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Things to do in Melbourne in February

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

The Classics Stonnington Opera, Broadway and Symphony shows
Photograph: Supplied

Wondering what to do in Melbourne in February? We can help. Check out our guide to all the fun things to do in Melbourne, including mega NGV art exhibitions, summer music festivals, rooftop cinemas and more. Plus there's plenty of free attractionsart exhibitionstheatre showsactivities for kids to get amongst as well. 

Too hot to trot? Here are the best ways to beat the heat in Melbourne. Plus, it's Melbourne, so there's a chance it will rain. If so, consult our guide to Melbourne's best indoor activities instead.

Best things to do in Melbourne in February

Installation view of Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossi
Art, Paintings

Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines

NGV International, Southbank

After the success of a joint exhibition of work by Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei in 2016, the NGV is bringing together another pair of art legends for its 2019/20 summer blockbuster. Who doesn't love a two-for-one deal? Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat's careers burned bright and fast in the 1980s, rocking the New York art establishment. Both are known for the huge impression they made with their street art, and both died young: Basquiat from a heroin overdose in 1988 at just 27, and Haring from an AIDS-related illness in 1990 at 31. The exhibition features more than 300 of their works presented side-by-side, ranging from paintings to sculptures and, of course, public works. Both artists made work with strong social and political messages, particularly about racism and the AIDS crisis, and each had his own distinctive visual style, which will be central to this exhibition. Expect to see plenty of Haring's dancing figures (which Melburnians should be familiar with given that they feature in a mural he painted in Collingwood in 1984) and Basquiat's crown and head motif.  In fact, one of the key works in the exhibition is Basquiat's 'Untitled (1982)', which features a distressing but brightly colourful image of a black skull. The painting sold for $110 million in 2017, making it the most expensive American painting ever. The exhibition features Basquiat and Haring's collaborations with each other, as well as work with Andy Warhol, Grace Jones and Madonna. It's all being pu

Billy Elliot the Musical 2019 supplied image Sydney Lyric
Photograph: Alastair Muir
Theatre, Musicals

Billy Elliot the Musical

It's time to don your ballet shoes and practice your plié – Billy Elliot the Musical is on its way back to Australian shores for a tenth anniversary tour. The British musical blockbuster is opening at the Sydney Lyric in October, with four freakishly talented youngsters sharing the title role: Omar Abiad (12, from Brisbane), River Mardesic (10, from Melbourne), Wade Neilsen (12, from Newcastle) and Jamie Rogers (12, from Canberra). They're joined by Australian musical theatre stalwart Kelley Abbey as the tough-as-nails ballet teacher Mrs Wilkinson, and Justin Smith as Billy's father. The musical is set against the background of the 1984/85 UK coal miners' strike and tells the story of Billy, a miner's son who dreams of becoming a professional ballet dancer. Lee Hall, who wrote the popular 2000 film upon which the musical is based, adapted the story for the stage with musical superstar Elton John, who penned the score. Elton John said: "Billy Elliot for me is one of the most rewarding and creative works of my career. I have very fond memories of the Sydney production in 2007 as it was the first city outside of the UK we mounted the show and found many incredibly talented children who would go on to carry the show through its successful Australian run." After opening on London's West End in 2005 – where it scored a five-star review from Time Out London – the show had its Australian premiere in 2007, winning a record-equalling seven Helpmann Awards including Best Musical.

Person playing bowls at Summertime Social
Things to do, Pop-up locations

Summertime Social

From January 3, Fed Square’s Skyline Terrace is hosting the Summertime Social – an outdoor pop-up featuring a large communal lawn, bookable caravans and plenty of summer-appropriate food and drink.  On the rooftop lawn you can have fun with giant games (yes, there will be Jenga) or relax with live music on Sunday afternoons. For a more chilled out group outing, there will be decked out huts and luxe converted caravans to sprawl out in. The caravan booking even comes with food (like ploughman’s platters, pies and potato salad) included. Now to the important information – the drinks. Summertime Social has three cocktails on tap (Aperol Spritz, Passionfruit Caprioska and Miami Iced Tea) all of which are $6 between 4-6pm weekdays. On really hot days you can get around a frozen Margarita, Mango Daiquiri or simply order an Esky containing your choice or four cans of beer or wine. Kids are welcome too, with a dedicated children's menu, family picnic baskets and peanut butter and jelly ice cream sandwiches (those over 18 can also partake in boozy ice cream flavours). Additionally, on weekends, Summertime Social offers bottomless brunches. The square’s rooftop has been getting a work out lately. During winter 2019 it hosted the Winter Village pop-up featuring igloos, mulled wine and even snow. Summertime Social is being run by the same team behind the Winter Village (that is, behemoth hospo group Australian Venue Co) so you can expect a similar level of fun, sans snow. Summertime

Shrek the Musical 2019 supplied image
Photograph: Helen Maybanks
Theatre, Musicals

Shrek the Musical

Here's an ogre-sized announcement: Broadway's musical version of the much-loved 2001 Dreamworks movie Shrek is coming to Melbourne's Her Majesty's Theatre from February 2020. The musical premiered on Broadway in 2008, where it was nominated for eight Tony Awards and ran for more than a year, during which time it was filmed for DVD and Blu-ray release. It then opened in London in 2011, where it ran for nearly two years.  It's very much the ogre-meets-princess story you know and love from the original film. We regret to inform you that the stage version doesn't open with Smash Mouth's 'All Star', but it does end with 'I'm a Believer', and features a stellar bunch of other songs by Broadway heavyweight Jeanine Tesori. Ben Mingay will be greening up for the title role and will be joined by Lucy Durack as Princess Fiona, Todd McKenney as Lord Farquaad and Marcia Hines as the dragon.

KAWS NGV 2019 supplied
Photograph: Tom Ross

KAWS: Companionship in the Age of Loneliness

NGV International, Southbank

Even if you don't know his name, you're almost certainly familiar with Brian Donnelly's (aka KAWS) larger-than-life sculptures and paintings. Kaws take icons from cartoons and pop culture and reimagines them in vulnerable and unexpected situations. His signature? Their hands are marked with sharp crosses. For several decades, KAWS has been one of the world's most prolific contemporary artists and his work is equally in demand with major modern art galleries as it is with brands and pop artists. He's collaborated with MTV (and redesigned their Moonman in his signature style), Nike and Uniqlo, designed album covers for Kanye West and Towa Tei, and crashed New York's Museum of Modern Art's website when they sold a limited edition KAWS action figure. This new exhibition at the NGV (which is running at the same time as the gallery's Basquiat and Haring blockbuster) features paintings, sculptures, graphic design and product design, covering the full spectrum of his creative output. Central to the exhibition is a monumental sculpture, which is his largest work in bronze so far. And which characters should you expect to see? Well, definitely his take on Mickey Mouse, probably The Simpsons (or 'Kimpsons' in the world of KAWS) and maybe even Spongebob. Bringing your youngsters to the exhibition? Check out KAWS: Playtime, a brilliant interactive experience designed just for children.

Animalia in sand by Graeme Base
Things to do

Animalia in Sand

Boneo Discovery Park, Fingal

Many children in Australia learnt their ABCs with a little help from Animalia. The elaborately illustrated picture book by Graeme Base takes readers on an alliterate, zoological journey through the alphabet, from aardvarks to zebras.  Now you can see the pages from Animalia brought to life in sand. Sand Sculpting Australia has taken inspiration from the beloved kids book and turned all 26 pages from the animal alphabet into massive sand sculptures.  This is the first time that Animalia has been recreated in sand, with 15 sand sculptors from around the world using more than 3,500 tonnes of sand to create the works. The sandy sculptures also feature an augmented reality component. Using an app, guests can discover hidden stories about each creature, by scanning the accompanying sign.  Animalia in Sand is on now until the end of April at Boneo Discovery Park on the Mornington Peninsula. In addition to the exhibition, the park also has pedal boats, adventure activities, workshops and ten hectares of wetlands and nature trails to explore.

Black Star Pastry's strawberry watermelon cake on a table
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do, Food and drink

Black Star Pastry pop-up

Jackalope Pavilion, St Kilda

Thanks to the fine folk of the JKLP Group who has brought us Jackalope Hotel and the Rain Room (which has been extended for another season), Sydney's insta-famous Black Star Pastry is popping up underneath the Rain Room from November 25 until Easter. This means you can grab a slice of Sydney's famous watermelon cake and eat it, too. For the uninitiated, the watermelon cake is a gluten-free layered cake made with almond dacquoise, rose-scented cream and watermelon, topped with strawberries, pistachios and dried rose petals. It's caused Sydney to line up for it and queue around the block, but luckily, we'll be able to preorder our slices for an express pick-up.  It's not just the watermelon cake that will be available, Black Star will be bringing us its raspberry-lychee cake (raspberry marshmallow and vanilla cream built on a rich, chocolate biscuit base), pistachio-lemon zen cake (pistachio ganache, white chocolate mousse, lemon curd and pistachio dacquoise) which is also gluten-free, and when it is Easter, its hot cross buns. Gearing up for a special occasion? Pre-orders vary in sizes and go up to four-tier wedding cakes. Are you picking up what we're putting down? Coffee from St Ali will also be available for those who want the full coffee-and-cake experience.

The Westin High Seas 2020
Things to do, Food and drink

High Seas

The Westin Melbourne, Melbourne

We in Melbourne love our high tea. We've had all-cheese high tea, all-chocolate high tea, and even a monochromatic high tea. Now the Westin is bringing back its nautical twist on the concept with an all-seafood high tea. For 2020, the Westin is pairing up with Healesville gin brand Four Pillars for a gin-inspired menu. Savoury treats include oysters with Four Pillars Rare Dry gin and red snapper dressing, Port Phillip Bay scallops with Four Pillars orange and mustard glaze, Balmain bug sandwiches, yabby sesame toast, as well as Humpty Doo barramundi scotch eggs with lemon myrtle aioli. To top it all off there's even a gin botanicals ice cream sandwich for dessert.  Skip the sparkling wine and do as sailors do with a gin cocktail. There's the Wave Racer (Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin, sour rhubarb, orange, bay leaf and fizz), the Downbound (Four Pillars Navy Strength Gin, fino, bergamot and finger lime) and a classic gin and tonic with Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin, Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic Water and orange.  It's $89 per person to take part in this special high tea. High Seas runs Monday to Sunday from 5.30pm at the Allegro Restaurant, and Saturday and Sunday from 11am until 4pm in the Lobby Lounge. The tide will roll out on March 31, so make sure you hit the deck before then. 

Canvas bell tent with entrance open, showing interior of tent
Photograph: Ferne Millen
Things to do, Pop-up locations

Glamping at Terindah Estate

Terindah Estate, Portarlington

If you’ve visited the cellar door or restaurant at Terindah Estate, you’ll be well acquainted with its exquisite views of Port Phillip Bay. Now you can experience those soul-soothing waterfront views in a whole new light – literally – with the vineyard opening up one of its back paddocks for glamping. Barely five minutes' walk from the carpark are 15 canvas bell tents bookable every night of the week from the first of November until early May. The tents embrace the aesthetic of glamping – inside it’s all comfy soft furnishings, jute rugs and macramé ornaments. Most people will find themselves able to stand inside the tent, which, for tall people, is a bigger luxury than expensive sheets. Photograph: Ferne Millen What really makes glamping at Terindah special is the location. The tents are pitched in a straw-coloured moor, giving you the feeling like you’re roughing it in an Australian adaptation of Wuthering Heights. Once you are set up, follow the dirt track towards the ocean and then turn left when you reach the cliff edge – eventually you’ll find yourself on a tranquil private beach with calm, shallow waters perfect for a dip. We recommend packing your own dinner (be aware no camp stoves or open flames are allowed) or having dinner at Terindah’s restaurant the Shed (which is open for dinner on Saturdays). The Bellarine also boasts a stack of dining options like Merne or the Queenscliff Brewhouse. For an easy breakfast, pre-order a $50 brekkie hamper from Terindah,

Yarra River at Arbory Afloat
Bars, Cocktail bars

Arbory Afloat

Arbory Bar and Eatery, Melbourne

Oh buoy! The team behind massive outdoor eatery and beer garden Arbory Bar and Eatery have brought back their famed floating bar and restaurant Arbory Afloat for the 2019/20 season. The giant floating pontoon has once again moored itself alongside Arbory’s permanent fixture beside platform 13 of Flinders Street Station. This year the bar is taking inspiration from Miami in the 1970s, with a pastel blue and pink colour palette and palm trees aplenty. The upper deck has been extended so there will be plenty of room to kick back, grab a drink and celebrate in your own private cabana.  Probably the most exciting part is the introduction of Arbory Afloat's own pool, which is located on the upper deck level. Don't forget your bathers!  As well as boasting 360-degree views of the Yarra River and the CBD skyline, Arbory Afloat has an extensive cocktail list (think fruit-driven cocktails served over ice for those hotter-than-hot days) and a Mediterranean-inspired wine list. Hungry? You can dig into American-inspired wood-fired pizzas like the New Jersey pepperoni, the cheesy Chicago and the Boss, with provolone, pork sausage and barbecue sauce. There are also Miami-inspired sandwiches and a seafood bar with oysters, ceviche, kingfish tiradito and build-it-yourself fish tacos. For the second year running the live entertainment aboard Arbory Afloat has been curated by Sky Lab and will feature some of the country's buzziest DJs, who will be soundtracking your balmy evenings all t

Installation view of 'Collecting Comme'
Art, Design

Collecting Comme

NGV International, Southbank

The National Gallery of Victoria has always been quite forward-thinking in its integration of design and fashion into its exhibition program, but it also has a hugely impressive collection of design, including a heap of pieces from Japanese label Comme des Garçons. The label is led by founder and designer Rei Kawakubo, who has been creating innovative fashion since the 1970s, and is continuing on that journey today. The NGV collection includes key pieces by Kawakubo, which are being shown in this free exhibition. They've been donated by Takamasa Takahashi since 2005, and together show how Kawakubo's designs challenged tradition to create a new fashion vocabulary. The pieces range from 1981, when Kawakubo first showed work in Paris, to recent designs from the 2014 'Blood and Roses' collection.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Theatre, Drama

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

4 out of 5 stars

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 b

Woman arranging vegetable stall
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do, Walks and tours

Preston Market Flavourhood tours

Preston Market, Preston

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 $30 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.

Classic Cinemas
Photograph: Supplied
Film, Outdoor cinema

Classic Rooftop Cinema

Classic Cinemas, Elsternwick

Classic Cinemas holds the claim to fame as is the longest continuously operating cinema in Victoria. It boasts ten indoor screens and, in addition, has announced the new Classic Rooftop, with nightly 9pm screenings all through summer 2019-2020 and into autumn.  The rooftop cinema has comfortable director's chair seating on staggered levels, while sound is delivered through headsets. Melbourne loves a rooftop bar, and the Classic Rooftop naturally has one too. The inaugural season kicks off with as big a bang as you could wish for with a week of screenings of the climactic Star Wars flick, The Rise of Skywalker.  New releases that follow include camp classic in waiting, Cats, Greta Gerwig's new version of Little Women, Guy Ritchie's new gangster flick The Gentlemen, and a one-off session of Leonard Cohen documentary Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love.  Justin Kurzel's adaptation of Peter Carey's novel True History of the Kelly Gang screens on Friday January 10. Bombshell with Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron and Margot Robbie, and the Tom Hanks heartwarmer A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood, will get showings, as will Taika Waititi's absurdist WWII satire Jojo Rabbit and the award-winning queer French romance Portrait of a Lady on Fire.  Love a retro movie? Classic Rooftop Cinema will have Retro Wednesdays in January playing Labyrinth (on David Bowie's birthday), 10 Things I Hate About You, hilarious 1987 fairytale The Princess Bride and Spike Lee's incendiary 1989 drama D

Ben Oliver leading a Drinking History Tour
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do

Drinking History Tours

Around Melbourne, Melbourne

One of the best ways to learn about Melbourne is on foot, with an experienced guide pointing out nooks and crannies you might otherwise miss and telling entertaining stories about Melbourne's colourful past. But walking and learning are thirsty work, no?  Enter Drinking History Tours, which will take you on a tour down laneways, up alleys and through hidden parts of Melbourne or Fitzroy to teach you about the city's hidden gems and secret histories. And most importantly, the tours include stops at three fantastic Melbourne bars along the way.  The Melbourne tour takes in Federation Square, the Forum, the MCG, AC/DC Lane, the Old Treasury Building, Chinatown and more. The tour stops at three bars en route, and there are snacks at the second bar and a full dinner at the third. You'll learn fascinating stories about Melbourne's seedy past, including tales of murder, brothels and a centuries-old unsolved mystery. The Fitzroy tour starts at St Patrick's Cathedral and includes the Royal Exhibition Building, the Spanish Club, Brunswick Street, Johnston Street and laneways in between. You'll learn about Fitzroy's seedier side, including the epic battle between Squizzy Taylor and his archrival, as well as fun facts about the suburb's art and music scene. It also stops at three bars along the way: an old Melbourne stalwart, a reinvented hipster hangout and one of Melbourne's best cocktail bars. There's also a Whisky Bars and Gin Joints tour where guests explore three whisky or gin

A woman in a head scarf with a blunt fringe poses with a stall of illustrated artworks.
Photograph: Supplied
Shopping, Markets

Brunswick Artist Market

The Spotted Mallard, Brunswick

This monthly artist market is set in the lush, art deco surrounds of the Spotted Mallard in the heart of Brunswick's Sydney Road. Here you’ll find dozens of artist stalls selling a range of local goods and a flea market on the bottom floor where you can hunt of gems. Whether it’s jewellery, paintings or ceramics you’re after, head down from 10am to support local crafters, listen to some live music and dig into barbecue eats. While you’re there, grab a coffee from Co-Grounds’ volunteer-powered coffee caravan where 100 percent of the profits go to charity projects in the Asia Pacific region. The theme is very much about giving with these guys: the market is an initiative of charity Co-Ground, with 100 per cent of profits from the market going towards their education and livelihood programs in the Asia Pacific. These markets are a holistic great for your your home and your fashion collection, with wholesome benefits for local artists and empowerment reaching communities as far as Vanuatu and the Phillippines. 

Kaiela Dungala Koorie Heritage Trust 2020 supplied
Suzanne Atkinson, 'Inspiration'


Koorie Heritage Trust, Melbourne

Just over two hours north of Melbourne is Shepparton’s Kaiela Arts Centre, one of the busiest and most influential Aboriginal art centres in the state. Founded in 2006, the centre represents around 80 artists from the Kaiela-Dungala (Goulburn Murray) region, working across an eclectic range of styles and media. The Koorie Heritage Trust is celebrating their work with this exhibition, which covers everything from ceramics to paintings and wearable screen-printed items. The artists in the exhibition include Suzanne Atkinson, Tammy-Lee Atkinson, Amy Briggs, Eric Brown, Dylan Charles, Cynthia Hardie, Eva Ponting, Norm Stewart and Brett Wilson.

Lido on the Roof
Photograph: Eugene Hyland
Film, Outdoor cinema

Lido on the Roof

Lido Cinemas, Hawthorn

Lido Cinema’s rooftop makes a triumphant return this summer for its fifth year under the stars.  Lido on the Roof will screen critically acclaimed summer releases including the new Charlie's Angels, Matt Damon and Christian Bale in Ford V Ferrari, Stephen King's Doctor Sleep, Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce in The Two Popes, as well as Marriage Story, the new Noah Baumbach film starring Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver.  Other screenings include Great Gerwig's Little Women, Jumanji: The Next Level, Cats, Frozen 2, Bombshell and even a midnight screening on Wednesday, December 18 of the brand-new Star Wars film, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.  No need to BYO snacks: Lido's food and drink counter serves up great movie treats, from choctops and vegan-friendly popcorn to edamame and craft beers. Check out the full program to see what's showing and hit the Book Now button to buy your tickets. 

Shirin Neshat: Dreamers National Gallery of Victoria 2019 supplied
© Shirin Neshat

Shirin Neshat: Dreamers

NGV International, Southbank

Iranian-born, New York-based artist and filmmaker Shirin Neshat has been exploring the relationship between women, identity and Islam for more than 20 years. In Dreamers, her trilogy of black and white video installations, Neshat examines the world of the subconscious from the perspective of three women. In the first installation, 'Illusions and Mirrors' (2013), actress Natalie Portman encounters her doppelgänger while exploring the shadowy rooms of a ruined mansion, while the second, 'Roja' (2016), traces an Iranian woman’s attempts to connect with American culture. The third, 'Sarah' (2016), sees the protagonist in a dreamlike forest filled with processions of religious and military figures. “Shirin Neshat is renowned for her films depicting women grappling with identity and society,” says NGV director Tony Ellwood. “The Dreamers is an important trilogy, bringing together three works that are both topical and timeless in their exploration of the female experience.”

Mini Mega Model Museum child playing with dinosaurs
Photograph: Benjamin Healley
Things to do

Mini Mega Model Museum

Melbourne Museum, Carlton

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be like Alice and eat something to become huge, or drink something to become tiny? What would the world look like to a giant? What does it look like to a cat?  You can find out at Melbourne Museum's Mini Mega Model Museum, which plays with scale in more than 300 objects displayed in tiny and oversized galleries. There are model specimens to examine in the Zoomological Laboratory, hyper-realistic wax food in the life-sized cafeteria to play with and a fully furnished mini-mansion to pore over. The mini-mansion took more than 40 years to create, and museum visitors could spend hours appreciating every tiny detail.  Kids can learn about model making and try their hand during the Mini Mega Makers Workshop. And for some very large-scale critters, have a stroll through the museum's Dinosaur Walk. 

Kid splaying at KAWS playtime
Kids, Exhibitions

KAWS: Playtime

NGV International, Southbank

New York artist KAWS (aka Brian Donnelly) has brought his larger-than-life sculptures and paintings to the NGV this summer for KAWS: Companionship in the Age of Loneliness. Alongside this mega exhibition will be something for the littlest art fans. KAWS: Playtime is a free and immersive exhibition for kids that includes a number of hands-on activities that draw inspiration from KAWS’ work, especially his BFF character which is inspired by popular cartoon characters. The exhibition is on display until April 13 at NGV International and it’s free to attend.

Agatha Gothe-Snape, 'The Outcome is Certain' MUMA 2020 supplied
Image courtesy of the artist and the Commercial, Sydney.

Agatha Gothe-Snape: The Outcome is Certain

Monash University Museum of Art, Caulfield East

Agatha Gothe-Snape is one of the most original and thoughtful artists working in Australia at the moment, always questioning how we approach and understand contemporary art in novel ways. This survey at Monash University of Modern Art covers more than a decade of her work, stretching back to 2008. It includes wall drawings, powerpoint presentations, sculpture, video, augmented reality, works on paper and collaborations. There’ll also be two new major artworks, about which we know very little. But you can be sure to expect something thought-provoking, which will make you reconsider your position as an audience member, and in keeping with Gothe-Snape’s minimal aesthetic.

People shopping at Arts Centre Melbourne Sunday Market
Photograph: Supplied
Shopping, Markets

Arts Centre Melbourne Sunday Market

Arts Centre Melbourne, Southbank

Arts Centre Melbourne isn't only great for the odd show or even for a meal and a tipple at the Barre. In fact, every Sunday the grounds of the arts precinct's hub come alive with market stalls selling everything from handmade leather wallet to locally made art by the city's designers and small business owners.  Situated a short walk from Flinders Street Station, everything on offer at the market has been locally made, and the market also features a great range of food stalls if you want to shake up your Sunday brunch. Head over to the Arslan gozleme stall for some Turkish pastry layered with delicious spicy lamb or cheese and spinach, or make a stop at the poffertjes stall for some Dutch pancakes.

Liquid Light NGV 2019
Image courtesy NGV

Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass

NGV International, Southbank

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.

Queer Deluxe at Bimbo
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do

Queer Deluxe

Carlton Club, Melbourne

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.

Gaol Experience theatre restaurant
Photograph: Supplied
Theatre, Comedy

The Gaol Experience Theatre Restaurant

Old Melbourne Gaol, Melbourne

In 2017, Melbourne suffered a mighty blow. Dracula’s, arguably Melbourne’s premiere theatre restaurant and cabaret venue, closed its glittery doors after 37 wild years of G-strings, pasties and ghost train rides. Luckily, Melbourne’s other two theatre restaurants were available to fill that void: Witches and Britches and Williamstown’s Titanic Theatre Restaurant. But in 2019 something new came along to add to the list. Say hello to the Gaol Experience, a dinner and show experience. As you might have guessed, it takes place in the Old Melbourne Gaol and dredges up the site’s 174-year history for a show that combines burlesque, sideshow and comedy.  Guests are served a two-course dinner in the original cell block of the City Watch House, which is the place where felons were brought to face justice when the jail was in operation. Fancy taking things up a notch? VIP guests can serve more time, kicking back cocktails in old jail cells as the evening goes on.  The show itself includes the talents of a team of inmates (also known as cabaret performers Queen of the Damned) and includes lots of classic songs – think anything from Tina Arena and Queen to Wolfmother and Beyoncé. And because it’s burlesque, you should expect some risqué scenes – these inmates were charged with indecent exposure, after all.  The show takes over four areas of the old jail and includes anything from laser beams to wanted photos and even a flash mob. Tickets start at $75, and you can organise special hen

Ashes, Ned Kelly's Armour and MacRobinson's sweets
Photograph: Supplied
Museums, History

Velvet, Iron, Ashes

State Library of Victoria, Melbourne

Melbourne is growing and developing at a rapid pace, but how much do you really know about it? Now you can learn about some of the state’s most influential people, events and icons. Velvet, Iron, Ashes is an exhibition located in the State Library's newly refurbished Victoria Gallery. The exhibition will showcase more than 200 items from the Library's own collection plus additions from other major institutions and private collections. It gives visitors an opportunity to learn some illustrious stories about Ned Kelly, the Ashes Urn, Yalloum Power Station and even Nappie Wash.  Visitors can learn how fairy floss is linked to fancy dress, how the Freddo Frog is tied to one of the greatest air races in history, and what the Ashes Urn and Ned Kelly’s armour have in common. A retro-style Map-o-matic device allows visitors to print out a map, opening up a world of storytelling to a new generation of Victorians. The exhibition is open to all ages and runs from October 24, 2019, until July 12, 2020. It is free to attend. The Ashes Urn is exclusively loaned from Marylebone Cricket Club in London and will be displayed from November 2019 until February 2020, so don’t miss out on seeing it in the flesh.

Making Aperol Spritz at Aperol Bar
Things to do, Food and drink

Club Aperol

Riverland Bar, Melbourne

The sun is high in the sky and it’s your day off – don’t waste it inside bingeing Netflix. Make your way down to the Yarra River and hit up Riverland Bar and its summer pop-up Club Aperol, open every day until March 31. Throughout summer the casual-cool bar will be slinging Aperol Spritzes from the Club Aperol pop-up for $12 a glass from 11am alongside a menu from the long-standing legends of Italian food, DOC Italian Gastronomia. The citrus-driven Spritz is the drink of choice over summer, and the blend of Aperol, Prosecco and soda garnished with a wedge of orange and a smack of mint is guaranteed to quench your thirst over the hot, dry days. If the classic Spritz isn't enough for you, try the Riverland original, the Aperol Spritz Slushie, a frozen take on the classic that will cool you down fast (move over frosé!). Accompanying this season’s favourite sunset-in-a-glass is DOC Italian Gastonomia's menu including their famous porchetta rolls – a soft roll encasing slow-cooked, rolled, roast pork rubbed with herbs and spices, a thick crunch of crackling, a trio of greens and provolone cheese, available every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Any other day of the week, you'll be able to order antipasto boards loaded with cured meats, cheese and marinated vegetables; focaccia filled with mortadella, salami or in-season tomatoes accompanied by fior di latte cheese; two gluten-free salads; and skewers of grilled lamb simply seasoned with Sicilian sea salt.  Riverland Bar devotees al

Things to do, Food and drink

Tokosan Ninja Nite Battles

Tokosan, Prahran

Have you ever wanted to be a part of your own Japanese game show? Well, wonder no more, because Tokosan holds pub trivia, Japanese-style, on the first Wednesday of every month, called Ninja Nite Battle. There are no ninjas, so you'll just have to use your imagination. Instead of flexing your brains, Ninja Nite Battles pits teams against each other in eating competitions, sumo wrestling, human curling (we don't know what this is, but we imagine it is ridiculous and awesome), takoyaki mouth catching (yes, that is catching a hot octopus fritter with your mouth) and many more – all performed while under the safe and calming influence of alcohol.  Aside from being extremely fun and potentially embarrassing, you get to win prizes along the way, as well as go up for larger prizes like a $100 dinner for two, bar tabs and merchandise. It is free to participate, but you do have to register each month.   

Gut Feelings Exhibition
Things to do, Exhibitions

Gut Feelings: Your Mind, Your Microbes

Melbourne Museum, Carlton

When is the last time you really considered your gut health? Or thanked the tiny microbes that live your intestinal track and digest your food, boost your immunity and keep you healthy? Scientists are learning more every day about the fascinating community of microbes that live inside each and every one of us. There are more microbes inside the human body than there are stars in the Milky Way, and they weigh up to 2kg.  Melbourne Museum's Gut Feelings exhibition will change your mind about the tiny creatures (yes, they're alive!) that you share your body with. The interactive exhibition is a multi-sensory experience, with things to touch, hear and see.

More things to do in Melbourne this month

Cocktail at Romeo Lane
Photograph: Nathalie Saldumbide
Bars, Cocktail bars

The 50 best bars in Melbourne right now

Here is Melbourne viewed through the bottom of a glass: from its world-beating cocktail lounges to its down-and-divey saloons. These bars represent the pinnacle of Melbourne drinking.

Princes Bridge. Melbourne
Photograph: Robert Blackburn
Things to do

The best free things to do in Melbourne

Guess what? Not everything in Melbourne costs a bunch of money. From art shows to coffee tastings, there are a bunch of things to do in this fine city that you can do for free – here are our favourites.

Torch the Place Melbourne Theatre Company 2020 supplied
Photograph: Justin Ridler
Theatre, Musicals

Melbourne theatre and musicals in February

Melbourne's theatre scene has really kicked into top gear this February, with our major companies starting their mainstage seasons in grand style. Malthouse Theatre has a brilliantly funny two-man take on The Importance of Being Earnest, while Melbourne Theatre Company is premiering the debut play by Benjamin Law. There's plenty of brilliant queer performance around the city thanks to Midsumma Festival, while Asia TOPA is filling our stages with surprising and eclectic shows from the Asia-Pacific region.

Great Otway National Park
Photograph: Robert Blackburn
Travel, Short getaways

The best day trips from Melbourne

If you're looking for a break from the inner-city grid, there's no better cure than a day trip from Melbourne. The state of Victoria is full of friendly neighbourhood towns, whether you're in the mood for a winery tour, a road trip or a national park to explore.

People browsing through clothing at a market stall
Photograph: Supplied
Shopping, Markets

The best markets in Melbourne

Borrow your nanna's tartan shopping trolley and venture out to one of Melbourne's best markets for farm-fresh produce, designer homewares, vintage fashions and tasty street food.

Food at Dari Korean Cafe
Photograph: Graham Denholm

The best new restaurants in Melbourne right now

If you love food and live in Melbourne, your 'must-try' list of new restaurants, cafés and bars probably takes up your phone's entire storage capacity by now. Luckily, we've put together a curated list of the newest, hottest and coolest restaurants our critics are raving about.