designing costumes, modelling and acting. She’ll be joined by burlesque stars for the tour, including New York gem Dirty Martin and fierce Aussie performer Zelia Rose. And with an aim to highlight the beauty of diversity, the show will feature other performers who are male, female, gender fluid and from varied backgrounds and of all body types. As always, the charismatic crew will be rocking and dropping some splendid frocks. They’ll don and derob outfits by the UK’s Jenny Packham, corset specialist Mister Pearl, French couturier Alexis Mabille, burlesque star Catherine D’Lish and New York’s Brooks Brothers, plus Louboutins to make their toes sparkle. Melbourne audiences can celebrate sexuality with Dita Von Teese and her glamorous gang at two performances on November 30 and December 1
Coburg Night Market gets better every year and it's little wonder, considering that it was founded by the team behind the Queen Victoria Night Market in 2010. The annual market is bringing more than 50 food and artisan stalls, as well as live music to Bridges Reserve. Previously the market was held weekly in the lead up to Christmas, but this year, the market will return for four consecutive days from Thursday, November 28 until Sunday, December 1. Melbourne’s diverse community is truly on show with the versatile dishes served up by the street food vendors. Run by Moreland City Council, food vendors will be dishing up delicious street food from Greece, Italy, Turkey, Malaysia, South America, Mexico, Spain, Thailand, Japan and more. There will be plenty of desserts, vegan, vegetarian and halal-friendly options available, too. The music line-up over the four days includes Teenage Dads, Tekwani, Fulton Street, the Mamas, Tess Guthrie, Dianas, Sannia, Francesca Gonzalez and heaps more. The market will take place right before Christmas, giving shoppers a great chance to pick up some artisanal gifts too. It's free to attend and great for all ages.
Christmas is fast approaching, so naturally we’ll be pushing the tables back and getting ready to dance at another festive Paul Kelly gig. He’s the kind of poet Australians from all walks of life can relate to, spinning yarns about family, love, tragedy and 747s, and he’ll bring all this and more to the Sidney Myer Music Bowl on Thursday, December 12 for his Making Gravy tour. He’ll be bringing a troupe of young Aussie and New Zealand artists to sing along with classics like ‘To Her Door’ and to share their own hits too. The queen of jangly guitars and smooth melodies, Courtney Barnett, will be adding her own Aussie twang to Kelly’s concert, alongside our Eurovision rep Kate Miller-Heidke – we cannot confirm or deny if the sky high ‘Zero Gravity’ theatrics will come into play. Rounding out the line-up is New Zealand singer-songwriter Marlon Williams, pumping out heart wrenching hits like ‘Beautiful Dress’ and ‘What’s Chasing You’. Previous Making Gravy concerts have sold out, with 12,000 fans belting out the show’s namesake and other Kelly classics like ‘Before Too Long’ and ‘Deeper Water’ from the lawn (cue gentle weeping). But we’re expecting more than just the golden oldies for this stellar performance. Kelly brought out ARIA Chart topper Life is Fine 2017, then made it to number one again in 2018 with Nature, and he’s got more on the way with upcoming album Songs From the South (1985 - 2019). This will be an anthology of his hits from that 35-year period, with clas
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