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 attractions, art exhibitions, theatre shows, activities for kids to get amongst as well.
Best things to do in Melbourne in February
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
Even if you have not read the book (and you should), there's no question that Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale is one of the most talked-about books of our time. The Emmy-winning show of the same name seems less and less like fiction, given the state of the world today, and Atwood has written a sequel, set 15 years after the events of the first novel (and some years after the events of the show). The Testaments became a world-wide smash hit, breaking numerous records in its first week of release. Atwood is coming to Australia to discuss The Testaments, The Handmaid's Tale and the dozens of other works she has written over her long and much-awarded career. Pre-sale tickets go on sale on November 25 at noon, with general public tickets on sale on November 29. To encourage younger readers, 25 free tickets will be given away free to people under 25. These tickets will be released on the day of the show. Blessed be the fruit.
What were the 1980s without Norwegian heartthrobs A-ha? Apart from having one of the easiest to pun band names, the European synth-pop trio are responsible for one of the most ambitious vocal crescendos with the enduring hit ‘Take on Me’ (don’t pretend like you haven’t tried and failed to sing along). A-ha are returning to Australia for the first time in more than 30 years this summer. The band have two Victorian dates locked into the calendar, including a poptastic stadium show at Margaret Court Arena. They’ll also be performing at winery festival A Day on the Green at Rochford Wines in the Yarra Valley. The band have announced they will be playing their popular breakthrough album Hunting High and Low in full on their Australian tour, alongside other favourite songs. For those whose A-ha discography is a little dusty, yes, that does mean you’ll be hearing ‘Take on Me’ and ‘The Sun Always Shines on T.V.’. Joining A-ha will be Rick Astley, who Gen X know as a hit-maker and Gen Y know as the inspiration behind one of the best internet pranks of the noughties. Astley had the last laugh, however, with the popularity of Rick-rolling introducing the musician to a new audience. And to wrap up the 1980s time warp, the A Day on the Green show will also include Pseudo Echo (as well as Sydney band I Know Leopard, whose band members were barely out of nappies during most of the ‘80s). Visit the website for more information and to buy tickets.---------Just kidding – you can find out
Get ready to rock-iddly-ock Melbourne. The most famous (read: to our knowledge, only) Ned Flanders-inspired heavy metal band is coming to town. Put simply, Okilly Dokilly is five men dressed up as The Simpsons’ character Ned Flanders playing “nedal” (Ned metal) music. Their dedication to their craft goes beyond just wearing pink collared shirts and green pullovers too. Each band member has a Ned name (Head Ned, Bed Ned, Dread Ned, Shred Ned and Zed Ned) and the lyrics in their songs are largely made up of Ned Flanders quotes. Take their single ‘White Wine Spritzer’ for example, which literally just features pounding riffs and the lyrics ‘ah hell, give me a white wine spritzer’ (a quote from season ten episode ‘Viva Ned Flanders). Debbie downers stay at home. If, perish the thought, Okilly Dokilly started as a joke then it’s certainly escalated beyond that. The band now have two Flan-tastic albums under their belt (Howdilly Doodilly and Howdilly Twodilly), have toured internationally and have appeared on the BBC, Time, Esquire and even had the film clip for ‘White Wine Spritzer’ featured on the The Simpsons itself. If you want to hear Okilly Dokilly live Melbourinos, head along to the Corner Hotel on Saturday, February 15. Tickets are on sale now.
This February, head to South Wharf for Juniperlooza, a two-day gin festival celebrating the herbaceous spirit at the Boatbuilders Yard. A line-up of 23 independent Australian and international gin producers will all showcase their gin in two forms: in a classic gin and tonic and in a signature gin cocktail concocted by the gin makers. Highlights from this year's line-up include Adelaide Hills, Archie Rose, Bass and Flinders Distillery, Four Pillars Gin, Ink Gin (Husk Distillery), Larrikin Gin, Forty Spotted Gin (Lark Distillery), The Melbourne Gin Company, Ounce Gin, Patient Wolf Gin, McHenry Gin (McHenry Distillery), Brookie’s Byron Gin, Cedar Fox Distilling Co, Monkey 47, Chase Gin, Never Never Distilling Co, Blind Tiger, The Botanist, Martin Millers and East London Liquor Company. Tickets are $45 for the Saturday session and $40 for the Sunday, and visitors will be able to expect food from the Boatbuilders Yard kitchen and tasting sessions led by some of the country's best gin producers. Stick around for some navy-strength entertainment at this one-day riverside gin fest.
With Bohemian Rhapsody the tenth highest grossing film of 2018, it's no surprise that there is still a huge appetite for Queen and their instantly recognisable music. The band have teamed up with American Idol winner Adam Lambert, who has been singing lead vocals since 2012, and they are touring Australia in February 2020. You can expect all of your Queen favourites, including 'We Will Rock You', 'Radio Ga Ga' and 'We Are the Champions'. Original Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor asked Lambert to perform with the band after they played a medley with six American Idol finalists in 2012 and were impressed with Lambert's vocal chops and spirit. May said of his sort-of new bandmate: "It's a worthy challenge for us, and I'm sure Adam would meet with Freddie's approval." In the immortal words of Wayne Campbell: I thought we'd go for a little 'Bohemian Rhapsody', gentlemen?
Is there a performer singing today with a more golden voice than Michael Bublé? The crooner channels the smooth sound of the greats of yesteryear like Frank Sinatra and has sold out five world tours. Now he's coming back to Austalia, with shows in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. And he's not coming alone; Bublé is bringing a 36-piece orchestra with him, so you know you'll be in for a very lush show. Bublé has sold more than 75 million records and has four Grammy awards. He'll be playing Saturday, February 15 and Sunday, February 16, 2020. Tickets go on sale on June 5, with presale tickets available through Telstra on May 30.
On Saturday, February 29, Beer Fest returns to the sunny grounds of Catani Gardens in St Kilda. Punters will be able to taste over 300 different kinds of small-batch craft beers, ciders, cocktails and wines throughout the day. As drinking works up quite the appetite, the Beer Fest team will also be bringing in a bunch of street food traders to keep you full. The complete line-up of beer and food trucks will be released soon. Beer Fest is all about getting to know the brewers themselves with a host of masterclasses, live demonstrations, tastings and one-on-one experiences happening throughout the event. For the 2020 event, Beer Fest is collaborating with Art Vs Science, Burnley Brewing and CryerMalt for a limited edition Summer Session Ale. It will only be available at Beer Fest. Tickets will go on sale soon (at the last festival they were set at a very reasonable $27).
You probably know Kevin McCloud best as the quizzical, then skeptical, but ultimately impressed and delighted host of Grand Designs. Hell, we’ve been binging the British TV show that sees idealistic new homebuyers try to create innovative, unique (and often impossible) dwellings for two decades. And ol’ Kev has been there, watching the projects inevitably go over budget and over time, since day dot. But the television host, writer, environmentalist and amateur balloonist has many more skills and intriguing stories than those solely amassed on his architectural adventures. The World According to Kevin McCloud is being pitched as a live theatre show (although it may evolve, Grand Designs-style, into more of a theatrical talk) detailing McCloud’s experiences as a TV host, but also about his personal life, which is peppered with fun facts. Did you know McCloud’s father was a rocket scientist? Or that the beloved TV personality actually did study the history of architecture at Cambridge University? Wild. You’ll glean more of these Kevin nuggets when he visits Hamer Hall on February 16, 2020. The live show will include a Q&A session so you can really get to know this charming Brit, as well as experiments, anecdotes and, of course, some grand designs. McCloud is personally promising “...some very poor music and maybe a little construction mayhem. No hard hat necessary.” Pre-sale tickets for the Melbourne show start Monday, November 11.
South Melbourne Market's annual night market will be returning in 2020, kicking off a killer summer on January 8. Returning for five consecutive Wednesday evenings, Melburnians can enjoy a balmy night of eating, drinking, and dancing as live music performers take the stage. You can expect food trucks, food marquees and food carts, with many of the market's regular food traders also open. The festivities kick off from midday, which means you can head over for lunch and stick around for a few hours of shopping, live entertainment and more food. The full program will be announced in December, so stay tuned.
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