Best things to do in Melbourne in January
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
This is not your ordinary tour bus. The Melbourne Music Bus Tour, a collaboration between Arts Centre Melbourne and the Australian Music Vault, takes 22 lucky people on an almost four-hour tour of Melbourne's famous music venues, laneways, recording studios, rehearsal spaces, artists' homes and important Indigenous music spots. The tour visits current live music hotspots like the Tote and the Palace, as well as famed venues of yesteryear like the Crystal Palace and the Espy (currently undergoing renovations but destined for live music greatness once again). It also visits recording studios including Mushroom Records, Bakehouse Studios and the Dogs in Space house, and even stops by Molly Meldrum's house. Musicologist Bruce Milne (of 3RRR, Au-go-go Records and now Greville Records fame) leads the tours. It's a must-do for any Melbourne music lover.
What do zoo animals get up to when all the daytime visitors have headed back to their cars? Quite a lot, it turns out, with many African animals most active at dusk. That makes Werribee Open Range Zoo's Sunset Safari the perfect time to see giraffes, rhinoceroses, elands, zebras, scimitar-horned oryxes, hippopotamuses and other incredible African animals. Visitors pile onto the safari buses and travel out to the 45-hectare open savannah section of the zoo. Sunset is the best time to see the magnificent creatures who live here, and safari guests will get to see all kinds of cool African wildlife at their most active. The luckiest group goes out at the same time as the truck that delivers their food, which is sure to bring the animals running from all corners of the savannah.
Is your New Year's resolution to learn to make better cocktails? It should be. Having a few go-to cocktail recipes up your sleeve will lift your party game (and your casual Wednesday nights), and knowing how to mix a mean drink is one of those adult skills you really need to pick up along the way. Red Spice Road is here to help. For five consecutive Thursdays, the Asian hawker-style restaurant is offering cocktail masterclasses in the bar area. Each class focuses on a twist on a classic cocktail, such as a hot mint mojito. Punters learn to make the Red Spice Road variation, plus they also sample the classic cocktail it is based on. And of course, you get to drink what you make. Once you've got a new cocktail in your repertoire, you can kick on at the bar, which is offering $17 cocktails until 8pm.
More things to do in Melbourne this month
Find all the best art exhibitions in Melbourne over the next few weeks.
January is usually relatively quiet when it comes to theatre, but with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child finally touching down under – and Midsumma Festival getting underway – there are more than a few highlights.
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.
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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.
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.
From food to laneways, drinking to ghosts, these tours are the best way to get to know a different side of Melbourne.
We've scoped out the best activities Melbourne has to offer kids of all ages, and even a few that will keep the whole family entertained.
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.
Looking for a movie to see this week in Melbourne? Check out the latest releases in Australian cinemas, all reviewed by Time Out critics.