Things to do in Melbourne in January

January's best events in one place – it's your social emergency saviour for fun things to do in Melbourne in January
Midsumma Pride March
Photograph: Alexander Legaree
By Time Out editors
Advertising

Wondering what to do in Melbourne in January? 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.

1
Theatre, Drama

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

icon-location-pin Princess Theatre, Melbourne
icon-calendar

At long last Melbourne muggles will be able to get a glimpse inside JK Rowling's Wizarding World with their own two eyes: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is headed to the Princess Theatre. After becoming the highest selling play on both Broadway and the West End, Melbourne is the third stop on the Hogwarts Express. If you don't know a lot about the play, then here's the lowdown: it's a sequel to the series, based on a story written by Rowling herself and adapted for the stage by Jack Thorne. It's presented in two parts, which you can watch on the same day or across two consecutive evenings. We won't give too much away about the plot, but audiences can expect to find the gang 19 years on from the Battle of Hogwarts. While Harry himself grapples with the troubles of his past, his son Albus deals with living in the shadow of his famous father. The play won a record-breaking nine Olivier Awards in London and six Tony Awards in New York.

2
Installation view of Escher x nendo | Between Two Worlds
Art, Drawings

Between Two Worlds | Escher X nendo

icon-location-pin NGV International, Southbank
icon-calendar

The National Gallery of Victoria is bringing a world-first exhibition of works by MC Escher to Melbourne this summer. Between Two Worlds | Escher X nendo will feature more than 160 prints and drawings from the renowned Dutch artist as well as an immersive Escher-inspired environment created by Japanese design studio Nendo. Escher rose to prominence in the 20th-century art world for his mind-bending and mathematically complex works like ‘Hand with Reflecting Sphere’, ‘Relativity’ and ‘Balcony’. Though he considered himself to have little mathematical ability his art has become iconic for its seamless tessellation, warped perspectives and impossible objects – like endless, connected staircases and mirrored self-portraits. 

Advertising
3
Angelique Kerber of Germany takes on Serena Williams of the United States on day thirteen of the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia on Saturday, January 30, 2016.(Ben Solomon/Tennis Australia)
Photograph: Ben Solomon
Things to do, Fairs and festivals

Australian Open

icon-location-pin Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne
icon-calendar

Every year, thousands head to Melbourne Park to watch the superstars of tennis battle it out in the fierce summer heat. Despite the heatwaves that occur regularly during the event (temperatures of 35 degrees or higher are common) the Australian Open continues to attract the world's best tennis players and their fans for the southern hemisphere's only Grand Slam tournament. Even if you don’t make it into the arena, Birrarung Marr will buzz with live entertainment and food stalls at the Australian Open Festival, where live screenings of matches will be played on big screens. The AO Festival also includes a series of live performances by some amazing home-grown acts – previous years have featured Jimmy Barnes, Client Liaison, Tina Arena and Vera Blue. 

4
Tina Arena, EVITA
Theatre, Musicals

Evita

icon-location-pin Arts Centre Melbourne, Southbank
icon-calendar

There are few musical theatre songs that have attained the anthem status bestowed upon ‘Don’t Cry for Me Argentina’. Most composers dream of creating just one tune so universally hummable – the kind that keeps the money rolling in in the form of royalty cheques long after the composer has passed on. Andrew Lloyd Webber, who penned that earworm for his 1978 musical-cum-rock opera, Evita, is responsible for a handful of them. So it’s quite a moment when, at the start of Evita’s second act, Australia’s own Tina Arena steps forward on the balcony of the Casa Rosada as Argentina’s controversial first lady, Eva Perón, to deliver the song. The clarity and warmth of her voice is astonishing as she, along with the Opera Australia orchestra, weaves a musical tale of triumph and yearning. And, of course, it’s glorious. Wrenching. The kind of singing that makes you hold your breath, anticipating the next phrase.

Time Out says
Advertising
5
Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon at the University of Bristol 2017
Photograph: Carolyn Eaton
Museums, Science

Museum of the Moon

icon-location-pin Scienceworks, Spotswood
icon-calendar

Think you can’t see the Moon indoors? Think again. Scienceworks has an exciting new exhibition for December, which lets visitors take in a replica of the Moon close up. Museum of the Moon is essentially a seven-metre diameter spherical sculpture that features large-scale NASA imagery of the lunar surface. It’s shown at a scale of 1:500,000, which means each centimetre of the sculpture represents five kilometres of the Moon’s actual surface. Created by UK artist Luke Jerram, Museum of the Moon has travelled over the world in recent years. What’s cool about the installation is that it blends detailed lunar imagery, internally illuminated “moonlight” and a specially designed soundtrack created by BAFTA award-winning composer Dan Jones. Virtual reality experience and game Opaque Space: Earthlight – Lunar Hub will illuminate the way you experience the moon, as well. This 40-minute experience features 20 minutes in-game and uses headsets and backpack PCs to allow players to move freely around the play space. 

6
Miss Behaves
Photograph: Supplied
Theatre, Comedy

The Miss Behave Gameshow

icon-location-pin Arts Centre Melbourne, Southbank
icon-calendar

The first thing to know about The Miss Behave Gameshow is that it does exactly what it says on the tin: it is an actual game show with competitors, points, winners and losers. As the audience enters the theatre they’re divided into two teams – iPhone users on the right and everybody else on the left – who pit their wits, spirit, tenacity and bodies against each other in a series of simple games for the next hour and a bit. Some of the games involve your phone – be prepared to take a selfie and text in an answer – but most are analogue and simply require you to shout out, stand up in your seat, dance, get up onto the stage or “do anything for a point” (a lusty onstage pash or flashing your particularly funny underwear might get you over the line). And make sure you pay attention to the cardboard-covered set if you’re looking for a bonus point. Overseeing the competition and guiding the audience through the pumping music and fierce competition is hostess and games mistress Miss Behave, a glittery human mirror ball and the alter-ego of London cabaret artist Amy Saunders. 

Time Out says
Advertising
7
Art

William Wegman: Being Human

icon-location-pin NGV International, Southbank
icon-calendar

Plenty of people dress up their pets in human clothes and take photographs of them to share with the world. But you wouldn't call those photos art, would you? American artist William Wegman is the exception to that rule. He's made a career out of photographing his Weimaraners, the large grey dogs that serve as his artistic muses and sometime collaborators. Since 1970, he's dressed them up in all variety of clothing and shown them in all sorts of unusual settings and configurations. His first major subject was his dog Man Ray, who helped Wegman break through to the big time. When Man Ray died in 1982, he was named Man of the Year by the Village Voice. Now the National Gallery of Victoria is due to host this major survey of Wegman's work, featuring more than 100 photographs, spanning more than three decades. There are 50 works in the mix that have never been seen before and were selected by the artist.

8
Yarra River with skyline at Arbory Afloat
Bars, Cocktail bars

Arbory Afloat

icon-location-pin Arbory Bar and Eatery, Melbourne
icon-calendar

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 summer. The giant, nautical-themed floating pontoon has moored itself alongside Arbory’s permanent fixture beside platform 13 of Flinders Street Station. This year Arbory Afloat has teamed up with Parks Victoria to create a barge that's 19 metres bigger than last year’s (it now sits at over 69 metres in length). 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 like Pomegranate Daquiris and Watermelon Sangria) and a Mediterranean-inspired wine list. Hungry? You can dig into fresh seafood including grilled southern calamari and eight different wood-fired pizzas. Entertainment has been curated by Sky Lab and will feature some of the country's buzziest DJs who will be soundtracking your balmy evenings all throughout summer. A curated session called Arbory.Live will happen every weekend and feature music acts, DJs and theatrical performances. Look out for Supple Fox who will be bringing their roving theatrical performance 'Aviary at Arbory' to Arbory Afloat. Expect a flock of avian creatures flocking to the barge at sunset with a series of song and dance performances. Arbory Afloat will be open from 11am to 1am, seven days a week, including Christmas Day and New Year's Eve. If last summer is anything to go by, Ar

Advertising
9
Theatre, Musicals

School of Rock: The Musical

icon-location-pin Her Majesty's Theatre, Melbourne
icon-calendar

School of Rock does seem now like a fairly obvious vehicle for a fully realised musical, but that’s hindsight talking. A lot could have gone wrong on the way to actualisation: the source material has a painfully thin plot, with really only one central gag; the music needs to be a pastiche but also has to convince as a completely integrated score; and the kids really have to be as talented as the story promises they will be. Any one of those could have brought this project to its knees, and not in that rock-god, slide-across-the-stage kind of way. While that plot might be thin, thankfully it’s still pretty good.

Time Out says
10
Moonlight Cinema Opening Night Melbourne
Photograph: Supplied
Film, Outdoor cinema

Moonlight Cinema

icon-location-pin Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Melbourne
icon-calendar

There's nothing quite like a film under the stars in the evening cool of the Botanic Gardens. Settle back with friends and family for a movie and as always, the Moonlight Cinema food truck and bar can supply you with comestibles, but you're welcome to BYO food and drinks too. This summer's programming has the usual mix of acclaimed Oscar hopefuls, kids' favourites and retro screenings to satisfy the nostalgic urges. Time Out is especially looking forward to The Favourite – the new film by the director of The Lobster that portrays the outrageous rivalry of two cousins in the court of England’s Queen Anne in the 18th century, with Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone. 

Show more
See what's on this weekend in Melbourne

More things to do in Melbourne this month

Tina Arena, EVITA
Photograph: Jeff Busby
Theatre

The best theatre and musicals in Melbourne this December

Raise your arms in praise: Tina Arena is finally in town with Opera Australia's production of Evita. As the year starts to wind down, Melbourne Theatre Company's glittering Twelfth Night is still going strong, while it's a great month for stand-up comedy.

Advertising
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.

Advertising
Pouring drinks at Bar Liberty
Photograph: Graham Denholm
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.

Advertising
Advertising
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.

Advertising