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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

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A group of people at the Midsumma Carnival
Photograph: Alexander Legaree

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.

Things to do in Melbourne in January

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

Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne

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 Live Stage also features a series of live performances by some amazing home-grown acts.  World-famous chefs are serving up good times and delicious fare at the AO Chef Series, plus there will be plenty of brand activations happening all around the sporting precinct.  Tickets for the Australian Open start at only $49. Click the 'buy tickets' button above to get yours. 

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

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Chicago musical Capitol Theatre 2019 supplied
Photograph: Peter Brew-Bevan
Theatre, Musicals

Chicago

Arts Centre Melbourne, Southbank

Long before it was an Academy Award-winning film, Chicago was a hit Broadway musical. Penned by musical theatre's dynamic duo John Kander and Fred Ebb, the musical was only a minor splash when it premiered in 1975. But when it was given a stripped back and sexed up new production in 1996, it became an immediate sensation and eventually the longest running Broadway revival of all time. That's the production which Melbourne audiences will see, this time with Natalie Bassingthwaighte playing Roxie (the Renée Zellweger role) opposite musical theatre star Alinta Chidzey as Velma (the Catherine Zeta-Jones role). Jason Donovan is playing the smooth-talking lawyer Billy Flynn, while vocal powerhouse Casey Donovan is taking on Matron Mama Morton, the prison warden who sings 'When You're Good to Mama'. The show also includes 'Razzle Dazzle', 'Cell Block Tango', 'Mr Cellophane', and, of course, 'All That Jazz'.

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.

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Theatre, Drama

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Princess Theatre, Melbourne

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.

Things to do, Pop-up locations

Melbourne Star’s Summer Beach Box

Melbourne Star Observation Wheel, Docklands

What could be a better summertime activity than taking a 30-minute flight in Melbourne Star’s cool, temperature-controlled cabin? This summer, Melbourne Star’s cabins will become pop-up summer beach boxes featuring pool toys, refreshments and a blissfully cool 21-degree temperature controlled space 120 meters above Melbourne. During this flight, you'll also enjoy 360-degree views of the port, towards Melbourne CBD and all the way out to the shores of Mornington Peninsula. By nighttime, you can enjoy a spectacular sunset with views of the city along with audio commentary playing in the background, revealing the hidden stories and history of the viewable landmarks. Summer Beach Box bookings also include a cheese platter and a complimentary drink for each guest. The Summer Beach Box experience is available daily from 11.30am to 8.30pm, until February 29, 2020. Bookings must be made five days in advance The flight starts at $29 per person for a group of eight or $200 for an intimate two-person flight.

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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. 

Barefoot Cinema
Photograph: Supplied
Film, Outdoor cinema

Barefoot Cinema

Rippon Lea House and Gardens, Elsternwick

Barefoot Cinema returns to the south side for a season of fun flicks.  A chilled out outdoor cinema will set up in the picturesque grounds of Portsea at Point Nepean National Park (Dec 26-Jan 7), then move to the Briars Homestead in Mount Martha (Jan 10-26) and end its season at Elsternwick's Rippon Lea Estate (Dec 6-7 and Jan 29-Feb 16). Films range from family-friendly comedies to fantasies, cult classics and documentaries. Whatever your niche, watch a film against the backdrop of Port Philip Bay and get stuck into food and drink from the on-site bar, various food trucks and the candy bar, where you can pick up all of your favourite movie-going snacks.  Highlights from Portsea's line-up include Tarantino's tribute to the 1960s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, music-themed hits Yesterday and Bohemian Rhapsody, Joker and Downton Abbey. Over in Mount Martha there are retro screenings of La La Land, The Princess Bride and Muriel's Wedding as well as new releases such as Frozen 2 and Knives Out.  Early bird tickets are $16.50, otherwise, adult tickets are $22, and kids can get in for $15. There's also a VIP upgrade for an extra $20, which gets you into the comfy Jalna Lounge. Check out the website for the screening schedule. 

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Two kids lit by coloured lights
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Kids, Exhibitions

Air Playground

Scienceworks, Spotswood

This summer, Scienceworks is blowing guests away with a new exhibition all about air. Air Playground is a 600m2 playspace where kids can explore six worlds that unpack the invisible but important resource. They’ll learn the basics of aerodynamics by designing their own paper planes, play around with the physics of airflow, and even make objects float. As part of its breezy programming, Scienceworks will also be hosting giant bubble shows and blowing up a giant inflatable sculpture for kids to bounce around on. There will even be a special week for the tiniest tots (those aged five and under) where they can learn all about air through play-based activities. 

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

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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.

Moonlight Cinemas Melbourne
Photograph: Supplied
Film, Outdoor cinema

Moonlight Cinema

Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Melbourne

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 this summer at Moonlight Cinema. The alfresco theatre has announced its dates for the 2019-2020 summer season, with films running from Thursday, November 28 until Sunday, March 29. Punters can expect a mix of acclaimed Oscar hopefuls, kids' favourites, festive faves and retro screenings to satisfy the nostalgic urges. There will be screenings of the Elton John biopic Rocketman, JLo's star turn in Hustlers, a 20th anniversary screening of The Matrix, Joaquin Phoenix's thrilling Joker, Stephen King's Dr Sleep, Disney blockbuster Frozen 2, the new Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, as well as Pulp Fiction, Love Actually, Dirty Dancing and Die Hard. You can check out the full program here. As always, the Moonlight Cinema food truck and bar can supply you with comestibles, but you're welcome to BYO food and drinks, too. A pop-up Tia Maria bar will even be serving Espresso Martinis (essential for long movies) and Tia Popcorn Frappés.  Those looking to splurge can opt for the gold grass experience where you'll sloth out on bean bag beds with a premium view of the big screen. You don't even have to get up for movie snacks or drinks as waiters will happily take your order.  Screenings kick off at sundown (around 8.45pm from December to February and 8.15pm in March) and tickets range from $18-$40.

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People sitting around a table inside a converted caravan
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Things to do, Pop-up locations

Summertime Social

Federation Square, Melbourne

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

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.   

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Hamlet Australian Shakespeare Company 2019 supplied
Photograph: Supplied
Theatre, Drama

Hamlet

Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Melbourne

The Australian Shakespeare Company has been bringing us Shakespeare Under the Stars for more than 30 years, so it’s safe to say they know their way around the Bard. This year, they’re tackling Hamlet, with the criminally underrated Andre de Vanny (Swansong) in the title role. Joining him is a top-notch cast that includes Alison Whyte (The Dressmaker, Satisfaction) as Gertrude, Greg Stone (Cloudstreet) as Claudius and Emily Goddard (This is Eden) as Ophelia, in a production directed by the company’s Glenn Elston. Don’t forget to complete the experience by bringing a picnic, or you can hire chairs and pick up drinks and snacks on the night.

Giraffes at Sunset Safari
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do, Walks and tours

Sunset Safari at Werribee Open Range Zoo

Werribee Open Range Zoo, Werribee South

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 are divided up into two groups, Kipenzi and Lataba (named after two of the zoo's seven rhinos). There are three activities on the night, but the order changes by group. Everyone gets a welcome drink on arrival, after which the groups go their separate ways.  One part of the night is an African drumming and dancing performance, which includes a workshop on how to do some of the simpler moves. A second part is an African feast, where visitors can enjoy tagine, couscous, salads and other delights, all topped off with a chocolate fountain, into which you can dip marshmallows, strawberries and meringue pieces. The best part, and the reason for the event, is the safari itself. 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.  Proceeds from the ni

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Home I'm Darling Melbourne Theatre Company 2020 supplied
Photograph: Justin Ridler
Theatre

Home, I'm Darling

Southbank Theatre (Melbourne Theatre Company), Southbank

Melbourne Theatre Company is kicking off the year with plenty of belly laughs, thanks to this hit British comedy, which picked up Best New Comedy at this year’s Olivier Awards. It follows a couple in the 21st century who have decided to live a completely authentic 1950s lifestyle. “It throws up situations that are incredibly funny but also deeply poignant and moving in many ways,” MTC artistic director Brett Sheehy says. “It really looks at the clash of their chosen ‘50s lifestyle against the 2020s, and what the frisson between those two time periods means in terms of values. How much have our values really changed over that period of time?” Nikki Shiels plays Judy, the woman who has chosen to step back in time, while Kath and Kim star Jane Turner plays her mother, who used to be a hippie feminist and is outraged that her daughter has chosen to be a stay-at-home housewife. Director Sarah Goodes is helming a cast that also includes Peter Paltos, Toby Truslove, Izabella Yena and comedian Susie Youssef.

An installation of a red crocheted bear standing on a matching red crocheted landscape
Photograph: Supplied
Art, Installation

Between Appearances: the Art of Louise Weaver

Buxton Contemporary, Southbank

The whimsical, warped and often woven worlds of Louise Weaver are at Buxton Contemporary this summer. Between Appearances: the Art of Louise Weaver draws together three decades of the artist’s work and peers into her constant exploration of growth, transformation and the natural world. Perhaps best known for her faceless woven animals (the zoological equivalents of Lift Off’s EC doll), Between Appearances also showcases Weaver’s paintings, drawings, prints and textile works. This is Weaver’s most extensive solo exhibition to date, with more than 100 works represented across Buxton Contemporary’s four galleries.  If you’re enamored with Weaver’s enchanting crocheted worlds you’ll be pleased to hear that ‘Taking a Chance on Love’, Weaver’s vivid red 2003 installation, is coming back. Like with many of her works, it boldly smooshes together artificial and organic materials to create a scene both alien and wonderfully comforting – it’s hard to resist the urge to reach out and touch. Two new paintings have also been commissioned for Between Appearances: ‘Diagram for the Structures of Feeling (Lilac Sea)’ and ‘Diagram for the Structures of Feeling (the Green Ray)’, large-scale works that are in part inspired by the work of Swiss French artist Félix Vallotton (the parallels are particularly apparent in the context of Vallotton’s sunset paintings). Between Appearances: the Art of Louise Weaver is on at Buxton Contemporary until February 9.

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En Route: Wona Bae and Charlie Lawler Heide Moma 2019 supplied
Photograph: Christian Capurro
Art

En Route: Wona Bae and Charlie Lawler

Heide Museum of Modern Art, Bulleen

Nature has always played a key role at Heide. Originally six hectares of rundown farmland on the outskirts of Melbourne, over almost 50 years art lovers John and Sunday Reed transformed the site into a haven for artists such as Sidney Nolan and Albert Tucker. Now artists Wona Bae and Charlie Lawler are honouring that connection, creating site-specific installations that respond to the modernist building Heide II. Developed at Heide over several months, the pair’s collection of installations, sculptures and two-dimensional artworks experiment with botanical materials and deconstruct familiar forms to encourage visitors to consider the relationship between human activity and the environment. The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of photographs by Sean Fennessy documenting Bae and Lawler at work.

Things to do, Pop-up locations

Melbourne Star’s Summer Beach Box

Melbourne Star Observation Wheel, Docklands

What could be a better summertime activity than taking a 30-minute flight in Melbourne Star’s cool, temperature-controlled cabin? This summer, Melbourne Star’s cabins will become pop-up summer beach boxes featuring pool toys, refreshments and a blissfully cool 21-degree temperature controlled space 120 meters above Melbourne. During this flight, you'll also enjoy 360-degree views of the port, towards Melbourne CBD and all the way out to the shores of Mornington Peninsula. By nighttime, you can enjoy a spectacular sunset with views of the city along with audio commentary playing in the background, revealing the hidden stories and history of the viewable landmarks. Summer Beach Box bookings also include a cheese platter and a complimentary drink for each guest. The Summer Beach Box experience is available daily from 11.30am to 8.30pm, until February 29, 2020. Bookings must be made five days in advance The flight starts at $29 per person for a group of eight or $200 for an intimate two-person flight.

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Jess Johnson and Simon Ward Terminus Heide supplied 2019
Photograph: National Gallery of Australia
Art

Terminus: Jess Johnson and Simon Ward

Heide Museum of Modern Art, Bulleen

It’s only relatively recently that artists have started embracing virtual reality as a medium, but New York-based visual artist Jess Johnson and New Zealand animator Simon Ward use the technology better than just about anybody in this exhibition of five works that take you into different realms. Some are curiously beautiful and relaxing, while others are a total sensory overload. And as with all virtual reality, the viewer is in complete control. There’s also a physical element to the exhibition, with the entire floor covered by a tesselated pattern relating to the worlds they conjure up in virtual reality. Terminus premiered at the National Gallery of Australia in 2018 and is now embarking on a national tour. Heide Museum of Modern Art is the first stop.

Sunset over bed outdoor cinema
Photograph: Supplied
Film, Outdoor cinema

Mov’in Bed Outdoor Bed Cinema

Catani Gardens, St Kilda West

It’s made big waves in Sydney, and now it’s Melbourne’s turn. Mov’in Bed Outdoor Bed Cinema is headed to Melbourne this summer as part of the outdoor cinema’s first national tour. The concept is irresistible. Imagine a large inflatable bed to snuggle into, food, drinks and a great movie. This summer it’s headed to St Kilda Beach, right in front of Catani Gardens, with its very own beach club popping up for 45 magical nights.   The full program is yet to be announced for Melbourne audiences, but if the earlier event in Perth is anything to go by, it’s looking like a winning summer of movies. Think the likes of the Leo, Brad and Margot Robbie retro adventure Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, new films like Joker and Last Christmas, and golden oldies like Jaws.  The only catch is you need to be speedy – there are usually only 150 beds per night (accommodating up to three people – cosy). If you don’t mind sitting on the grass, you can BYO blanket, and the tickets are cheaper. Ticket prices range from $9 to $93. The cinema gate opens at 6.30pm, with the movie starting at around sunset (which is around 8.45pm). The season runs from Saturday, January 4 until Sunday, February 23. Screenings run every day except Mondays.

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An image is projected on a brick structure, depicting a group of young women dancing in white dresses in an arid landscape.
Photograph: Melissa Powell Photography
Things to do, Talks and discussions

MPavilion

Queen Victoria Gardens, Melbourne

Things are warming up in Melbourne, summer is soon upon us and MPavilion will once again be taking up residence at the centre of the Southbank Arts Precinct. With a focus on Australian design, the pop-up modern-day amphitheatre is home to over 400 free cultural events and interventions, lively talks, performances, workshops, installations and kid-friendly experiences. DJs and live music sets take over the pavilion every Friday night from November 15 for Summer Sunsets featuring Melbourne Electronic Sound Studio (MESS), DJ Sara Savage and more.  The Archibald Weekend, over November 30 and December 1, invites guest speakers including Art Gallery of NSW director Michael Brand, artist Lindy Lee and 2019 Archibald Prize winner Tony Costa and includes hands-on arts workshops.  Co-curated by Transitions Film Festival, Climate Emergency Cinema is an outdoor, bicycle-powered program of short films and award-winning feature documentaries celebrating grassroots action around climate change over three evenings – January 14, 21 and 28.  Canine fanatics can join Dog Walking Adventures. On the third Sunday of every month from November to March the team behind Tom + Captain Dog Walking Adventures embark on meanderings through the city with and a bunch of good boys and girls. BYO pup or just join the pack.  This is just a taste of the diverse program, which also includes Sound Bath Sessions, nature-based creative kids workshops with artist and next-gen crafter Beci Orpin, Indigenous arch

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.

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The Boy, George Midsumma 2019 supplied
Photograph: Cam Cooke
Theatre

The Boy, George

Chapel Off Chapel, Prahran

At this stage, the future of the British monarchy is just about anybody's guess. At 93, Queen Elizabeth II's reign is likely drawing to its close, and Prince Charles is next in line to lead Great Britain through an increasingly uncertain age. But what of young Prince George of Cambridge, the adorable six-year-old son of Wills and Kate, who already has legions of fans? This new play by Melbourne writer Patrick Livesey imagines a teenage Prince George grappling with his future as the world is at a crossroads. There's an entire monarchy to be saved, but George has got his mind on bigger things. In the title role is Australian comedian Joel Creasey, best know for his stand-up gigs and many TV appearances. He'll be directed by Richard Carroll, the man behind Virginia Gay's award-winning tour of Calamity Jane.

MQFF Rocky Horror Picture Show
Image: Supplied
Film, Special screenings

The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Drive-in

Coburg Drive-In, Coburg North

The most authentic way to sit back and watch the Rocky Horror Picture Show would be at the late night, double feature picture show – but pulling up to watch this 1975 cult classic at the drive-in would come a close second (we just hope a flat tyre doesn’t leave you stranded, á la Brad and Janet). Midsumma Festival brings a night of film, flair and antici...pation to the Village Cinemas Coburg Drive-in on Friday January 31 with a screening of Rocky Horror to raise funds for the 30th Melbourne Queer Film Festival (coming up in March 2020).

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Boobs Midsumma 2019 supplied
Photograph: Amy Howard
Theatre

Boobs

Arts Centre Melbourne, Southbank

Cabaret performer Selina Jenkins debuted this show to five-star reviews at this year’s Melbourne Fringe, picking up awards for best cabaret and best feminist work. It’s all about boobs and our relationship to our bodies as a whole, delivered with soulful vocals, plenty of laughs and stories about tackling the world, one mammary at a time. 

Sinofuturists, Lu Yang
Photograph: Supplied
Art, Digital and interactive

Sinofuturists

Multiple venues

[Sponsored] Multimedia artists Lu Yang, Howie Lee and Alex Wang will combine immersive gaming environments, traditional Chinese music, digital avatars and civic ethics in a series of boundary-pushing works and discussions for the Sinofuturists program, part of Asia TOPA 2019. Sinofuturism is an artistic movement popularised by simulation artist Lawrence Lek with his 2016 video essay Sinofuturism (1839-2046 AD). Though this framework, the artists visiting Australia will explore how technology can offer new modes of expression, and what this means for our future realities.  Until March 22, Feedback Loops transforms ACCA's galleries into an immersive environment of live performance, video, installation, interactive gaming and artificial intelligence with six artists speculating on the past, present and future. As part of this exhibition, Lu Yang’s motion capture performance Electromagnetic Brainology will explore sexuality, religion and mortality using hyper-pop and kitsch environments. Two Live AV performances will converge on Melbourne Recital Centre as part of the program. Alex Wang and Chill Chill’s performance will guide the audience through an Orwell-inspired unreal nightmare and cyberoptic vision of modern China on Thursday March 26, while on March 27 Howie Lee and Teom Chen’s collaborative performance incorporates the movement of the audience and traditional instruments using the latest technological tools to create a reactive world that strips the barriers between performance and

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Bombay Sapphire NGV placeholder
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do, Exhibitions

NGV Friday Nights during Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines

NGV International, Southbank

[Sponsored] The spirit of New York’s underground downtown art scene during the 1980s is flowing through the National Gallery of Victoria on Friday nights. With a little help from Bombay Sapphire, the latest NGV Friday Nights series is inspired by the gallery’s summer blockbuster exhibition, which celebrates the work of two of the most influential artists of the late 20th century, Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.  Every Friday night from December 6 to April 10, DJs are spotlighting different moments in ’80s music from disco to post-punk, hip hop and new wave, mixed in with drag performances, New York City street food, classic cocktails from the Bombay Sapphire Gin Bar, and an '80s dance floor in the NGV Garden to wrap up each night. Explore the Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines exhibition after dark and lean into the fascinating corners of 1980s music and pop culture with curated beats, talks and interactive activities.  The December 13 event, New York Jazz and the Golden Age, features a jazz-infused DJ set from Loure, a set spotlighting the golden age of hip hop by DJ/producer Paul Gorrie and an exhibition talk by NGV curatorial project officer Meg Slater. On January 3, the gallery delves into Paris is Burning-era ballroom culture with Sass & the Ballroom. Danny Hotep will lay down a banging soundtrack of pure '80s sass followed by Melbourne DJ MzRizk piling on the funk, with a talk on art from the margins by Dr Quinn Eades from La Trobe University. In March a

Midsumma Extravaganza 2019 supplied image
Photograph: David Harris
Comedy, Variety

Midsumma Extravaganza

Hamer Hall, Southbank

Some of the hottest stars in showbiz are going to be performing at Midsumma's night of nights, the Extravaganza. If last year's show was anything to go by, the night will be an absolute riot. The line-up for 2020 includes comedians Nath Valvo, Tom Ballard and Kirsty Webeck, as well as the king of kitsch, Bob Downe, drag legend Dolly Diamond and Drag Race Thailand's Pangina Heals. And the show doesn't end when the curtain goes down: a DJ will keep the party going into the night.  

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Things to do, Markets

South Melbourne Night Market

South Melbourne Market, South Melbourne

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. 

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. 

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Press shot of actor David Suchet
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do, Talks and discussions

David Suchet

Hamer Hall, Southbank

There are two types of Agatha Christie fans: those who are team Poirot and those that are team Miss Marple. If you identify as the former then we bring good tidings. David Suchet, the man behind arguaby the most famous iteration of Hercule Poirot, is coming to Australia.  Known for his small stature, big personality and impeccable curled moustache, the fictional Belgian detective used his “little grey cells” (that is, his brain) to untangle even the most dastardly murders. Suchet played Poirot for 25 years, appearing in a whopping 74 television films. Of course Suchet is more than just Monsieur Poirot, having also portrayed Lady Bracknell in the Oscar Wilde comedy The Importance of Being Earnest and the father of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud in the BBC’s 1984 miniseries Freud. The accomplished actor is coming to Melbourne as part of an in-conversation tour looking back at his favourite performances.  See Suchet at Hamer Hall on Saturday, January 25 or Thursday, February 13. Tickets available now.

Crowd at Zoo Twilights
Photograph: Ian Laidlaw
Music, Music festivals

Zoo Twilights

Melbourne Zoo, Parkville

We'd be lion if we said that Zoo Twilights wasn't our summer highlight.  The concert series kicks off in January and attracts some pretty big names in music. Kicking things off on January 24 is Aussie duo Confidence Man supported by party starters Wax’o Paradiso. The next night audiences will be treated to a special performance from Iva Davies and Aussie music royalty Icehouse.  Influential Jamaican reggae troup Toots and the Maytals will also hit the stage this summer,  as well as a run of Aussie favourites like Missy Higgins, the Cat Empire, Methyl Ethel, Meg Mac and Julia Jacklin. ‘I’m Not in Love’ singers 10cc are also gracing the line-up, as is UK art pop pioneers Stereolab. Randy Newman, whose inescapably hummable 'You've Got a Friend in Me' anchors the Toy Story film series, will hit the stage as part of his Australian tour. The festival will close on Saturday, March 7 with a performance from living legend and soul king Mavis Staples.  Topping the line-up, of course, are the Zoo's wild residents. All proceeds from the Zoo Twilights summer concert series will be going back towards the zoo's conservation work, including work to save the critically endangered mountain-pygmy possum from extinction.  No Zoo Twilights night is complete without a gourmet picnic – pre-order a hamper with your tickets or check out the Taste of Twilights food zone on the night for street eats from some of Melbourne's best food trucks. Zoo Twilights tickets also include exclusive zoo entry f

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A stock image of a bubbling cauldron.
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do, Food and drink

The Wizard’s Cauldron

Polly, Fitzroy

While you won’t find the most famed greasy-haired potions masters or boy wizard at this creative drinking experience, you will have a lot of fun at the Wizard's Cauldron if you’re keen on the occult. Channel the powers of your coven idol, from Sabrina to Hermione and any of the kids from Wizards of Waverly Place, and brew devilish concoctions in your cauldron. Like any brave young witch or wizard, you’ll have to master the dark arts to unlock the secrets to perfecting your brew. Wand and robe will be supplied upon entry at the Wizard's Cauldron, and your golden ticket also covers the cost of a warming glass of mead or mulled wine plus two boozy magical potions created with the help of your potion master. The 90-minute potion-making experience is happening at Polly's Bar in Fitzroy. Sessions are available Wednesday to Sunday.

Weekend Summer Sessions
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do, Food and drink

Weekend Summer Sessions

Adelphi Hotel, Melbourne

Melbourne’s Adelphi Hotel is collaborating with the Campari Group to bring weekend session celebrating 100 years of Aperol, meaning you can spend your summer arvos splayed on the hotel’s rooftop pool deck, Italian-style.  Sip your way through the heat with classic aperitivo offerings like Campari and soda, Prosecco, Peroni and of course Aperol Spritzes galore, in addition to a range of non-alcoholic options. It’s only natural that this Aperol celebration also features food. There is a seasonal snack menu from Adelphi’s signature menu available, as well as Om Nom Kitchen’s halloumi fries with chilli and lime crema.  Adelphi’s Weekend Summer Sessions run from Saturday, December 7 to Sunday, March 1. The bar is open from 12.30pm to 6pm, with happy hour running from  12.30pm to 1.30pm.

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Things to do

The Queen Victoria Night Market

Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne

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 Gin Springs Bar, a pop-up watering hole inspired by Palm Springs and filled with giant pink flamingos, desert plants and fruity perfect-for-summer cocktails. It's here that you can grab a gin cocktail made with Melbourne Gin Company gin, as well an adult version of the classic spider (they're made with Coldstream Cider). 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 st

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

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.”

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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

The Sky After Rain Manningham Art Gallery supplied 2019
Photograph: Pippa Samaya
Art

The Sky After Rain

Manningham Art Gallery, Doncaster

The stories of three queer Iranian diasporas, Payam, Shyla and Shaya, are told in this exhibition that explores the taboo of being LGBTQIA in Iranian communities. Dancer Tara Jade Samaya is at the centre of three video installations that question what it means to be a queer voice in a society that actively represses those voices.  The exhibition is presented by Midsumma at Manningham Art Gallery, and was developed by the Blame the Shadows Collective.

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The Veronicas, Australian Open Live Stage
Photograph: Australian Open
Music, Music festivals

AO Live Stage

Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne

The Australian Open is bringing back its powerhouse concert series this summer. AO Live Stage is returning this January as part of Australia's only grand slam event. The Australian Open's tennis stars might be hot, but the AO Live Stage line-up is hotter with a stack of big musos taking part in the concert series. This year we're excited to be hooked up with the Veronicas who will be playing alongside Japanese Wallpaper and Kian on Thursday, January 23. Prefer a bit of old school Aus rock? Grinspoon and Eskimo Joe are playing a double bill on Friday, January 24.  The stellar voice of Kate Miller-Heidke will ring out across the AO Live Stage on Monday, January 27 (with a little support from Seeker Lover Keeper) while avid Triple J listeners will likely be in attendance on Wednesday, January 22 when Lime Cordiale and Ruby Fields hit the stage.  Other artists that have been announced include Montaigne, Cub Sport, Broods, Matt Corby, Jessica Mauboy, Bastille and Billy Idol. For the full line-up visit the A The AO Live Stage concert series runs for 15 days (the length of the Australian Open). As usual you will require a ticket to the Australian Open to enter, but with ground passes starting at $49 the concert is a very economical way to see your fave artists live.

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. 

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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

KAWS NGV 2019 supplied
Photograph: Tom Ross
Art

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.

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A taco
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do, Pop-up locations

Fiesta de Tequila

Howler, Brunswick

Brunswick bar Howler is turning its sights towards sunny Mexico for summer – and beyond.   Howler has relaunched its Fiesta de Tequila pop-up bar, serving a selection of specialty tequilas, cocktails and tacos every Friday to Sunday. This isn't the first time that Howler has hosted the tequila and taco pop-up bar but this year the team is aiming to make the bar a more permanent weekly fixture. Because, if we're honest, tequilas and tacos are an all-year fave. Between 5pm and 6pm Friday and Saturday evenings, Howler is serving $5 tacos (smoked brisket, black bean or achiote chicken) as well as honest-to-goodness $5 frozen Margaritas. Missed happy hour? You can still score the tacos for $6.50 until 9pm Friday and Saturday, and between 3pm and 7pm on Sundays.  Howler is also shaking up a mix of tequila cocktails ranging from hearty Paloma Mimosaa to Micheladas (a little like a Mexican Bloody Mary) and the dangerous sounding Jalepeño Margaritas.  The Fiesta de Tequila bar is open from 5pm to 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and from 3pm to 7pm on Sundays.

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.

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Artwork depicting David Bowie wearing iconic Ziggy Stardust lighting bolt makeup.
Image: Supplied
Things to do

Bowie Ball

Evies Disco Diner, Fitzroy

Paint a lighting bolt across your face and step into the freakiest show, Bowie Ball is hitting Melbourne for the first time ever as part of Midsumma festivities.  This otherworldly extravaganza brings together music, art, fashion and performance under the influence of the late, great David Bowie. Hosted by the glamdrogynous Peppy Smears, this event brings together some of the city’s most talented musicians, bands and provocateurs to perform Bowie’s full catalogue. Dance the night away and take your chances in the best-dressed competition (you might say there’s a labyrinth of looks in Bowie’s back-catalogue to take inspiration from). The full line-up will be announced soon. Follow the Facebook event for updates.

Po Po Mo Co Presents Summer of the Seventeenth Doll Misumma 2019
Photograph: Supplied
Theatre

PO PO MO CO Presents Summer of the Seventeenth Doll

Hares & Hyenas, Fitzroy

PO PO MO CO is short for "Post Post Modern Comedy". That might sound like a rather pretentious and potentially painful prospect, but what you really need to know about this troupe is that they're wildly funny. They also have a significant cult following and are only doing two performances at this year's Midsumma, so you'll want to make sure you get tickets. For this year's festival, they're taking on an Australian theatrical classic: Ray Lawler's seminal drama Summer of the Seventeenth Doll. But never fear if you aren't familiar with the story of Olive, Pearl, Roo and Barney – by the time PO PO MO CO is done with it, it'll be barely recognisable.

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Roger Kemp: Visionary Modernist National Gallery of Victoria 2019 supplied
Photograph: Tom Ross
Art

Roger Kemp: Visionary Modernist

The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne

His name might not be as well known as some of his contemporaries, but Roger Kemp was one of Australia’s greatest abstractionists. Best known for his large-scale tapestries that hang in the great hall of the National Gallery of Victoria, during his lifetime Kemp eschewed figurative and landscape art in favour of a more metaphysical approach that sought to “make visible the invisible”. Now the National Gallery of Victoria will host the first major retrospective exhibition of Kemp’s work since his death in 1987. Developed in conjunction with the artist’s estate, the exhibition includes several works that have never been shown publicly before, and traces Kemp’s evolution as an artist, from his early Cezanne-inspired sketches to the geometric, stained glass-like paintings by which he made his name.

Linden Postcard Prize exhibition 2017 installation view 2016 at Linden New Art courtesy LNA
Photograph: Supplied
Art, Galleries

Linden Postcard Show

Linden New Art, St Kilda

This annual exhibition, now in its 29th year, offers a ‘snapshot’ of Australia’s artscape by dint of its open door policy: the only rule for entry is that the artist must be Australian, and that the work must be 8 by 10 inches. Add a $5,000 main prize, and a suite of smaller awards (including People’s Choice), and you have a perfect storm for a consistently dynamic range of styles and calibres.

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Random International Rain Room
Photograph: Creative Commons / Alexandermcnabb
Art, Installation

Rain Room

Jackalope Pavilion, St Kilda

UPDATE 01/10/19: Due to popular demand, Rain Room has been extended until January 2020.  It’s pretty common to get caught in the rain while walking around Melbourne. What’s less common is to get caught in the rain while walking around indoors in Melbourne – and even weirder when you realise that the rain is inexplicably falling everywhere except on you. Melbourne is the first city in the southern hemisphere to host ‘Rain Room’, an immersive artwork by London-based collective Random International. ‘Rain Room’ is one of Random International’s most famous works and has previously shown at the Barbican in London, MoMA in New York and at the Yuz Museum in Shanghai. Guests are invited into a darkened room filled with continuous rain. No need to bring an umbrella though because this rain won’t dampen your clothes or spirits. Thanks to motion sensors in the ceiling ‘Rain Room’ detects where visitors are and ensures a dry six-metre radius around guests. The artwork has been brought to Melbourne thanks to a collaboration between the currently closed ACMI and uber-luxe hotel Jackalope. Until January 31, you can experience the installation for yourself at the Jackalope Pavillion, a pop-up space on the corner of Acland and Jackson streets in St Kilda. Tickets are available now.

Lekker
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do, Food and drink

Lekker

1 Bourke St, Melbourne

What is a neo-bistro exactly? We're not quite sure, but according to Rob Kabboord, who until recently was chef de cuisine at Quay, it's a comfortable bistro with a sharper, sassier offering than its classic counterparts. Kabboord is spending his summer back in Melbourne at the Windsor Hotel's event space at 1 Bourke Street with Lekker, an Aussie-Dutch bistro offering a selection of snacks and a moderately priced tasting menu (6 courses for $85) at a seasonal residency. Expect dishes like smoked salmon cigars; a kingfish roulade with wakame, frisee and tarragon; a modern interpretation of snert (a Dutch split pea soup) with pork trotter, neck, belly and peas; a Black Forest cake; and even a return of Melbourne's most mourned cheese trolley – a callback to Kabboord's famed cheese selection at Merricote (RIP). To match the playful food is a smart and concise drinks list featuring aperitifs, local craft beers, sake and a well-priced, balanced wine offering will be available throughout the season.  Bookings are encouraged, but walk-ins will be welcome.

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Pixar Putt
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do, Games and hobbies

Pixar Putt

Melbourne Museum, Carlton

Kick some serious putt at Pixar Putt, a pop-up mini golf experience that’s back in Melbourne this summer. The experience is inspired by some of Disney Pixar’s most famous films, including classics like Toy Story, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, A Bug’s Life, Ratatouille, Monsters Inc, Wall-E, and new hits like Inside Out, Coco, The Good Dinosaur and more.   Pixar Putt pops up at the Melbourne Museum Western Forecourt from December 20 to February 3.  You can choose between playing a nine-hole round or go to infinity and beyond with the full 18-hole course. Tickets will be $24.90 for adults, $19.90 for children or $79.50 for families doing the nine-hole course, or $39.90 for adults, $29.90 for children and $119.60 for families doing the 18-hole course.  Best to buy tickets in advance to secure your spot. Tickets are available now via the 'buy tickets' button above. 

Comedy, Stand Up

Catfish Comedy

The Catfish, Fitzroy

This comedy night takes place in the Catfish’s upper band room and hosts some of the best headliners and up-and-coming acts from Australia. It’s always a hot line-up, with about ten acts each night, and it’s seen its fair share of international drop-ins. The band room bar offers $4 pots and $7 pints. It’s not Monday anymore so we can go crazy! Catfish wins best merch. Sure, they are the only comedy night with merch, but the shirts are so cool they would win anyway, and if you come to the show six times you get a free shirt. Catfish is home to Sparrows Philly Steaks Kitchen. They serve a famous beef, onion and cheese sandwich plus wings, plus fries, plus happiness. It’s Fitzroy, so they obviously have vegan alternatives too. Plus, there is an actual catfish in a TV aquarium. It’s weird, it’s wonderful and it’s worth every dollar.

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People in crowd laughing at comedy at Crab Lab
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Comedy, Stand Up

Crab Lab Comedy

House of Maximon, Melbourne

This is one of the best free comedy rooms in Australia. The Facebook page states, “Crab Lab is a great comedy room which you will like. Each Wednesday you will get to see good comedians performing comedy.” That’s really all they have to say because once you hit up Crab the room speaks for itself. It’s always packed so get in before show time to grab a seat. If you can’t see a free seat straight away keep looking, there are nooks and booths built into the wall that you can always squeeze into. If not, there’s nothing wrong with standing. The night consists of two brackets of Australia’s newcomers and pro comics jumping up to try some of their newer gear. There is always a beer special, so make sure you check the board at the bar. Lastly, Crab Lab is in the heart of Chinatown, so there is no shortage of post-show, late-night food options.

Courtesy of the artist and Bank Gallery, Shanghai
Tianzhuo Chen with Andrew Thomas Huang, 'Exo-performance / Beio' 2019 (still)
Art

Feedback Loops

Australian Centre for Contemporary Art - ACCA, Southbank

The real, the fictive and the speculative roll together as one in this exhibition that asks six Australian and international artists to sample and reinterpret real and imagined characters and events from their past and present in order to understand and speculate upon the feature. Incorporating elements of spirituality, mythology, philosophy and pop culture, the six participating artists – Madison Bycroft, Tianzhou Chen, Lu Yang, Sahej Rahalm, Justin Shoulder and Zadie Xa – use video, installations, interactive gaming, artificial intelligence and live performance in a way that challenges us to imagine how things could have been.

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Tom Gleeson photograph supplied by Token 2019
Photograph: Supplied
Comedy, Stand Up

Comedy at Spleen

Spleen Bar, Melbourne

Spleen is a room equally loved by crowds and comics alike. Not wanting to waste a second of atmosphere, comics always bring their best material. If there is a room that attracts big names wanting to try their new stuff, this is it, and it’s worth getting along just to see who might drop in. If you want a seat, you’ll need to get in early – Spleen packs out with crowds standing all the way to the front door. There is even a live feed to the TV at the bar for those who can’t quite get a full view of the stage – it’s in black and white so get in early for the full colour spectrum. This dive bar offers the appropriate food – there’s burgers, fries and dawgs. The only thing hotter than their dawgs is the comedy and the only thing cheesier are our jokes. By the way, Spleen is open until 5am… So stick around and see if you can make real life look black and white too.

The Rochester Hotel neon signage
Photograph: Supplied
Comedy, Stand Up

Rochey Comedy

The Rochester Hotel, Fitzroy

This room wins best courtyard comedy. In the colder months the gigs take place in the quaint, moodily lit room upstairs at the Rochester Hotel, but come summer the comedy is moved to the outdoor courtyard. Comedians have been known to smoke on stage… Smoking kills, but so do these sets. The upstairs room boasts its own little bar and fireplace (it’s ornamental but that means you can rest your beer on it). This is a great option for those living in the Inner North who can’t quite be bothered going into the city. In terms of food, there are bar snacks and a great South Indian restaurant downstairs. The only problem is, the restaurant is so good you may get enthralled and forget to go up to the comedy. Eat early so you make the show right on time.

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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.

Stay Gold Comedy
Photograph: Supplied
Comedy, Stand Up

Stay Gold Comedy

Stay Gold, Ashburton

Live in Brunswick and don’t want to leave your special area? Good; they’ve brought the comics to you! This is the best comedy room more than a few kilometres out of the city, offering the Brunswick neighbouring suburbs a local option. This early Sunday show is held in one of Melbourne’s coolest newest live music venues. Stay Gold Comedy takes over the front bar every week and offers $5 tinnies with the restaurant serving up modern souvas and charcoal chicken. End your week right, with even more beers and a look at the best new and experienced comedians from Melbourne.

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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 $20 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.

Liquid Light NGV 2019
Image courtesy NGV
Art

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.

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Petrina Hicks, Bleached Gothic 2019 supplied NGV
© Petrina Hicks. Courtesy Michael Reid, Sydney; and This is No Fantasy, Melbourne.
Art, Photography

Petrina Hicks: Bleached Gothic

The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne

Petrina Hicks is one of the most instantly recognisable photographers working in Australia today, known for her large-scale, hyperreal works that co-opt the visual language of advertising and traditional portraiture to explore ideas around consumerism and the female experience. Yet, until now there has never been a major survey exhibition of her work. Bleached Gothic brings together more than 40 works from Hicks’s 15-year career, tracing her evolution from commercial photographer to awarded artist. Included in the exhibition are several works featuring albino artist and performer Lauren, whose ethereal appearance is one of the most recognisable features of Hicks’s work, alongside five video works that play with the concept of slow time to create a sense of menace and unease in the viewer.

Koorie Art Show 2019 supplied Koorie Heritage Trust
Image: Teena Moffatt 'Nanyak Nharebula Gana #1 (Mother Shield Design)', 2018
Art, Galleries

The Koorie Art Show

Koorie Heritage Trust, Melbourne

The Koorie Art Show is the largest Indigenous art prize in Victoria, featuring artists at the very start of their career alongside long-standing arts leaders. Each year, the Koorie Heritage Trust's Federation Square Gallery hosts a free exhibition of every entry, offering a brilliant opportunity to see the richness of Indigenous art in the 21st century. It’s the sort of exhibition where traditional practices sit alongside cutting edge contemporary work, and you can get a glimpse of the future as much as the past. You’ll see painting, sculpture, photography, fibre and even digital mixed medium works. This year is the seventh iteration of the awards, and there are 90 artists from across Victoria competing for a total prize pool of $32,000. That pool includes a major prize of $10,000 as well as prizes for both two-dimensional and three-dimensional works, and an award for emerging artists. There’s also a people’s choice prize, so you can exercise your inner art critic and vote for your favourite. The people's choice winner will be revealed when the exhibition closes on February 23, 2020.

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Polixeni Papapetrou, Olympia NGV 2019 supplied
© The estate of Polixeni Papapetrou
Art, Photography

Polixeni Papapetrou: Olympia

The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne

Polixeni Papapetrou was one of Australia’s leading contemporary photographers before her tragic death last year at the age of just 57. Best known for her images of children, particularly of her daughter Olympia and son Solomon dressed as characters from historical, artistic or imaginary settings, her work was frequently concerned with imagination, storytelling, childhood and issues of identity. Curated in conjunction with Papapetrou’s family, Olympia marks the first major museum retrospective of her work, bringing together never before seen works alongside those from celebrated series, including Phantomwise (2003), MY HEART - still full of her (2018), Eden (2016) and 2014’s Melancholia, which reflects on Papapetrou’s grief upon hearing her second, and ultimately terminal, cancer diagnosis.

Live like a tourist

Things to do

25 tourist attractions that don’t suck

Just because they’re popular with visitors, doesn’t mean they’re lame. These Melbourne tourist attractions are famous for a reason, so stop putting off your visit and find out what all the fuss is about.

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